Sensuality and Romance: Part Three

>> Sunday, July 17, 2011

I changed the title for those of you who were confused by the French. Also, warning, I'm going to talk about sex. Perhaps graphically. (No, RM, I don't know what I'm going to write here any more than I preplan what I'm writing when I do fiction).

I said one could do love, even deeply moving passionate romantic-type love, without expressing the sensuality inherent to that type of thing...but it was challenging to do so effectively.

Expressing sensuality without the romantic aspects is easy-peasy; however, in a way the same goes. Anyone can write about passion. Not everyone does it well. Not by a long shot.

One key reason for that, and the reason I chose sensuality in the title rather than passion, is that the descriptions of passion are frequently short on sensual description, which is fatal. Sensuality is all about titillating the senses, not just sight, but sound, touch, smell and taste as well. More than that, it's the reaction to those senses, what one feels. It's easy to lose sight of that, but sensuality is more than just sex, though it's frequently what comes to mind. It's the steeping of senses and the resulting emotions and actions.

For instance, for that picture that started all this, the story I wrote wasn't particularly sensual. If I'd wanted to focus on the sensuality of the picture, I could have limited myself to describing what was going on in the picture in terms of senses and emotions with no back story.

Pain pulsed through Lawrence as his finger ached to pull the trigger, kill the monster once and for all. Kilee was a demon, his sworn enemy. Untrustworthy, evil, bringing only devastation in his wake. Proof of that was the blood Lawrence shed in answer to Kilee's sharpened nails, warm sticky blood that stained his demon-hunter uniform. The radiating pain for those scores both tore at away at Lawrence's decency, demanding that he kill in response, and stayed his hand. As it was, Lawrence had already lost too much blood, could feel it pooling and cooling on his chest, could feel his heartbeat growing sluggish, starved of blood. His head swam and his hand shook, as his life flooded his front in a crimson wave, mocking him with its coppery smell. Death was inevitable. Unless.

He had enough strength left, physically, he could kill the demon who had deliberately killed him. Lawrence had Kilee where he wanted, in his grasp, his gun aimed at Kilee's head to kill him once and for all. But Kilee could say the same. Even with a gun to his head, Kilee knew Lawrence could hardly kill him when Kilee had the means for saving him. Kilee had cut his own throat and let his blood, the sweet verdant blood of the demons, trickle free to tempt Lawrence, an elixir that would heal Lawrence for this and all future ills. The smell of Kilee's blood overpowered the salty scent of his own blood with its seductive fragrance, the blood a drug so that Lawrence could not pull the trigger and kill this demons once and for all.

Kilee knew, of course, and there was no fear for himself when he spoke, "You need only one sip."

"Never," Lawrence gasped, his slowing heart beat echoing in his ears. His own voice sounded weak and distant.

Kilee laughed and touched his finger to his own blood. "Liar," he said. He touched the bloody finger to Lawrence's lips. Lawrence shuddered, not in disgust so much as ecstasy as he tasted the ambrosia of demon blood. The next instant, his mouth was pressed desperately against Kilee's throat, drinking deeply of that most hated blood, tasting its savory sweetness fill his mouth, hearing himself gulp it greedily, feeling it's healing warmth relieve his heart's burden and bring warmth to his cooling extremities. His fogging mind took on a sharp clarity it had never before known.

Pulling the trigger now would accomplish nothing. Kilee had already won, making Lawrence a demon with the sacrifice of Kilee's own blood. Kilee had proven his point as Lawrence had saved his own life at the expense of his soul.

No bullet would ever change that.

(Yes, I know there's story in that, too. Can't help it, as I explained at the time). Even without understanding the ins and outs of the characters or the real aspect of demons, this is a very powerful scene. Sensual description changes a pivotal occurrence into an an event that stirs emotions and drag the reader into picture. Describing it plainly wouldn't change the actual significance to the story, but it would not be as compelling or powerful without feeling Lawrence's pain and conflict. It makes the characters stronger, more sympathetic, more powerful. It helps weave that magic that lets a reader lose themselves in another world.

Compare that to something like this:

He needed the money she held in her hand. Somewhere, his wife coughed away, caught by the horrific disease that killed within days. The cure, quick and effective, was available only to those with money, money like this woman was offering so casually.

"What do you want from me?"

She licked her lips. "You know what I want." Yeah, he did. A woman looks like this, she wants a man in her. If he hadn't known, her fingers at her buttons, removing her shirt would have told him.

It's not like she wasn't beautiful. Her eyes might be hard, but her body was as curvy and appealing as only money could buy. When she unfastened her belt and let her pants slip down to the ground, he could see her ass was just as round and perfect, the kind of body that made a man's mouth water. Of course he wanted her. Who wouldn't?

He cleared his throat, but didn't move his eyes from her body. "I'm married."

"So am I. I'm not asking for a wedding ring, loverboy. I just want a little of your body temporarily."

His body was responding, his fingers already pulling at his clothes. "I'm not a gigolo."

"Sure you're not," she purred as she slid her body next to him, and kissed his neck. "Take me."

He said nothing more, just lifted her perfect body and buried himself in it, grunting as the passion over took him, blinding himself to anything and everything but this act. This woman. This feeling. This need.

When it was over, he felt drained, but not satisfied. "Thanks, loverboy," she offered, leaving the money on the counter where her ass had been seconds before. She was dressed and back to looking slick and perfect within minutes. "Feel free to leave the money if you don't really think you're a gigolo. We both know you wanted me, too."

His fingers scooped up the money as if she would change her mind. She just laughed as she left. He could save his wife now, he told himself. That was the important thing. But she'd never forgive him if she knew where he'd gotten the money, how he'd gotten it. She'd never believe he hadn't wanted to do it for his own sake.

And she'd be right.
Can you see the difference in that? How little power this pivotal event has comparatively? How much harder it is to sympathize with the man, even though, on the surface, his motivation is more noble. The act has far less power, not as much because it meant nothing, but because his involvement is ambiguous. We don't really see or feel the conflict. We're told he wanted her, but we don't feel it or get dragged in. It was actually really really hard to write that without putting in more sensuality and conflict. Writing that way is habit-forming, yet I've seen many key passages in published books as cold and flavorless as this...or worse.

I'll continue with sensuality without romance next time since this post is long enough. See you later.


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