Friday, November 11, 2005

Using the Senses to Create a Romantic Mood

Using the Senses to Create a Romantic Mood Ruth D. Kerce

Your action is heart-pounding, your dialogue snappy, your
introspection soul-revealing. So why are your love scenes flat and
uninspiring? A romantic scene should include as many of the senses as
possible to create a sensual or sexy mood that will hold a reader's
attention. To see how the five senses can make a scene come alive,
let's look at examples from both the hero and heroine's point of view
using sight, smell, touch, hearing, and taste.

SIGHT - from the hero's point of view:
She stepped out of the bedroom dressed in a skimpy black outfit that
barely held in her ample breasts. His breath caught in his throat at
the sight of her. The spiked, red heels she wore displayed her long
legs to perfection, and his mind reeled from fantasies of those legs
wrapped around, squeezing him tightly.

SIGHT - from the heroine's point of view:
She had to force herself not to stare. Instead, she studied him from
beneath lowered lashes. How could a man in a simple business suit
look so sexy? He didn't wear it simply, but like it was tailor-made
for him. She didn't know where his jacket was. That was all right.
She enjoyed the view of his open collar, displaying tanned skin
beneath, his sleeves rolled up to right below the elbows. His creased
pants hugged his thighs just enough to hint at what lay hidden from
her view.

SMELL - from the hero's point of view:
Her perfume mingled with her own unique scent. It wasn't
overpowering, like some women's, but tantalizing, wafting around him
like a soft mist. He wanted to hold her close and inhale its
essence--and hers.

SMELL - from the heroine's point of view:
The scent she'd come to associate with him drifted across the room.
He was near. Her body responded to the woodsy fragrance, and she grew
hot with desire. The need to be surrounded by his unique aroma made
her turn and seek him out.

TOUCH - from the hero's point of view:
He had to touch her. He remembered the feel of her skin too much not
to. Soft and cool, like satin. Silky enough to make any man beg for
more. His fingertips trailed down her body, seeking intimate contact
with her warm, moist core.

TOUCH - from the heroine's point of view:
Her fingers grazed the hard muscles of his bare chest. She loved the
contained strength he possessed. His skin was always warm when she
touched him, and she wondered if it was his natural state or if she
was the cause. A tantalizing thought.

HEARING - from the hero's point of view:
When she spoke, the world stopped. Nothing else penetrated but the
sweet sound of her voice--passionate enough to bring his body alert,
tender enough to send him to his knees.

HEARING - from the heroine's point of view:
The deep, sexy timbre of his voice--slightly scratchy, like he always
needed to clear his throat--caused her body to tremble with
anticipation. He slowly pulled down his zipper, and she grew weak at
the grating sound.

TASTE - from the hero's point of view:
His lips trailed down her body, and the spicy taste of her sent him
over the edge into the depths of desire. He wanted to savor every
inch of her, to explore the different flavors hidden in secret
places. He felt like a starving man, finally feasting on the most
delicious of oral delights.

TASTE - from the heroine's point of view:
She longed for one more kiss from him. He tasted of brandy, mint, and
something unique that made her want him with a desperation she'd
never felt for another man. Her tongue swept over her bottom lip, and
she swore his taste lingered there.

These are simple examples of how you can incorporate the senses into
your scenes. By using each of the senses, you will paint a more vivid
picture. Your desire is to draw in the reader, to make their senses
come alive with your descriptions. Make the reader feel as if he/she
is in the scene and experiencing the same sensations as your hero or
heroine. Do this and you'll have your readers coming back for more.

Subject: RSW: Setting up an emotional moment

by Hal Croasmun

Have you ever noticed that even though a great story has big moments,
it is also filled with many small emotional moments?

Yesterday, as I watched FOR LOVE OF THE GAME, there was a small
emotional moment in the story that surprised me. In the eighth
inning, an outfielder catches a ball that would have gone over the
wall and been a home run. Normally, you'd feel excitement or relief
at something like that, but the feeling was deeper -- more like

Why did we feel redemption? Because the writer set it up. Not the
director or actor or producer or even the studio. The writer designed
that moment.
Naturally, I began searching for what caused that emotion. As always,
my purpose is to discover the structure so you and I can duplicate
the feat of turning a typical scene into a deep emotional one.

A negative occurs that has an emotional impact on a character. It
upsets, humiliates, embarrasses, exposes, etc. the character. Or it
could even be a limitation that the character expresses as a
positive. (You'll see that in one of the PRETTY WOMAN examples
below.) But first, the negative from FOR LOVE OF THE GAME:

The catcher laughs with Kevin Costner about how ESPN always plays the
shot of Mickey Hart, an outfielder, who goes to the wall to catch a
potential homerun, but the ball hits him on the head and bounces over
the wall.

Then, we flashback and watch the painful event happen.

The impact of the negative is shown.

In the locker room, Mickey is humiliated that this happened to him.
He says to Kevin Costner "It will probably end up on ESPN."
Kevin gives him advice about not helping the media to make a fool out
of him.

Obviously, they did make a fool out of him and that's why the catcher
is laughing about how they always play it on ESPN.

The character overcomes the negative.

It's the eighth inning, just when it looks like Kevin Costner is
going to have a "perfect game" with no hits and no men on
base, a long fly ball goes out to Mickey Hart's wall. He runs to the
wall, jumps and catches it just over the top of the wall.

Other characters recognize the change

Suddenly, other characters are shouting "We love you, Mickey
Hart." Kevin Costner nods at him in approval. And the man who
was so humiliated is the one who saves the day.

There it is. We feel so glad that Mickey Hart has redeemed himself
and that other players and the media are showing him respect again.
Why? Because the emotion was designed into the setup. By humiliating
Mickey Hart in the beginning, there was the chance to have a much
more dramatic emotion when we redeemed him.

Now that I've recognized this structure, I realize it is in almost
every movie I've seen. To prove my case, let me present five of the
ten (or more) times it is in the movie PRETTY WOMAN. As you read
through these, it will become more clear how this structure works and
the absolute need for it.

Each one of these is designed to create an emotional experience for
the audience and to cause a "believable change" in one or
more characters.




Vivian is sent out on a mission to get some clothes for an upscale
dinner. She finds a store on Rodeo Drive. Dressed in her hooker
clothes, she goes in and instantly gets dirty looks. She finds a
dress and asks how much it is.

But both of the stuck up clerks refuse to wait on her. Finally, they
say "I don't think we have anything for you. You're obviously in
the wrong place. Please leave."


Humiliated, Vivian walks out. Now she knows that she doesn't fit in.
Upon return to the hotel, she is taken to the office by the Hotel
manager and interrogated. Once again, humiliated.


The hotel manager sets her up with Bridgette to get her a new dress.


When Edward comes in and sees her dressed like a lady for the first
time, he stares. She says "You're late." He responds
"You're stunning." She laughs "You're forgiven."

There is a second time where recognition comes: After a day of
shopping and being "sucked up to," she returns to the first
shop, dressed well and with shopping bags from big stores. She walks
to the stuck up sales lady who refused to wait on her and says
"Remember me? I was in here yesterday. You wouldn't wait on me.
You work on commission, right?...Big mistake. Huge. I have to go
shopping now." She walks out, leaving behind a confused



The Hotel manager spots Vivian coming in wearing her hooker clothes
and takes her into his office. He interrogates her and lets her know
in no uncertain terms that when Edward is gone, she is not come
around the hotel again.


Vivian is very upset. She has been treated badly by many people and
is humiliated that she can't get clothes to look the part. She begs
for his help. She thinks he is calling the cops when he dials
Bridgette to help her get clothes.


He helps her with clothes and teaches her dinner manners. She tells
him that he's "cool."


When she leaves, the manager kisses her hand and says "It's been
a pleasure knowing you. Come and visit us again some time."

When Edward is checking out, the hotel manager looks at the jewels
Edward has asked him to return to the jewelry store. He says
"Must be difficult to let go of something so beautiful."
Edward nods. "You know, Darrel also drove Miss Vivian home



Edward tells his attorney, Phil, that Vivian is a hooker, not a
corporate spy who is trying to get information from him. Then Phil
approaches Vivian and tells her he knows. Even tries to set up a date
with her.


Vivian is humiliated. She and Edward argue. She calls him an asshole
and freaks out emotionally. They insult each other. She demands he
pay her. He tosses the money on the bed.


She leaves the room, but without the money. When he sees that she
left the money, he comes out to the elevator and apologizes for real.
He asks her to stay. Tells her he was jealous of her talking to
another guy.


She chooses to stay and he starts treating her like a woman, instead
of a hooker. From that point on, they interact like a couple. He says
"I think you are a very bright, very special woman."



Edward tells Vivian that he buys companies and breaks them up and
sells the pieces for more than the cost of the whole. Vivian responds
"So it's sort like stealing cars and selling them for


Most of the business conflict is over Edward trying to take over
Morris Industries and tear it apart. Mr. Morris, the 65-year-old says
"I'm sure you understand that I'm not thrilled with the idea of
turning 40 years of my work into your garage sale...Leave my company
alone." As he is leaving, he says to Edward "Watch out,
Lewis. I'm going to tear you apart."

Vivian recaps the evening and says "The problem is, I think you
like Mr. Morris." She tells her philosophy on turning tricks.
Edward says "You and I are such similar creatures. We both screw
people for money."


After a series of negotiations and hard ball moves, Edward neglects
to call the bank and have a loan that Mr. Morris applied for
canceled. Edward talks about how he used to play with blocks,
building things, instead of tearing them apart.

In the final meeting, when Mr. Lewis gives in, Edward tells Mr.
Morris that he has changed his mind about breaking his company apart.
Instead, he wants to protect it and be partners with Mr Morris.


Mr. Morris compliments him "I don't know how to say this without
sounding condescending, but...I'm proud of you."



Edward makes a light attempt to kiss Vivian, but she shuns him. When
she's about to have sex with him, she says "What do you
want?" He says "What do you do?" She:
"Everything, but I don't kiss on the mouth." They have sex,
but no kissing.

She later tells him "Kit is always saying to me; don't get
emotional when you turn tricks. That's why no kissing. It's too

Then they have a sex scene on the piano where he tries to kiss her
twice, but she refuses each advance.


As long as they don't kiss, they're not really in a relationship.


After having the "She's a hooker" argument, he starts
treating her like a person. They go to the opera on a "real
date." Upon returning, she kisses him and they make love for


At lunch with Kit, Vivian says "Edward asked me if I wanted to
see him again, but I think not." Kit says "Oh, no. I know
this weepy look on your face. You fell in love with him, didn't
you?" Vivian denies it. Kit says "You fell in love with
him. Did you kiss him on the mouth?" Vivian admits she did. They
banter back and forth about whether the relationship could work out,
but clearly, she is in love.

What can you do with this?

Essentially, these are little vignettes that play out in your script.
Most of them will be in the background of the real story. Some will
be complete subplots, but others will blend into scenes in ways that
are virtually unnoticeable.

If you are trying to create an emotional moment, look to see if it
has been set up properly. If it hasn't, then set it up to have the
elements of this structure.

You could start with the event you want to be emotional. Let's say
you have a teenaged female character whose father asks her to drive.
It's not a very emotional moment in a story that is all about her
first love. But let's see if using this structure can give this one
moment some emotion.


Her brother is one year older and when he gets his learners permit,
she watches her father gloat over what a good driver he is. But when
it comes time for her to learn to drive, he tells her mother to teach
her. The daughter takes that as evidence that the father doesn't
believe in her.


She cries the whole time her mom is teaching her to drive. Once she
has her driver's license, she expects to drive with her father, but
he hands the keys to the brother. More upset.


She has an argument with her brother about who gets to drive. The dad
overhears it. The next day, he has a special event downtown and hands
her the keys. "I was hoping you'd drive me today."


In the car, he tells her a secret. "You're a much better at most
things than your brother, so I kinda wanted to give him something to
be proud of. I'm sorry that it hurt you."

Okay, it's not brilliant, but it shows that in about two minutes, you
can elevate the emotion of an event just by setting it up well. And
this vignette could be one of those that plays in the background as
she struggles with her identity.

If you've ever had a moment that you thought should be emotional, but
either wasn't or it came off as corny, this may be the solution you
need. You can keep the moment if you just set it up well.



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