Writing Erotic Tension with Yael van der Wouden
February 12, 2023
Tell me if this sounds familiar: that moment in the story where it feels like something is just about to happen, and two characters stand infuriatingly close, and you’re on the sidelines shouting: kiss! Just kiss already!
What is it that creates that gorgeous tension, that enrages and engages and makes us turn the page? What elements allow us to believe a character’s desire? What tricks do authors use to make us feel eager, restless, perhaps even a little hot under the collar ourselves?
In this one day workshop we’ll unravel the mysteries of erotic tension and set out to write some sexy scenes of our own. The goal of this workshop will be to introduce an understanding of erotic tension as a driving force: on a story level, scene level, and textual level. That is to say, how to imbue your plot with tension, but also smaller elements like touch, movement—or even the language itself.
During the first half of the workshop, we’ll consider and analyze moments of desire in poetry and literature (we’ll be reading Ellen Bass, Carmen Maria Machado, Elaine Castillo and others). Each reading will be accompanied by an assignment. The second half of the workshop will be dedicated to writing an erotic scene of our own, using our newly acquired tools.
This workshop is open to writers of all genres: whether or not erotica plays a big part in your writing, the workshop will send you home with a deeper understanding of tension as a driving force in storytelling!
YAEL VAN DER WOUDEN is a teacher and writer based in Utrecht, The Netherlands. She lectures in creative writing and comparative literature (Utrecht University, Maastricht University, Rietveld Art Academy, and Rotterdam’s The Writer’s Guide). She specializes in erotica, both in teaching as well as with her own work. Her short stories and essays exploring Jewishness and queer identity have been published in places such as The Sun Magazine, The Offing, The Jewish Book Council, and other places. Her first novel, The Safekeep, is a dark erotic mystery set in post-war Netherlands and is forthcoming in 2024.