The tickle of curiosity. The gasp of discovery. Fingers running across the keyboard.

Saturday, July 9, 2016

12 Steps to Getting Your Heroine Laid: Info for Writers

Twelve steps - that's it.

Really, it's pretty easy from a physical signalling point of view.

Just how far your heroine lets things go before she throws up a block is up to you. I mean -- she is acting a little stressed out. A little wild monkey sex might just be the thing...

It's going to take some plot-thought, though. There are lots of decisions that influence the 12 steps to getting your heroine laid.

Consider your characters - both partners of the potential hot and steamy scene. Things can go very very fast or very slow. It can go smooth as silk, or you can take them on a turbulent ride.

Who's involved?
  1. What are their personal moral backgrounds?
  2. What have they experienced in their intimate pasts? What would help? What is a roadblock?
  3. How do they see intimacy? What is the import? Is she using him to gain state secrets? Or does she have too many cats and too little human affection?
  4. Where do they want this relationship to go? Is this a wam bam thank you, man; or is this heading to a lifetime of commitment.
  5. How about the cultural norms of the region, the time period, and the families?

This information is based on scientific study. Desmond Morris in his seminal book Intimate Behaviour: A Zoologist's Classic Study of Human Intimacy laid out 12 simple steps. 

The 12 Stages of Physical Intimacy
1. Eye to body – The girl is in the power seat.

The female will take in the body structure, clothes, bearing and other clues. If she is attracted, she will seek step 2.

But it doesn't have to produce attraction. All primates follow these same patterns so either person can re-route the interactions at any point in the continuum. Someone might be walking in and meeting their boss for the first time or their whomever. Eye to body - prejudging happens first.

2. Eye to eye –
Eye to eye for the first time is a very important stage setting for their interactions. What does your heroine see there? Safety? Menace? Disinterest? What does she offer up in her gaze as a return? Self-preservation? Intelligence? Cunning?

In attraction-interaction the woman will hold the gaze for a nano-second longer than is the norm, and then flick her hair or give some other preening body information, allowing the male to approach (see this blog article on attraction).

Ah, potential studmuffin passed the test. He got a hair flick offered up. Now the ball is in HIS court.

Stud-muffin likes what he sees; she has merriment in her eyes. He'd like to know what's put it there. He weaves his way through the crush.

3. Voice to voice – Holy smokes - someone has to start the interaction, typically the approaching male. Please, nothing schmarmy...

Let's keep it simple. How about he says, "Hi, I'm Reed," and then offers his hand for a greeting handshake?

4. Hand to hand (or arm) – She accepts the shake, and they are 1/3 of the way to bed!

Well a handshake isn't really going to get him past #4. This is walking hand in hand, or her resting her hand on his forearm, possibly her taking his arm as she totters along on her high heels.

How's your hero doing in his wooing efforts? If he jumps around the continuum, I'm not saying he's not going to get any. I'm just saying there's kind of a plan in place for all primates and if he moves from 1 to 2 to 3 to 4 and so on up the charts, it's going to be a smoother ride. (He did hold back that schmarmy pick-up line, right?)

5. Arm to shoulder

So they leave together walking arm in arm, things are looking up from your heroes dry spell.

"Wait," you're thinking. "What if it didn't work this way? What if things jumped from steps 0-6 in 1.2 seconds?"

Your hero, chasing the villain is running down the street. The villain turns and pushes the girl into the hero's arms and vaults through the doors as they close on the subway. The heroine has not assessed hero's body, not caught his eye, didn't give him the "you may approach" signal, never heard a word from his lips directed at her only the "Stop!" that he was shouting at the bad guy. All of a sudden without the benefit of hand to hand then arm to shoulder, he's got his arms wrapped around her waist.

That, my friend, is going to take some unraveling. It could be a really fun piece of writing. She may be moving through the steps to quickly catch up - but since she didn't get to signal, things are not going as biologically planned. It's going to be awkward. They're going to flounder to get back on the path - whether their aim is to take all 12 steps or not.

6. Arm to waist, or back –
Read this as a man signalling that this is his (potential) mate. Back off, buddy.
It is also read as a protective gesture.
Think about how the couple walks into the room/restaurant/event. Does your hero stake his claim so all of the other men glancing up know the girl's not available?
Also think slow dances and whispered conversations.

7. Mouth to mouth – the kiss. Sigh. Do you see that they are more
than halfway down the path BEFORE the kiss can happen.

8. Hand to head – This can start with something like tucking a stray piece of hair behind her ear. Or she puts her head on his shoulder, and he strokes her hair. Maybe she is attending to his head wound. Lots of creative ways to do this. Think about it, since you've grown up, how many people besides your hairdresser, do you let touch your head? There has to be a special connection for this to feel okay.

Don't skip this step as you write the ramping up of a romance - for some reason it's one that often gets overlooked. Your audience may not know why they didn't buy into the scene - but on some biological level, they know a step has been missed. If she's a spy who needs the flash drive - that's okay; it's not about an emotional commitment. But if this is your main romance, slow it down studmuffin and do your due diligence.
9. Hand to body – This is the first step to foreplay. This is decision making time for your characters - how far are they willing to let this get in this scene?

10. Mouth to breast –Either partner can make a decision about calling it a pass, and moving toward the door. Feelings are going to be hurt. Frustrations are going to be ramped. Sure, she can say "stop" and "no" at any point. But really this is kind of the polite time to give the partner a heads up - "This is fun, but I'm not the kind of girl who does it in the back seat of a car with a stranger -- no matter how well tasks 1-9 were performed."

11. Hand to genitals - The further the characters move towards coitus the more difficult/frustrating/plot-twisting it will be if they are suddenly stymied. His anatomy isn't cooperating. The husband bursts into the room. They hear a window break downstairs.

12. Genitals to genitals – TAH DAH!!!!!

On stage or off stage. Fast or slow. Bumbling or smooth - lots of wonderful decisions to be made here. Coitus Interruptus. Completely content. Raisin in the sun - in desperate need of rehydration...

Now to write the ramifications.


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  1. Loved this post! Not only was it a good 'check,' but it was also fun to read! I have to admit, as a writer, I've found my characters at #5 a few times! It does take a bit of unraveling, but can make steps 6-12 even more rewarding!

    Thanks for another great article!

  2. An outstanding example of "head to head" is the scene in It's A Wonderful Life when George (Jimmy Stewart) and Mary (Donna Reed) are sharing a telephone call from Sam Wainright (Frank Albertson), who is offering a "get in on the ground floor" opportunity. It evokes the scents, warmth, and distraction beautifully while the surroundings recede. They are a world unto themselves and haven't even touched yet.

    It starts a little over a minute into this clip:

    1. What a great scene! Thank you for sharing it with me. Of course, step 8 is hand to head. But, studying this scene is a great way to see how attraction is present and the chemistry is flowing. It makes the audience HOPE the two will get together. There's tension in not knowing whether or not this will work out. So it's a really interesting scene.