Romance authors face one of the most challenging obstacles a writer can face. We often include scenes in our books that show the consummation of a relationship. We write about sex. Sometimes graphically, sometimes with a great deal of innuendo. It depends on the author the type of book and the story.
But what we really do is describe something that you can pretty much bet most of our readers have done. And they probably consider themselves at least fairly good at it, if not an expert. So, how do you craft a love scene so that it’s fresh, new and interesting?
Who Are These People and Why Should I care?
· Establish your characters first, put them together for a reason, (a good reason) and then let them have at it.
· Sex scenes should still be advancing the story. Consider why you have this scene at this point in the story.
· Consider why you are putting this in? Is it because you think by a certain page the relationship should be consummated? Or, does this advance the relationship to the next level?
· Is there chemistry between the characters? If they’ve been fighting for fifty pages and then suddenly fall into bed with each other, the reader is going to wonder why.
Slap and Tickle
· Sexual Tension is fun, seduce the reader with a series of encounters and build anticipation for the love scene. We enjoy banter, because it builds a relationship with talking. Talking to each other when you are falling in love is a good thing. That’s how we learn if this person is truly a mate we want to commit to long-term.
· Tease the reader. Set up situations that bring the couple together, and not always under stress. Even in an intense book, the characters need to stop and take a deep breath once in a while.
· Focus on Emotion and making the reader care about the characters. Keep asking yourself – What is the character feeling? How do I show this?
· Give hints – nudity, bath scenes, lingerie. Create sexy situations, and it doesn’t have to be a nude scene. One of the sexiest women ever, Elizabeth Taylor, did more with a slip than most women could with pasties and a garter belt.
Using Tools (From Your Writer’s Toolbox – What did you think I was talking about?)
· Where? Use your setting whenever possible. In Whistle Down the Wind, I sent my couple on a long sea cruise. Well, it probably wasn’t that romantic to travel by sea in the 17th century, with small, crowded ships, horrible food, (with insects in it), scurvy and the stench of many people crowded onto a small vessel. But, that’s not the part I wrote about. I created sensual scenes of playful lovemaking, and some seriously sexy stuff. Put your couple together in situations that invite opportunities to make love.
Avoid clichéd phrases and euphemisms (and “Oh God!” is one of those).
Don’t use Part A fits into Slot B because the reader knows where those parts go.
Medical terms are boring, but be historically correct. Find out what people called their parts and use the names. Do the research.
Know your audience and their expectations. A “hot” really is different from a “steamy”. “Red hot and steamy” - well - you get the idea.
It’s not a football game and we don’t need an announcer.
· Sex is funny, use humor to provide comic relief. Imagine if aliens dropped in to see a human couple... coupling. They’d probably fall on the floor laughing.
· You can leave some things to the imagination or be explicit – it’s up to you.
· Vocabulary – use words that incite the imagination and are provocative
· Dialogue enhances a love scene and can show emotion. Pillow talk is fun.
Whose Bed-Head Are We In?
· Single or Multiple (POV)? It’s your choice but be consistent. Or you can alternate POV of hero and heroine. What does he really think of her?
· What are we learning about this character?
· Who has the most to lose? That’s often our POV character.
· Know the boundaries of the genre you are writing.
· Know what the Editor/Publisher likes.
· Be aware of what YOU are comfortable writing
Writing these scenes can be challenging but a good love scene can also emotionally engage your reader.
Sibelle Stone is the pseudonym for award winning historical romance author Deborah Schneider. Sibelle writes sexy steampunk and paranormal stories, filled with mad scientists, dirigibles, automatons, and creatures that would scare the panties off Deborah. In her spare time Sibelle enjoys dressing up in Victorian ensembles, modding play guns into something that looks a bit more sinister and wearing hats.