When you take on the task of writing a love scene, whether for a novel or a short story, your goal is to paint a picture that will live in your reader’s memory forever. To do that, you are going to have to know more than the right words and how to use them. It will even take more than setting a sexy scene in the room you’re writing in. You will need to understand your characters, their emotions, and how to set everything about their relationship into motion. This article will help you take the steps into the sweet, the steamy, and the unforgettable romance you want to write.
Keep It Real
Make your love scenes real instead of maudlin and overly sentimental by thinking of them in real life terms. Begin by deciding what you are comfortable with reading and writing, then let your characters decide their level of intimacy. Make your love scenes real by making your characters real and interesting. Give them full back stories, though you may not actually put it all on paper. Fully developed characters with families, hobbies, good and bad habits will certainly make you want to find out what turns them on.
Quicken The Reader’s Pulse
Every encounter between your characters must increase awareness of what the hero and heroine mean to each other. As the writer, you already know that the characters are fated for each other and destined for no one else in the world. For that reason, every look and touch has to be larger than life. When the hero and heroine touch, even accidentally, sparks should fly between them. When they look at each other, the emotional impact should rip boldly and solidly through the characters and the reader. Sexual tension should reach a searingly critical point that will push both the reader and the characters to breathless excitement, making them rush to a VERY satisfying Happily Ever After.
- Sexual tension between your hero and heroine should begin the very first time they come together in your novel, and it needs to increase with each subsequent meeting.
- If there’s no tension between a couple, a love scene is going to seem abrupt and clumsy, probably confusing and embarrassing the reader as much as the characters.
More Than Just “The Act”
Remember that Romance and Pornography are two VERY different things. Romance should have an equal balance between sexuality and emotional bonding. Think of pornography as strictly being sex with little or no bonding. Romance novels are about relationships and your love scene should never ignore or cheat that. Your hero and heroine need to get to know each other right down to the scars left by a childhood accident. Your reader should be so intimately involved with your characters that they know everything the characters know, go through everything they go through, feel everything they feel, and share everything they think.
Use your characters’ background, hobbies, and life experiences (yeah, you really DO
need to do those character sketches) and they will help you choose the words they would use in a love scene. Don’t set out to use the most graphic and vulgar words you can find. The explicit language that may seem integral to a steamy and erotic adult novel will be completely wrong for a “sweet” or young adult story, and you need to keep that in mind as you write. Your language should never be intentionally corny or include words or phrases that make you uncomfortable. Use the words that are appropriate for your characters, even if they are not appropriate to YOUR life.
Don’t linger too long on individual love scenes because sometimes, less really is more. Sometimes a very short scene can sum up an erotic encounter more completely than pages and pages of graphic detail. Use your words to heighten the characters’ awareness of each other and keep the action moving. Don’t let yourself get bound up in emotional or physical aspects for too long. Don’t let your characters get so caught up in fluffy words that they lose meaning and intensity. By the same token, avoid making the characters intimate physical and emotional bonding into sheer mechanical sex – it is NOT what readers are looking for. Readers want to have all of their senses engaged and challenged. They should be so fully bound to your characters that they share sensory experiences (hearing, smelling, and touching). This makes them real.
Choose your point-of-view (pov) very carefully. Because Romance deals with relationships, your reader needs to know character viewpoint, but you don’t want to create confusions and conflict in your story line. This means that you will have to outline carefully and make judicious use of pov – and then stick with your decision. Pitting one character’s voice against another’s emotions and thoughts is a trick used by a lot of writers, while still others choose to have a secondary character’s word and thoughts give depth to the lovers relationship.
Dialogue is sexy, and so is humor when used appropriately. Look to your characters. Would they have sex in total silence? How do they approach each other? Are they wild and crazy, or more likely to express their passion in soft words and moans? Romance can be everything from sweet to sexy, and each of these has its own rhythm and language. Your use of dialogue in a scene can convey everything from reverent devotion to wild footprints on the ceiling. Excite your reader with everything from humor to anger and back again.
The caution here is not to let your characters talk too much. Use the conversation to flesh out your characters and their relationship. If the dialogue does not advance the story and the relationship cut it immediately.
Reveal something with each love scene. Don’t use love scene for the sake of filling pages or just to write sex. Every intimate encounter should be necessary and add another layer, building the emotional bond into something unbreakable – even if it is imperfect. The heart of every romance novel should be the emotional bond between the hero and heroine. Everything else is a layer of that emotional bond–be it children, internal or external conflicts, and, yes, lovemaking. Don’t lose sight of that as you write your love scenes. Make every intimate scene count, and every scene you write should ALWAY advance your plot.