When she writes loves scenes, Janet Evanovich sits alone in her dedicated writing room, drinks a glass of champagne and nibbles from a bowl of M&Ms. Her Stephanie Plum series of murder mysteries are rapid fire and have a dose of sex but she finds them difficult to write. How do you write love scenes or do not write them because you are hesitant?
There are many rules about writing love scenes and surprisingly most of them apply to Christian romance novels as well as “bodice rippers” and those general romance stories by Richard Paul Evans, Nora Roberts, Sandra Brown, and Nikki Arana. (Forget the hard-core stuff. I do not know any authors and do not want to comment on it.)
1. Know your audience and yourself.
Write what you are comfortable saying.
Write the scenes your readers expect based on the plot.
Use words that appeal to you and fit the plot.
2. Make sure the scene adds to the story line.
Gratuitous sex just to sell a book or to nab a publisher is tawdry and
demeaning to you and the reader. Write love scenes not sex scenes.
3. We all know the rules of building tension in a plot.
Sexual tension needs to be built up from the beginning of the story. You must show how the characters’ relationship gets to the point where they make love.
Write the characters to have an attraction at their first meeting.
Keep them thinking about each other in a slightly sexual way.
“He noticed her lips right away.” “She loved men with red hair and he had long, curly red hair…. and a red beard!”
There have to be consequences of having sex further into the
4. Balance your scenes between emotions and physical acts.
Write so the actions are not too distracting.
Rarely do characters have sex just for sex’ sake.
Understand that most of your audience knows how its done.
Make it part of the tension of plot as well as tension in the scene.
Sometimes sex is not necessary for the story.
Decide if the scene will be fast and hot or slow and romantic.
5. Use the five senses to enhance the setting.
Are they in her childhood bedroom that is soft and pink and
smells of her shampoo? Are they in the woods and
the gentle breeze through the pine trees sounds like waves and
the air smells like fresh rain? Are they in a hotel room or car?
Use descriptive nouns to set the scene. It can’t all be about
body parts or actions, or it is boring and readers skip it.
6. Do not make the scenes long.
7. Make sure that the readers know that eventually these characters will make love. An out-of-the-air scene is not helpful.
8. Write love scenes from one person’s point of view. The other character can think about it later in order to give the reader the other half of the couple’s feelings about what happened.
9. Do not let the sex scenes overpower the main plot. It should add to the plot but not be THE element of the story.
10. Avoid clichés and foolish names for body parts.
11. Write the scenes as they are scheduled into the story. Do not save them for the last and insert them where you thought they would fit.
12. Have some fun. Think happy thoughts while you write even if you write in the closet by candlelight.