Monday, February 14, 2011

What's Love Got to do With It?

Well, if you're a romance writer--then it has a lot to do with it.

In honor of Valentine's Day and overspending on flowers, cards, and candy that will go straight to my hips--I'm dedicating this blog to Love. Well....Love scenes, anyway. Ah yes, that four letter word. It doesn't matter if you hate overuse it...It can have so many different meanings. Lead to many different things.

Point is: Love scenes will/can make or break a book.

Is it the kiss your readers have been dying to see happen? The way your hero's gaze lingers in the direction of the woman he's interested in? The revelation of secret love? r is it the full out romp-in-the-sheets frenzy that sends your hormones buzzing with excitement? Whatever your tastes, make sure you write what you feel comfortable writing. If you don't enjoy sex, or feel uncomfortable describing it on paper, then maybe you will be more prone to writing those sweet, melt your heart romances. Trust me, if you write what you don't enjoy--it's going to show. Love scenes don't always have to be detailed to the very last dirty thought--you can always end it before the clothes come off. Then can always end it way, way later.

So what makes a good love scene? The trick is getting them right. I can't begin to tell you how important this is. A good love scene will add to your story. It's not something you put in just because you want it in there. That's just sex and there is a place for that...but not in romance. No, a love scene must move the plot forward, must change the people involved in it, and must serve some purpose other than getting your readers all hot and bothered.

The scene should be perfect only for the two involved in it. It can't be something that could happen with any other couple in any other story--uniqueness or tailor made scenes is key. This is where knowing your characters really comes in handy. You should know how he/she will act and what they like.

Dialogue is important to. It doesn't matter how much or how little, but use it. This can set the mood just as much as description. Real sex doesn't happen without at least a few words in between. Why should your story differ? You can really have fun with this. Teasing, dirty talk, tension building, humor. Yes, even humor! Sex doesn't always happen without some insecurity. Getting naked is sometimes embarrassing. Adding humor in it can give the mood a lighthearted lift--make things a bit more comfortable for your characters. As well as your readers.

Don't be scared to use naughty words. If that's what the scene calls for. I mean, you never have a virgin acting like a nympho. Right?  But don't fear being a little dirty. Four letter words during sex don't have to come off lewd...I've seen some great love scenes that used a good amount of this and still came out shining. (no pun intended) Also, don't use cheesy, clinical, or crude terms unless your scene calls for it. Or it's part of the character's personality. Nothing will make a reader grimace more than: "She grabbed ahold of his member, feeling her vagina react in such a way it made her heady."


Here's an example of a love scene done well, by Madelaine Bauman, from her novel Hybrid Blood....

I felt Owen sit down next to me. His hand moved in soothing circles. “What happened back there doesn't matter right now. You're safe.” his hand moved up from my back to the nape of my neck. I shifted in the seat as I felt my legs weaken. My mouth went dry and the hot temperature of my skin became comfortable.
“What are you doing, Owen?”
He chuckled. “What's it look like to you?”
“Like you're trying to seduce me.”
“Good guess.”
I stood again, my senses dizzy. This isn't right. I met Owen's eyes and I felt the heat travel dangerously low. I clenched my hands, mentally screaming at my body to not respond like a lowborn nimal. I turned away from him. You're not a love slave anymore—you bow to no one's wishes! Still, I could feel Owen's gaze burn into my back and my thoughts spun. I heard him get up. His arms wrapped around me, pulled me to him and I bit my lip. Don't react! Be as stone.
“Do you hate me, Calias?”
I sucked in a ragged breath. “What would you say if I did?”
Owen chuckled. “We always want things that are bad for us, don't we?”
“Get away from me!” But as his mouth traced my neck, I found every cell in my body exploding. It was hard to breathe. “This isn't right, my Lord...”
“Call me that again, love.” His breath, hot against my ear, made me bite down harder on my lower lip. Do. Not. React. I was trembling. Owen slid a hand down one arm, his hand closed gently around one wrist. A crooked smile appeared. “Your heart's racing...”
“Don't lie to me. That's not fear I smell.” His smile turned into a grin as he bent to kiss my neck again, inhaling deeply. The heat of his breath on my neck as his exhaled made me shift my weight from one foot to the other. His lips moved from my neck to my jaw, the touch featherlight. “You know, Calias,” I felt his teeth nip playfully at my earlobe. “have I ever told you of the greatest gift a narik can give his dasi?”
“I don't think so.” But I have a good idea of what it is. I felt my breath hitch as his hand moved up and down my stomach, teasing me. My hands twitched and I felt his hand lift my wrist to his mouth. My whole body burned with a strange, raw need. I fought his hold harder. “Owen...stop teasing me.” My voice came out a strangled moan.
“And why should I?” he laughed softly. “It's fun.”
“Fun for you perhaps...but for me it's...” I stopped, trying to think of a way to deflate this man's ego. Instead, all I could come up with was: delicious torture. Owen unlocked me from his grasp. Turning around to face him, I put my hands on his shoulders. Voice shaking, I smiled. Something felt off, even as another need—primal, instinctual—was unleashed full force. Pulling him to me, I felt his hands run down my back, sneaking up my shirt to touch bare skin. His skin was warm. So good. So wrong. I ran my hands through his hair and his lips came down on mine hard. His nails dug into my skin and I broke away to breathe, only to have him steal my breathe again. He let me go, nearly tearing my tunic and shirt off in his haste to unclothe me. I felt his mouth crush mine again and I felt his hands move to run under my thighs before he lifted me up into his arms. The heat was suffocating, but felt so wonderful as I pressed him closer to me. As I inhaled the scent of his skin, I shuddered as the heat within my stomach focused within my thighs. I felt Owen lower me onto the cot, his mouth hot on my skin. He seemed to have six pairs of hands, all running across my body, everywhere at once. But all I could smell as I tried to breathe was that smell on his skin—it made me think a strange mixture of cinnamon, soft glowing candlelight, and the warmth of his arms all at once. Dizzy, I pushed his shirt up and he muttered a curse as he fought to toss it aside.
He stopped and looked at me, his eyes alight with something wild. Untamable. He smiled. “You know, if I could stay in this tent with you forever, I would.”
“Would you be my property or would I be yours?” I felt my mouth tremble as I tried to hold in the tears.
“Calias...” he held my face in his hands and I felt his lips capture the tears. “I was angry, I wasn't thinking...I'm sorry.” I stared up at the ceiling, wanting fiercely to believe him, to forget this had ever happened. Pushing the incident to the back of my mind, I nodded and kissed him, hooking my legs around his waist...

Ha ha,  I know..I'm so rude to cut you off. :)
But you see how all these points can be worked into a love scene? Not only should it keep your readers on the edge of your seat--but even you should feel your pulse kick up by the time you're done writing it.


  1. LOL. After reading that, I was like "You cut me off damn it!" I wanted to read more. And I wrote this! I know how it goes. Got me all hot and bothered. But it illustrates the key points well, I have to admit.

    :D Awesome blog, and thanks for using my piece.

    - M

  2. WOW. LOL. Rawr! Me like! I can't believe you cut it off, though! lol!

    The scene is written so well, and I love how you make the points about details and keeping it to what the scene calls for. I hate gratuity, unless it's in an erotic novel, which I rarely read.

    Great post, and what a great V-Day scene!


  3. I don't blame you for wanting more Maddie LOL even if you wrote it :) That's how it should be, no? If our own scenes don't turn us on--how will it readers? I was sweating by the end of this scene when I first read it heh heh heh
    Thanks for letting me use it! Glad you both liked it :)

  4. What a great Valentine's post! A perfect topic with great tips as usual. And that love scene was HOT! But not fair that you cut us off like that :(
    Great blog post :)

  5. I loved the pictures you posted up. I thought you made a good point when you said don't use wierd words for the male/female genetalia. LOL. Nothing kills the mood quicker than that. And it's so true--how four letter words in a love scene don't have to be gross or lewd. I use them sometimes. Great post.

  6. Oh what a great post and excerpt! I feel so privileged to have read something from this author before and am looking forward to seeing her stuff on shelves in the future!

  7. I couldn't stop laughing when I saw the word vagina! I would burn the book if ever I read something like that :D
    Ha ha that's so funny.
    What an amazing example of a love scene.
    I might need a cold shower..

  8. Phew! is it hot in here or is just that scene?
    Awesome as always

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