Category Archives: Writing

Writing Great Love Scenes

Writing Love Scenes

I’ll be on a romance writing panel with fellow authors Ellen Butler and Kelly Eadon at the Virginia Writers Club annual symposium. While romance doesn’t get much respect in the writing field, it’s the most popular genre fiction. Why? I think it’s because it’s loaded with emotion. But many might argue it’s sex, even though not all romances have, or even allude to, sex.

However, while many romance readers like intimate scenes, sometimes kinky ones even, they don’t want them just for sex sake. If that was the case, they’d read erotica or watch porn. Good love scenes in romance aren’t just there for the titillation; they serve a purpose to the plot and character development. Love scenes shouldn’t be written as a play-by-play of a technical manual: Touch here, insert there.

After studying my favorite romance authors, I’ve learned that what makes a great love scene isn’t so much the mechanics, as much as it is the emotions and sensuality. Some of the best love scenes in books don’t mention body parts hardly at all, and yet, they’re sexy and sensual.

Today, when I write love scenes, I start with the frame of mind of the characters. Are they making up? Are they feeling sad and lonely? Are they playful? Are they needing connection? In Worth the Risk (free novella with my newsletter subscription or membership in my street team), Max and Madeleine have several love scenes. The first is about discovery and finally giving in to the attraction. The second reveals deeper feelings, and yet, a fear of sharing them. The reunion scene is all about connecting, filling the void at the loss they felt when they separated. So not only are their bodies touching, caressing etc, but their minds are at work as well. We can feel the longing and the desire, which increases the sensuality of the mechanics. At least that’s now I see it.

With the release of Fifty Shades of Gray, we’ve seen the popularity of highly explicit romances rise. Having read a few of these, I find my concept of a good love scene holds true. Yes these books show more and provide more diversity of positions and courser language, but ultimately, what makes them sexy and romantic is what’s going on in the characters’ heads and hearts, not just between their bodies.

What do you think? What aspects do you like best about a great love scene?

Noisy Characters and Other Writing Challenges

Noisy Characters - JennaHarte.com

A few years ago, a member of my writers group made a comment about how another writer in the group talked about his characters as if they were real people. He said it like it was a strange thing. To my thinking, the characters in books are real. Maybe not flesh and blood, but they still live.

I suspect many readers feel the same way about characters they read about. I mean…surely Darcy and Elizabeth are real! However, what might be strange for a non-writer to learn is that more often than not, characters write their own stories. Sure, I start off as the leader, creating and putting them in some sort of conflict. But once placed, the characters often take over, telling their stories without too much help from me.

I just finished and submitted book two, Southern Persuasion, of the Southern Heat Series for Penner Publishing. I have a third book, Southern Conflict, due by July 1, which is plenty of time. So much time, that my goal was to finish a cozy mystery first. There is a problem, though. The characters in Southern Conflict won’t be quiet. They’re chattering away when I sleep, drive, run…etc.

This is actually a good thing, because it’s so much easier to write when characters are essentially dictating what they want to say and do. But it definitely makes it hard to write the cozy I had planned (why aren’t those characters making noise?).

You’ll be glad to hear the Valentine’s are making themselves known as well, although not on the next book I have planned for them. Instead, Jack is in Washington, D.C. and unable to get a hold of Tess by phone or text. Something has happened at her boutique. I don’t know what, but poor Jack is beside himself.

So what’s a writer to do? Because writers block is a real thing, the safe action is to write down the story that is running in my mind, which means Southern Conflict has made it to the top of the writing list. I hope to have a draft down by the end of the month or mid-Feb so I can work on my cozy. However, I have been reading my cozy at writer’s group, so I hope to get a few thousands words written on each week. The Valentines have to wait…but not for too long. They’ll be up in April or May, assuming the characters of Southern Conflict keep talking and I’m able to get their story down, revised and edited by then.

 

Annoying Characters

I’m breathing an tentative sigh of relief as To Love, Honor, and Kill: A Valentine Mystery Book Five receives its first reviews (three 5-star reviews so far). It’s always nerve-wracking to release a new book. Will people like it? Will they hate it? In this case, I was especially nervous because I included two other points of view.

Conflict is an essential part of any story, but as I’m sure you’re aware, there is a fine line between establishing realistic conflict and crossing over into annoying. This is a concern for me in most books, but especially so in To Love, Honor, and Kill. For one, I had to have a realistic reason for Daniel to avoid Kate for so many years, and an even better reason for him to finally notice her. At the same time, I didn’t want Kate to be the type of woman to simply fall into Daniel’s arms simply because she’d loved him for so long. The conflict and times of ease between the two of them needed to feel real, not forced. To be honest, I’m not sure I completely succeeded.

Fortunately, even the reviewer that said Daniel and Kate were annoying at times, enjoyed the book overall and gave it 5 stars.

Summer Lovin’ and Fun

sweethartesI’ve had a crazy, busy summer, and have ambitious goals for the fall and winter! To finish the summer, I thought I’d have a little fun by having a giveaway for my Sweet Hartes. Not a Sweet Harte? No worries. You can join in the fun for free. I answer your questions, give sneak peaks to upcoming books, have giveaways and more. Visit the Sweet Hartes at Facebook to join now! Then be sure to stop by to see what sorts of fun and goodies will be going on in August.

More news….

I announced on Facebook, that I just received a 3-book deal on my Southern Heat romance series. The first book, Southern Comfort, was the book that sat at Harlequin for nearly 2 years (1 yr, 11 mos, 3 weeks…but who’s counting)! Luckily, during the wait I got an agent, beefed up the book and sold it to Penner Publishing! Southern Comfort will be released in January, at which point book two, Southern Persuasion will be due. The third book, Southern Conflict (I may ask to change that title), is due in July.

I’m very excited to have received this deal. Unfortunately, it puts off more Valentine books for a time. My goal is still to have To Love, Honor and Betray: Valentine Book 5 published in September as well as a Christmas Valentine short story in December. I have several other book ideas for the Valentines, but with the three book deal at Penner, I need to get the other two books written. Plus I have a new idea for a cozy that I’m eager to write (probably for NaNoWriMo).

Here is a picture of fall/winter writing schedule:

Jenna Harte Fall 2015 Writing Schedule

It’s a little ambitious, but I can write fast when I clear my schedule and I know what I want to write. I know you might be questioning this as it has taken forever for Valentine 5 to get finished. That has been partly busy schedule and partly plot issues. But starting in August, I’m making a big push to get it done and to my editor before the end of the month.

So that’s it for now… I’m off to write and when it’s time for a break, I hope I’ll see you in the Sweet Hartes group.

I Promise to Do Better…

Last week while I was on vacation with my family, I got a call from my agent that a publisher was interested in buying Southern Comfort. Whoop! Happy dance. At the same time, I had this sense of dread because the offer included a three-book deal (another whoop), but I still haven’t published Valentine book five. Guilt! On top of that, all my traveling left me little time to engage on social media or be involved with the Sweet Harte Street Team.

I’m home now and in a few weeks my kids are off to college, which I hope means more time to write. My goal is to have Valentine five published in September. And because I feel so bad that it’s taken so long, I hope to have a short Valentine Christmas novella for you in December.

I hope you’ll be excited about Southern Comfort. It’s a romance that will be part of a series that take place in Central Virginia. Many publishers like the southern setting and had great things to say about it, even when they didn’t buy it. Once that series is done, I hope to move on to a cozy mystery that’s been peculating in my brain. That doesn’t mean the Valentines are done, though. I have several story ideas for them.

Although the writing (and revising and editing) are foremost, I hope that I’ll do better staying connected with you. If you’re a member of the Sweet Harte Street Team, I’m working with my virtual assistant to come up with fun stuff, giveaways and more. (If you have ideas, I’d love to hear them).