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 reconnecting and 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 sexy details, provide a greater diversity of positions, and use courser language, but ultimately, what makes them sexy and romantic is what’s going on in the characters’ heads and hearts, not just what’s happening between their bodies.
What do you think? What aspects do you like best about a great love scene?