Tips For Writing Love Scenes Part 2
This is publisher driven. If you’re writing for yourself, use all the naughty words you want. Last year, I was reading a fellow author in Harlequin Presents (M&B Modern/Sexy in UK/Aus). I came across a word that rhymes with ‘clock.’ I was shocked! Not because the word offends me, but because we don’t use graphic language in a Presents. I contacted her and she admitted that it had been a copy editing error that allowed it. She wasn’t likely to get away with it again.
If the thought of being held back with your language raises your hackles, find a publisher who lets you write what you like. I grew up reading Presents and feel one hundred percent comfortable with euphemisms. But sometimes I like to hit an F-sharp and I can do that in my novellas for Montana Born.
2) Size matters
I’ve written pages and pages to spell out the progression of a love scene and I’ve lifted a skirt in one sentence.
An Heir To Bind Them opens with a rather long love scene because Jaya is making love for the first time and was sexually assaulted in the past. She wasn’t planning to have sex with Theo so it starts with a goodbye kiss. That leads to fooling around and finally they take it to the bedroom.
I wanted to show how she was overcoming very natural and real reservations and why Theo was the perfect man for her. (Patient, respectful, honest.) To ring true for me, her trust needed to build in increments.
In other cases, where my purpose is to show that the characters have plateaued in a happy place of sexual compatibility, but they still have work to do on the relationship, I keep things short.
I keep saying this, but like every other scene, go into more detail when you’re at a turning point or the stakes are high. The more important any scene is to the overall story, the more words you lay down.
3) Maintaining sexual tension
This is tough! Don’t kid yourself that it’s easy, especially if your characters have already had sex. But here’s the trick: it’s tension. Your character is being pulled into two directions. On the one hand, sexual pleasure, yay! Of course your character wants that. Now, what’s drawing your character away from that?
Sometimes the other end of this balance is external: a plot element like career or a child or whatever goal your character is trying to accomplish. Sometimes it’s internal. Your hero believes he’s not good enough for the heroine. She is convinced he’s not as emotionally invested as she is and wants to self-protect by resisting him.
Done right, you can actually have terrific tension when they already know how good the sex can be.
Set the scene and make the setting relevant. For my Presents, I try to sprinkle the fairy dust of luxury into every scene, especially the first kiss and first lovemaking. Readers pick up Presents for the fantasy of exotic locations and glamorous lifestyles.
But I have a love scene in Hustled To The Altar set in the basement of a hotel. I deliberately went there because my characters are digging deep into the sludge of their souls. They shouldn’t be coming together when Renny is technically engaged to another man. It’s a very low thing that they’re doing so I put them at the bottom of an elevator shaft. It’s also a comedy, so I got away with it.
Which brings us to:
In my Presents, emotion and drama are paramount. I use angsty language and the sex, even when it’s great, is devastating on some level. There’s a bit of room for playfulness, but I usually save that tone for later love scenes and my other stories, like the Montana Born novellas.
Above all, remember that you’re writing romance. You can be earthy, but the ‘ideal’ version of earthy. However your characters are coming together, make it romantic enough that your reader releases a breathy sigh of satisfaction when it’s over.
Award winning author Dani Collins wrote for twenty-five years before selling to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. Since then, she’s turned in more than a dozen titles to Harlequin Presents, two erotic romances to HarlequinE and four sexy, small-town novellas to Tule’s Montana Born. She has even found homes for some of her previously rejected manuscripts, including indie-publishing her single title romantic comedy, Hustled To The Altar and signing with a small press for her medieval fantasy, The Healer.
Dani doesn’t have any hobbies. She’s too busy writing. Her current releases include, Seduced Into The Greek’s World, a June print and ebook from Harlequin Presents and His Blushing Bride from Montana Born, an ebook that can be found on most major platforms.
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Dani Collins latest release:
Seduced Into The Greek's World
"I want you, Natalie. Not after five o'clock. Now."
Every woman has a fantasy she only dares dream about in the dead of night. But for single mom Natalie Adams, the reality of an affair in Paris with infamous billionaire Demitri Makricosta surpasses even her wildest dreams!
Demitri is astounded by fiery Natalie. One night isn't enough, so to quench his lust he insists she become his mistress. The closer Natalie gets to emotions Demitri has kept locked away, the more he distracts her with dazzling gifts and luxury holidays to ensure that seduction remains the only thing between them…