Tuesday, March 18, 2014

How to write a love scene

A couple years ago, I attended a fantastic presentation by Angela

Knights on how to write a good sex scene.

Here is more or less what Angela said—I hope I got it right, Angela.

Love scenes illustrate the development of romance. They reveal the way people feel about each other.

A love scene reveals characters, enhances the conflict, and develops the romance.

Love scene and the characters:

How does it reveal the hero? The hero must be experienced. Don’t ever write about a virgin hero! Mention his romantic and sexual history before the first sex scene.

Show how his attitude toward the heroine change in the course of your story.

Show how the heroine helps him develop his strengths and overcome his weaknesses.

The love scene should reveal how he makes love to the heroine, how he finds her different from past lovers, and how his way change toward her by the end of the story.

Before a love scene, we should also know the heroine’s romantic history: how does she feel about sex? In historical romances, a love scene is a big conflict for the heroine who is usually not experienced. Give the heroine good reasons to trust the hero enough to sleep with him.

Picking up a hero in a bar and making love with him is dangerous and borderline erotica.

Is she sexually confident?

How does making love to him change her?

Does she gain confidence in them as a couple?

Let the heroine take the lead in some scenes.

Love scenes make them both grow. A love scene is always a turning point. You develop the plot with a love scene. You also develop the conflict with a sex scene. To intensify the conflict through a love scene you can make him dominant if she doesn’t like an alpha hero. And then make her reaction to him strong and dramatic. Let one character turn the tables on the other—heroine dominates the hero.

Logistic of a love scene: 

A hero can’t go directly to kissing before a few steps of touching that establish trust.

You have to create the environment of trust for her to accept his kiss.

Love scenes should complicate the situation: A love scene is a critical turning point. What problems does it cause? How does it change the way the characters view each other now?

To know if your love scenes make sense read them back to back by themselves and see if the romance grow and develop through these love scenes.

Love scene pacing:

 Where does the love scene fall in the romance? What kind of emotion do you want to communicate? The love scene can intensify the mood: We are at our most vulnerable when making love. This is a perfect time for drama. Taking off clothes is a big act of trust.

Or it can lighten the mood: for example it will keep a romantic suspense or a thriller from getting too dark.

Watch your timing: Characters who are supposed to be hunting the bad guys can’t waste their time making love. Don’t follow a gruesome murder with a love scene.

 Love scene construction:

Don’t rush. You need at least five pages for a satisfying love scene, for emotional impact. Don’t cheat the reader

Set the scene with a sensual environment: sharp vivid emotions with five senses.

A long pre-scene is acceptable but stay clear of purple prose.

Who makes the first move? Stay within characters.

More interesting when there is more than one objective to the love scene.

Sexual roles of hero and heroine: The heroine sets the sexual pace. She decides when characters make love because she’s the one who has the most to lose.

Concentrate on sensual details. Focus on sensations that characters feel. Use lots of sensual details, smell, touch, taste. Reader doesn’t want to guess.

It’s always better to be in her point of view. Don’t shift POV in the middle of a sex scene.

Use a lot of emotion to give love scenes their power.

Use dialog during a love scene

Pillow talk: remember blood doesn’t go to a man’s brain when it rushes elsewhere. So keep dialog lines short and sexy. Moans are not considered dialog!!! Use sense of humor but keep tenderness to the last chapter otherwise your story is over.

Keep sex language appropriate to time and characters.

Keep heat levels corresponding to your readers’ comfort. Trade paperback and ebooks allow sexier content than mass market in terms of language and erotic details.

 Look at other books in the same genre to decide what you can get away with.

Happy Ever After: Readers want to know what it’s like to find HEA with a sexy hero. Capture that experience with passion and imagination.

Remember that your first paragraph sells your book and your last paragraph sells your next book.

{more details in A Guide To Write Erotic Romance by Angela Knights}

 The four books in my box set, Foreign Lovers, follow Angela Knights’s advice. They sizzle with sensual tension and offer you memorable love scene.

Available at Amazon.com


Ana Morgan said...

Thanks for sharing this summary, Mona. Great info here.

Your love scenes sizzle, IMO.

Vijaya Schartz said...

Great advice. Thanks for posting it. Love scenes are the most difficult for me to write.

Cathryn Cade said...


A fine summary, and Angela Knight is of course one of our stellar romance authors, so her words should be noted well! Thanks for sharing.

I had to smile at the advice in the first paragraph, however - 'never write a virgin hero'. I've sold two stories with virgin heroes--both sci fi romance. One features a dragon-shifter, the other a man scarred by childhood abuse. They've been very well-received by readers.

We all have to soak in advice and then adapt to our own tastes, don't we? If we love it, chances are readers will too.

Mona Risk said...

Thank you, Ana. Before writing a love scene, I usually read an erotica novella, or several love scenes from various books. Trying to condition myself. LOL

Mona Risk said...

Hi Vijaya, I'm glad you find it useful.

Mona Risk said...

Hi Cathryn, you made me laugh. In sc. fiction your hero is doing well. I bet he learned fast. LOL

Ana Morgan said...

I like the idea of a virgin but virile hero. I have one in my WIP, and I don't think his virginity detracts from the heat at all.

Ana Morgan said...

I like the idea of a virgin but virile hero. I have one in my WIP, and I don't think his virginity detracts from the heat at all.