Daily Archives: March 20, 2010

How to Write a Page-Turning Love Scene

Reprinted in the April/May/June 2012 issue #67 of Vision: A Resource for Writers

A love scene in a romance novel represents the physical culmination of emotional tension. When written right, it packs a powerful punch, leaving readers with a sense of where the hero and heroine stand. It should be passionate, but also purposeful. My advice? Make the love scene illuminate more than the act of intimacy. Treat it like a major plot point – a means to advance and solidify your story – and hook the reader.

1. A love scene must advance or hinder the courtship of your hero and heroine. Look at it this way: sex either binds them together or pushes them apart. Before you begin writing, decide which motives to instill in the hero and heroine. What are his/her goals? What’s going to happen after the scene? Doubt? A fight? Will the love scene be completed or interrupted?

Another thing to remember: a love scene at the middle of the book must be treated differently than a love scene at the end. When the hero and heroine get along too soon in the novel, it’s a passion killer.

2. Avoid purple prose. Find the delicate balance between flowery and erotic words by familiarizing yourself with love scenes in published romance novels. Check out Goodreads, go to romance groups, and see what people are saying about specific love scenes. Pay attention to which words/actions distract or entice. Think about your own turn-offs and turn-ons. Experiment with the latter until your scene feels steamy.

3. Physical intimacy between a hero and heroine should be consistent with their overall behavior in the novel. If the interaction seems out of character, the reader will sense it. There are exceptions to this rule, of course, but your typical shy heroine won’t behave wildly in the bedroom. Unless you’ve provided adequate foreshadowing, this will come across as an inconsistency in characterization. It may even cause the reader to flip through the scene.

4. Page-turning love scenes don’t use formulas. Surprise your readers. Physical intimacy is more than a sequence of events in a bedroom. Try putting a spin on the typical format of kissing, then sex. Think about location, position, etc. It can be vanilla sex, but make it fresh. One new element is enough to make the scene as unique as the characters involved.

5. Understand your comfort level when writing love scenes. On the spectrum of sexual openness, everyone has preferences and limits. Don’t push beyond those to tailor your writing to the market. Your discomfort will show and the love scene will seem awkward. Instead, focus on what you find sexy, while keeping in mind that the world will be reading this. Have a partner? Experiment! It’s a great excuse for research. All in all, confidence in writing the love scene will give it a quality of realness and that is hard to resist.

6. Consider putting yourself in the mood. How would you romance your mate? Candles? Soft music? It may seem cheesy, but seducing yourself prior to writing lends a mood to the scene. Pictures this: you’re in sweats and have greasy, unwashed hair. What kinda love scene are you gonna write? Now imagine the lighting is soft, you’re wearing a silk negligee, blues music is playing in the background. Definitely sexier.

This is one occasion where you need to stroke your muse. Listen to your inspiration, focus on your characters, and write true to their passion. Even if your first attempt at writing a page-turning love scene requires revising, I’m thinking your mate might be very happy tonight. Sounds like a win-win to me!