Love Scenes for the Wary Writer

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“Oh, John.”

“Ohhh, Marsha.”

“Oh…we’re being watched, darling. Hands down.”

“But, my hands are quite content here on your…”

“Shh! She’ll hear, darling.”

“Let her hear. Why should we be ashamed of our love?”

dancing-couple“We shouldn’t, but you see, our poor writer’s face has turned at least fifty shades of red.”

“So, what should we do? Continue like no one’s watching or shut the door before we steam up her spectacles?”

“It’s entirely up to our writer, darling. We’ll have to wait until she’s ready.”

“I can’t just stand here with your splendid body in such close proximity and keep my hands to myself. It’s torture of the most horrific kind!”

“I know. So, what will it be, dear writer? Shall we throw propriety to the wind or hide our love behind closed doors? Or something in between, perhaps? You hold the reins, so don’t keep us waiting. Please!”

Poor John and Marsha. Have you ever attempted to write a love scene and instead left your couple hanging because you didn’t know how to proceed? Has the mere thought of describing sexy moves and intimate body parts made your cheeks burn? Well, you’re not alone. All writers of romantic scenes have faced this dilemma at one point or another.

So, how do you continue? How do you ensure you don’t leave John and Marsha in dire straits?

Rule #1: Don’t force it!
If you try to write a love scene that goes against your comfort level, it’ll show. John and Marsha will be as awkward as a stiff Barbie & Ken. This isn’t to say that you can’t TRY for the steam, but if you find your blood pressure rising as the clothes start dropping to the floor, then don’t be ashamed to move it behind closed doors.

Rule #2: Who’s your audience?
If you’re writing for adults who are familiar with more erotic activities, you can employ a wide range of steam. If you’re writing for teens or young adults or for an inspirational line, keeping it implied or very light is best.

Rule #3: Read and learn!
Many authors can pull off fabulous love scenes, so learn from them. Decide whose scenes you think you could emulate, and give it a try with your own characters. If you find things too steamy for your taste, tone it down a bit, or if you feel comfortable spicing it up, then go for it! Your practice sessions are for your eyes only, after all. Then, when you write something you’re proud of…

Rule #4: Get some feedback.
You could start with your spouse or partner (and it could lead to good things—think of it as research), but try to find experienced writers who can give you honest, constructive help. I highly recommend Critique Circle if you want the convenience of online feedback. You can also search for local writers’ groups.

Rule #5: Write, write, and then write some more.
Love scenes are like anything else—practice makes you better and makes you more comfortable with them. The more detailed a love scene, the more skill it takes so things don’t sound too repetitious. Once you’ve written long enough, you’ll discover what your limits are. My love scenes, for instance, only splash in the shallows of eroticism, with just enough detail to get the point across and the heart racing. And that’s how I (and my characters) like it.

Now, don’t leave John and Marsha waiting anymore. Open that manuscript and finish that scene. You’ll be glad you did…and so will John and Marsha!

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