How Hot Do You Like It? (Writing Love Scenes)

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It’s no secret that romance has gotten hotter over the years. It’s anyone’s guess whether that’s due to increasing open-mindedness among readers or publishers’ recognition that people actually want to read the stuff. But I admit my favorite books are those that leave nothing to the imagination. Karen Moning, Jeaniene Frost, Larissa Ione and Kresley Cole write steaming love scenes that never fail to bring a blush to my cheeks. When I read a book I become emotionally invested in the characters, and I want to witness every moment of them falling in love. So what better than a love scene, the ultimate expression of love and desire?

Today I thought I’d share just a few tips on writing hot love scenes that I’ve picked up throughout the last few years:

  • Nix the Purple Prose

“He stroked the hot center of her budding flower, which opened to him like…”

Yeah, once upon a time euphemisms were quite common in love scenes. Not so much in demand anymore. Why not just tell it like it is? There’s no shame in the human body or in the act of lovemaking, and most (though not all) of us want to hear about it straight-up.

  • No Formulaic Writing

Let your love scene naturally evolve from the characters’ journey. Love scenes shouldn’t be about fitting body parts together. It’s the emotion involved in the act of lovemaking that readers really want to read about. So play up that part of it. What are the characters feeling while they’re making love?

  • Don’t Be Afraid to Explore

There’s nothing wrong with pushing boundaries. A lot of people read romance in order to safely explore certain concepts they might not be so comfortable trying in real life. So if it makes sense for your characters, why not push some boundaries? BDSM and menage are particularly popular right now.

So tell me, how hot do you like your love scenes? Do you have a favorite author who does them particularly well? If so, what is it that makes them oh so memorable?

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6 thoughts on “How Hot Do You Like It? (Writing Love Scenes)

    Kate Tate said:
    December 3, 2010 at 7:50 am

    I like ’em hot, BUT with the caveat that I don’t like them to be the sole drive to the story. I like them hot with EMOTION…a good balance/mix, not just what, but how it feels both physically and emotionally. I also don’t like it vulgar. That’s not to say use the vague prose, but you don’t have to make it sound like pigs in mud, either (unless, of course the couple happens to be rolling in mud). Animalistic sex has its place, too, but I don’t think the latest slang has to be the only thing in the sex scene. On top of all that, the personality of the character whose head we are in at the time must be considered. A young gritty soldier isn’t likely to think “screw” if he means something else. And a prim/proper young lady isn’t likely to think something else when she means making love. The same goes for descriptions of body parts. Personally, I have begun to really like the way Jill Shalvis approaches things, just to name one.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      December 3, 2010 at 8:58 am

      Great point, Kate. It’s important to stay in the head of your viewpoint character. Otherwise you’re just writing for titillation, which is fine in and of itself, but that’s not why people read romance. We read to get emotionally involved in our characters’ journey.

    Zrinka Jelic said:
    December 3, 2010 at 10:38 am

    For me love scenes are hardest to write. I mean, it takes one wrong word to turn a good romance into a cheep porn. I don’t like vulgar words unles it’s erotica I’m reading. To get into the feeling, I think the tension should start to build early on. Although it does happen in real life, but I can’t see them meeting and jumping in bed in a space of a few hours, or even days or weeks for that matter. Also, you must consider the period the book takes place and social status of the characters. If they are simple people peasants, or the higher classes. I think they would describe their experience differently. If the book is set in the future or in the past. It all plays important role. I’m really bad with names and can’t remember the author but the book is “Love slave” and I thought she described her love scenes so well and in not so many words.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      December 3, 2010 at 12:18 pm

      I agree love scenes can be hard to write. I tend to be a linear writer, so my story builds slowly and by the time I get to the love scene, I’m completely invested in my characters and their emotions. That makes things easier for me to write the love scenes. For those who jump around as they write, I just don’t know how they do it. 🙂

    Julia Rachel Barrett said:
    December 3, 2010 at 2:49 pm

    Love this post. Simple and clear. I let my characters tell the story and do the deeds. I’m along for the ride.

      Rosalie Lario responded:
      December 3, 2010 at 5:32 pm

      Thanks, Julia. I agree. The best writing experience is when my characters take over and I become the proverbial fly on the wall. 🙂

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