The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published(2000)
A non fiction book by Julie Beard
The ABC's of Love Scenes
If you're an experienced romance reader, you know that some romances have love scenes and others do not. You won't find detailed intimacy in squeaky-clean Christian romances, for example. And while most historical romances show the hero and heroine making love at least once or twice, couples in the Silhouette Romance and Harlequin Romance lines always turn out the light before consummating their relationship. So when you sit down to write your novel the decision whether to include sex is entirely up to you.
Only you can decide whether or not you're comfortable writing about sex. You probably won't truly know, however, until you try it. I admit I squirmed and blushed when I wrote my first sex scene. Imagine how surprised I was to find that the act of making love did wonders for my characters. Writing about lovemaking forced me to really get inside my characters's shoes, though they weren't actually wearing any at that particular moment! If handled properly, sex will deepen not only the relationship of your characters, but your understanding of them as well.
If you decide to include lovemaking scenes, you want them to sizzle, not fizzle. To make that happen you need to employ a few age-old writing techniques. Show don't tell as much as possible. Instead of telling the reader how excited your characters are, show the physical evidence -- quickened heartbeats, perspiration, fast kisses, primal sounds. Let the readers see, hear, feel, taste and smell the evidence and they'll gladly go along for the ride.
Another golden-oldie writers' rule applies to sex scenes. If a scene doesn't move the story forward it should probably be cut. In other words, no gratuitous sex. A romance is not erotica. Your story must have a plot and characters that progress throughout the course of the book. Your love scenes will be gratuitous if the act of making love doesn't affect the plot or the characters or both. When two people make love, it usually changes how they feel about each other and even themselves. It might even alter the course of fate. If you have a string of sex scenes that don't progress your plot, chances are the reader will flip over those pages to get on with the story.
Another way to make sure your love scenes count is to be specific to your characters' personalities. Moving body parts won't do. You have to infuse the lovemaking with the idiosyncracies, hopes, desires, fears, and personalities of your hero and heroine. No two people will make love in exactly the same way. If you're true to your characters, your sex scenes will be unique to them, and therefore will add meaning to your romance.
As for language, you can be anatomically correct or use metaphors. Again, you decide. There are no rules when it comes to sex...or sex scenes. So follow your instincts, and good luck!
Julie Beard is the author of The Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published, My Fair Lord, The Maiden's Heart, and other romance novels.
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Used availability for Julie Beard's The Complete Idiot's Guide to Getting Your Romance Published
January 2000 : USA Paperback