Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby……

Casablanca-considered one of the most romantic movies of all time

As a romance writer, writing love scenes is part of the job description. They are integral to what defines the romance genre, and the depiction of a loving, emotionally satisfying relationship. We all know love scenes serve an important function in a romance and aren’t there just for the heck of it or for mere titillation. They can be crucial in deepening the emotional connection between the hero and heroine, delving into character issues,  and developing the relationship further. As I have been working on my first ms and wrestled with writing my own love scenes, I’m going to come out and say it. Writing love scenes is tough. Not to mention totally weird and awkward. At least for me.

Some of you may remember from my Introductory Post that I started reading romances back in high school. As you can imagine, while I love reading the books, the sex scenes still made me squirm and made me a little embarassed. There was still an element of “What if people knew what I was reading??!!”  I often skipped the love scenes, or just skimmed it. The paranoia has lessed for me over the years, and I have come to like reading the love scenes, but now that I’m responsible for writing them, the awkwardness is back full force.  I had dabbled in fanfics and other things like that over the years, and while they sometimes included kissing scenes, I had never went all the way and wrote a full-fledged love scene. This is the first time I took the plunge.

But still I toughed it out and persevered. I wrote my first love scene last summer, and I am proud to report that I made it through the experience alive. It definitely wasn’t easy though-I  found it hard to “get in the mood” and “think sexy.”  It was not romantic or sexy at all. I was blushing the whole time and thinking “Oh my God, I can’t believe I’m really doing this. Seriously. Is this for real?”  Part of me couldn’t really process what I was writing. Not to mention, I had no objectivity or perspective, and couldn’t tell if it was even a GOOD sex scene.  Please don’t misunderstand. My feelings of awkwardness don’t stem from any sense of shame, embarssment, or anything like that. It’s more that for me, sex and making love is a very personal and private thing.  It almost feels wrong that I’m broadcasting someone else’s most intimate and private moments. (Yes, I realize these are fictional characters I’ve created. Try telling that to my crazy writer brain, lol)

Lifesavers

I have learned a few things after writing my first love scene. First,  complete silence and privacy is required. The idea of anyone in the same building as me while I’m writing, much less in the same room just freaks me out. Second, writing a couple having sex is surprisingly technical. There is a lot of coreography involved. There are a lot of body parts and positions to keep track of! The whole mechanics of writing my hero and heroine from foreplay to orgasm is exhasuting. Last, but not least, I have found a good glass of wine to be an indispensible part of the writing process whilst I’m tackling a love scene.  It was advice I got from Julie James and I am SO glad I took it, even if it meant I was getting my booze on at 3:30 on a Sunday afternoon. ;) I think it’s safe to say from now on, wine will be a prerequisite whenever I have to write love scenes in the future.

While I like a good love scene as much as the next girl, and admire authors who right them well, at the end of the day, for me, love scenes aren’t the reason I read and write romance. I read and write romance because I like stories about strong heros and heroines who overcome obstacles and earn the happy ever after. Who have great sex of course. The way I see it, I have a few kissing scenes to add into my WIP and probably two more full love scenes to write. Wish me luck!

Do you like the love scenes in romances, or do you tend to skip them? Any other tips to writing love scenes? Share your thoughts below!

17 thoughts on “Let’s Talk About Sex, Baby……

  1. I don’t mind them as long as my husband and boys leave me alone. The youngest one likes to sneak up on me and read what I write over my shoulder. I wear my headphones and put on some love songs and just write. Editing is a whole other issue.

    Great post Lisa!

    -amy

  2. I’m pretty unabashed in my enjoyment of love scenes. I like reading them, and I like writing them. I also agree with Amy on the music. I have some go-to tunes to put me in the mood when I’m ready to get some sexy on to the page.

  3. I don’t mind reading sex scenes, but I don’t like listening to them if I’m “reading” an audio book.

    And though I also enjoy sweet (kisses only) romances, there are times when I do want that peak beyond the bedroom door. But I don’t mind reading non-explicit love scenes. And there does need to be a reason for the scene, some character or relationship development or something.I want the emotional payoff more than the actual details I guess.

    • Hi Kelly!
      I agree with you totally that the scene must serve a purpose besides the hero and heroine actually just having sex/making love. It must move the story forward in some way.

      I’ve never read a romance via audiobook. I can imagine that could be a bit awkward too, lol.

      I’ve read a few “sweet” romances which were very good too. I know Nora wrote a few during her Silhouette days. And like you, I’m ok with not too explicit love scenes.

  4. I always like the emotion leading up to the actual sex scene I think that drives the whole atmosphere. I have to think about where the scene is going after the sex and what has it done for the characters as a whole.
    Then I need to think on the actual words. That’s where the editing hell comes in.
    Great post.

    • Hi Nancy! I’m in the editing and revising stage of my WIP and I shudder and dread the day I face having to deal with my love scenes. Again. lol So I feel your pain. ;)

      Thanks for the kind words about the post!

  5. Loved you post. I like writing loves scenes. Though I had one book where I was ready and my H/H weren’t, so it had to wait. Then again, I had one couple who was moving much to quickly, and I had to slow them down.

    • Hi Ella!
      That’s great that you like writing love scenes. :) And so true that it has to feel right for the characters. Darn pesky heros and heroines taking over and not doing what we want. ;) It does bring up good questions though. When is it right? How soon is too soon? And when does dragging out the tension, suspense, etc cross the line into being contrived and unrealistic?

      Thanks for commenting!

  6. I don’t mind love scenes, and in college and then the military, I enjoyed them. Now, I find them more intrusive…I’d rather skim over it and get the idea rather than hear how perfectly they fit together. However, on the other side of the coin, I’ve written a love scene in complete humor just because it came to me one day and sounded funny. I laughed my butt off writing it, but it worked through it. And yes, if I see too many love scenes in a book, it is a turn off…I’m thinking two or three depending on novel length is plenty.

    • Thanks for coming by and commenting dragontearsoflove! And thank you for your service. I also agree that it’s tough to balance the love scenes with the rest of the story.

  7. I agree that love scenes are an important aspect of the romance novel, though there has to be a good story there to capture my attention as well! You just can’t think of writing about sex as dirty or embarrassing (though it well can be!), just remember that this is the final step to which the hero and heroine completely connect. I think it needs to be emotional and so I definitely listen to love songs when I write one to “set the mood” — like a movie scene. Either way, I don’t want it to eclipse the point of the relationship. What makes a romance good for me, is the journey :)

  8. Great post, Lisa! I’ll be honest. It’s darn hard writing a love scene with a church choir staring over your shoulder, or your child, or your mother. LOL!!! I have had all three at some time or another.

    What’s worse, having something happen that takes you out of the scene when you’re on a roll. ;)

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