You’ve all heard those warnings in the assorted ED commercials:
In case of an erection lasting more than four hours, contact your physician.
Well here’s a word of advice for those wanting to write sexy love scenes:
In case of an erection lasting more than ten pages, contact your editor.
Okay, so I’m teasing you a bit. There is no magic rule about how long or short a love scene should be. Nor is there any rule about how many love scenes you should have in your work. But there are some very important things that you should keep in mind in order to write a good love scene.
The first thing to consider is your hero and heroine. There is nothing that will take you out of the story more quickly than being in the middle of a love scene and thinking, “There is no way he/she would do that!”
If your heroine is kick-ass, it’s unlikely she’s going to become shy and retiring while making love, unless of course there is a very good reason for it. For example, past abuse or rape or even being a virgin. But knowing this about the heroine is something that should come out well before that first pivotal scene of intimacy, otherwise it may pull the reader out of the story. In addition, knowing that the heroine has a traumatic past makes the first step toward involvement all the more important, so it will require a delicate balance to write a believable scene. Set it up first and be cautious in how much goes on during that first encounter.
If your heroine is just your regular kind of girl, it’s still important to keep some things in mind when writing the love scene, namely, the five senses. Put yourself in the shoes of the hero and heroine and ask yourself:
How does the other person’s skin feel?
What smells are in the air? Does your lover have a smell?
Is your lover silent or do they like talking or showing their satisfaction with a soft/loud cry?
Salty skin? Sweetness elsewhere?
What does your lover look like? Are they much bigger than you are?
You want the reader to experience each and every sensual experience. Involve them in what’s happening, but don’t make it clinical. It’s about more than Tab A goes into Part B.
Speaking of Tab A/Part B, can you use words like f**k, c**k or p***sy? That really depends where you intend to sell the work. For erotica such words are acceptable, but they may not be for a romance line. Ditto on bondage, domination, etc. Such edgy activities may be all right for more erotic stories, but not for a traditional romance.
As I mentioned before, there is no right length to the love scene. Your characters and the story will let you know when the length is right. So will the genre in which you are writing. In a sweet or inspirational romance, you will probably close the door and not show the love scene at all.
How many love scenes? Again, that depends on the nature of the story you are writing. In erotica the love scene(s) may constitute most of the work. Not so in a romance where the story arc should be more about the development of the relationship. It is only after the sexual tension has grown between the hero and heroine that it would be appropriate to offer up a love scene. Your first scenes may be just teases as the hero and heroine feel each other out, but then develop into a longer scene when the hero and heroine become emotionally closer.
Last but not least, even though we want the scene to be romantic and for everyone to be fulfilled, keep in mind the physical realities of making love. While we’d love a hero who can go on and on and on like the Energizer bunny, besides being dangerous, that four-hour erection is unrealistic. If a reader thinks the scene is unrealistic, you will pull them out of the story again and that’s not a good thing.
Creating a realistic relationship and intimacy between the hero and heroine is a sure-fire way to keep the reader involved in your story!
Thank you, Caridad. Remember, one lucky commenter will receive an ARC of Caridad’s novel, THE LOST, available July 26th. This book is the first in a paranormal series about a race of energy gatherers with all kinds of unusual properties, like shape-shifting and being able to heal or kill just with a touch. I can’t wait to read it. :)