That's right, I'm writing my very first love scene today. Yes, I've written two novels with romantic subplots before, and while there is (hopefully) a lot of sexual tension and some 'hot' moments, the relationship doesn't progress all the way to the bedroom (though if I ever write the rest of the books plotted for the series, they will get there.) I also wrote a short story last year that included a heavy hand of romance, but I copped out and (if you will humor me by accepting a film-technique analogy) panned out at the bedroom scene.
This WIP is different. I knew, almost from the get-go, that my main characters would end up rumpling the sheets at some point in the book. I started with an outline that I've mostly stuck to, so this scene isn't a surprise, but that doesn't mean I havn't been nervous as it approached. This is something new, something I've never tried to write before. Sure, I write new things all the time, but this is sex--guess you're always nervous when it comes to the first time, even in writing.
As I'm writing, what I'm finding is that love scenes are very similar to fight scenes. No, I'm not saying I have a violent ass-kicking-during-sex kind of scene (no bdsm here) but that the writing techniques I'm focusing on are similar.
In fight scenes I pay particular attention to cause and effect so characters don't react to things before they happen--this is important always, but can be especially confusing (and easy to fall into) during the fast pacing of a fight scene, the same is true for love scenes. Speaking of pacing, moderating the pace so it peaks at exactly the point intended is another similarity. Also there is the 'hand check'. You know, "where are everyone's hands (and other body parts) and when?" Just like your heroine can't knee the bad guy if her back is currently to him, she can't be groping anything interesting if her hands were both in his hair last time the reader 'saw' them. Then there is the trick of inspiring emotion in the reader. Of course, where a fight scene usually aims to cause the heart to race out of fear and adrenaline spikes, the love scene intends to portray other emotions.
I know what I enjoy reading (and what gets me skimming pages looking for the end of the scene) So, now the trick is to see what needs to be on the page to inspire what I desire in my reader. I enjoy a delicate touch when I'm reading love scenes. Words that evoke images, but don't shove them down my throat. The kind of scene that makes the reader grin, a grin that unconsciously spreads across his/her face without her knowledge, growing wider as the scene continues. The kind so layered with tension, that leading up to it, the reader is down right giddy because she/he has been waiting for this moment.
That is what I want to write. Now, if I've accomplished it, I won't know for a while. (at least until I reread it with fresh eyes, but truely not until beta readers see it.)
Those of you who are writers, any tips you can share about love scenes? What techniques do you find yourself focusing on?
Those of you who are readers (which probably covers everyone here) what do you like in a love scene? What was the best love scene you read recently?
On another, unrelated to craft, but interesting, note about this scene. I do a lot of my writing in the break room at lunch. Working on this scene this afternoon was an...unusually experience. I'm just hoping I didn't grin or blush so much people wondered what in the world I was doing. Lunchbreak writing sessions do add up though, so they will just have to wonder. I'm happy to announce I already hit my goal for the week, so anything else I write in the next few days is bonus. You bet that makes me happy (tiny goal and all, watch me feel accomplished.)
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