28 June 2013
Once More, with Feeling
For me, love scenes are tough to write (gasp!) and sometimes tough to read. It seems there is, in some quarters, the feeling that erotic romance is basically stringing a succession of sex-scenes together. Yet it is, like any other genre, subject to rules. Yes, there is a heightened sexuality and frank language, but just as in any other kind of book there has to be a cohesive plot. Without one, you might as well be reading a bunch of those “true confession” letters in a men’s magazine.
And also each scene must serve a purpose—including the sex/love scenes. For me, when the love scenes are really hot you can almost bet your sweet bippy there is a new and thrilling shift in the relationship going along with it. Yes, the characters are having sex, slots and tabs as per usual, acrobatics, dominance etc. not essential (although sometimes welcome and even necessary, depending on the characters), but they’re also discovering something about themselves or their partner at the same time. While they’re doing that, the reader is learning about them too, and the heat is ramped up.
For me there has to be emotion, whether acknowledged or fought against, and relevance, or it’s just sex.
It could be the thrill of finally realizing the dream of having an encounter with the man the heroine’s been lusting after forever. Or perhaps the moment when a man looks at the person he’s having sex with and thinks, ‘Mine.’ Even the second when, scared spitless, one of the characters recognizes the very thing they didn’t want—love—has entered the equation. There are a bunch of different scenarios, instant attraction, resurgence of floundering love, angry sex, make-up sex, etc. that we use as plot devices, but the bottom line is if you don’t have emotion behind it and a reason for the sex, it just isn’t hot to me.
And let’s not forget there are scenes in books where the characters never even get undressed, much less get to actual sex, that can be hotter than the desert on a mid-summer day! The slow seduction scene that gets interrupted or is curtailed because one character knows the other isn’t ready is an example that comes to mind. Again I bet it's the heap of emotion behind it that makes the temperature rise.
So up the stakes, up the feelings behind the action, up the revelations and discoveries through the lovemaking and, in my estimation, the heat quotient rises too!