Writing Love Scenes – Beyond the Mechanics

On Tuesday I blogged about writing sex scenes using Linda Howard’s 12 Steps to Intimacy. A side topic popped up in the comments about moving beyond the mechanics of sex. What makes each love scene different? How can we make sure they’re not the same scenes recycled? After all, sex is sex. Tab A goes in Slot B.

Not quite.

Without going into the Kama Sutra, there are all kinds of ways to make love but that’s not what this post is about. This post is about going beyond the mechanics.

It’s about the emotion.

Like I said in my last post, love scenes in a romance are about the journey of the characters. For me, when I write them, I’m always thinking about action/reaction. What is the internal reaction of the character caused by the action of making love? These characters weren’t born on page one. They had a life before their story started and all of that backstory, all of that living, will have an effect on the emotional aspect of their lovemaking.

Why is it important that your hero and heroine make love? Other than the fact that you’re writing a romance and it’s expected. Put that aside. Look at your characters. Why should your hero make love to your heroine? What will it do to him when he does? What foundation of his is shaken due to this act? What fundamental part of him will change because of this act?

Ask the same questions of your heroine. How will her life irrevocably change because she made love to the hero? What inhibitions (both internal and external) must she overcome in order to make love? What inhibitions (internal and external) did she not overcome by making love?

And most importantly, how did this scene change the story? How did it move the story forward? Because we all know that every scene, every sentence, every word MUST move the story forward. If you’re inserting a sex scene because it’s expected, then you’re not doing your job right. The love scenes should flow with the story just like every other scene. If it’s just plopped in there because you’re on page 100 and your characters haven’t made love yet, you will pull the reader out of the story and that’s the last thing you want to do.

So tell me, how do you make sure your love scenes are different?



7 thoughts on “Writing Love Scenes – Beyond the Mechanics

  1. Agreed. Emotions are the key and that is what will make each love scene you write different…because your characters are different…they’ve had different life experiences to make that moment unlike anyone elses. 🙂

  2. Emotion, emotion, emotion. I like to think of sex scenes as the time when life as they know it changes – even if a book starts with a one night stand (and 1 of mine does), life as the characters know it changes. And I try to make each scene – for one character or the other – a time when life as they know it changes.

  3. Sharon, you it the nail squarely on the head… Emotion is key and the lives the character’s lives…Just as sex is different for every human on this planet, it has to be different for every character because every character is (or better be) different.

  4. Have you ever thought about mixing it up (just for fun) and having one character from one book make love to one in another? It probably wouldn’t work because the chemistry would be all off! LOL

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