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Tips For Writing Love Scenes By Dani Collins

After One Bite Leads To Another released in print, I'm busy editing Book 2 in the series One Bite For The Unborn.

 So please welcome author Dani Collins with her tips for writing Love Scenes. This is Part 1. Part 2 of Crafting Love Scene tips will be on Revisions & Editions on 11th June. Check R&E for more tips on 11th June!




Tips For Writing Love Scenes Part 1
By Dani Collins

I’m a tools-not-rules type of writer. I love reading craft books and articles, and I’m always willing to try a new technique, but I’m also really protective of my process. I don’t deconstruct it for fear I’ll convince myself I’m doing something ‘wrong’ and the whole house of cards will fall apart.

So, when I’m asked to write a craft article, I often go to the business side and offer tips on blog tours and the like. Alternately, I look at the agony and ecstasy of publishing and offer strategies for finding more ecstasy, less agony. I feel confident offering that sort of advice since I’ve made a bit of a study of it.

Today I thought I’d tackle a ‘real’ topic: love scenes.

I knew I was decent at writing love scenes long before I sold. On those rare occasions when I got more than a form rejection letter, and in my contest feedback, I often received praise on my sexual tension and love scenes.

I know some struggle with love scenes without putting any words on the page. Are you one of those authors who freeze up because your mom might read it? (Fun fact: my son took one of my books to school for Silent Reading. He was in Grade Nine and I asked him if he wanted me to tell him which pages to skip. He said no, but a few weeks later he said, “I should have asked you which pages to skip.”

I wish I knew how to coach you past worrying what people will think of you. I won’t say I love talking about sex in other venues. It annoys me, actually, when people think that my writing sexy books gives them a right to ask about my sex life. So worrying what people will think is a genuine concern, but for me, the bottom line is, I prefer the hotter side when I read so when I write, I write what I would like to read. So:

1) Write what you like to read

We’ve all heard this in relation to writing the story, but it’s the crux of crafting a good love scene as well. As with the rest of the book, the author has to write authentically. If you don’t like what you’re writing, if you’re hesitating to put those words on the page, that will come across to the reader. Sweet done well is far superior to hot done poorly.

2) Treat a love scene like every other scene in your book

This is the most important thing to remember about love scenes: they have to advance the story. In a romance, you’re advancing the relationship narrative, showing the characters growing closer, letting down their guard, creating a bond between them that will be tested afterward by other pressures.

I should point out here that erotic romance doesn’t do this in the same way. In my humble opinion, erotic romance is about pushing past sexual inhibition as well as developing a love relationship. So those graphic love scenes might down play emotional intimacy in favor of the developing sexual intimacy.

3) Intimacy

Let’s look a little closer at the difference between sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy and how they are linked. Did you ever see Monty Python’s The Meaning Of Life? John Cleese is teaching his class of schoolboys about sex and asks how they might arouse a woman. One suggests rubbing the clitoris. “How about a kiss, boy?” is John Cleese’s response. “Before we stampede toward the clitoris?”

Jumping into intimate touches or describing risqué sex acts can be exciting for the reader, but it doesn’t create emotional intimacy unless you put the character’s emotions on the page. How does having sex endanger them emotionally? What part of their soul do they reveal during the sex act? (Insecurities, backstory, fears, motives.) How do these characters feel vulnerable before, during, or after? Do they overcome that through this experience? If not, why not? Why are they having sex at all? What are their expectations for afterward and does the sex change their mindset?

Sexual intimacy can create emotional intimacy, but only if the characters see it that way. Which is a reminder to:

4) Keep them in character

Again, treat this scene like every other. If your hero is a dominant alpha, you can show him letting the heroine take the lead, but set it up so it makes sense. Give the reader that line or two of thought or dialogue that tells us why he’s acting out of character. (eg. He’s excited that she is making advances for the first time, or he respects that she needs to move at her own pace, not his.) Which leads into:

5) Consensual!!

Like using condoms, some authors find putting consent on the page cumbersome. Handled wrong, it can definitely pull the reader from the story and kill the mood for everyone. Here’s a snippet from The Marriage He Must Keep, coming out next year. They’re married and the hero is letting his rough edges show:

He manacled her wrists in one hand and used his free one to take a handful of her hair, dragging her head back. Rather than kiss her, though, he set his teeth against her neck, not hurting, just letting her know he could return her injury and then some if he wanted to. He had all the power here.

She struggled with more determination, but only wound up rubbing herself where he was hardening. Her breasts began to ache from the friction against his hard chest. The strap of her gown fell off her shoulder and he opened his mouth on her bared skin.

How could this be turning her on?

“This is kinky,” she accused. She might have lived a sheltered life, but she read. She surfed. She knew a little about the games couples played. “Don’t we need a safe word if you’re going to overpower me?”

“Or you could just tell me to let you go,” he said with a silent laugh, releasing her hair to push the other strap of her gown down, baring the cup of her bra. He didn’t lift his gaze from the poke of her nipple against the blue lace. “Are you going to?” His voice was gruff and hungry.

That’s all it takes: a little pause where the hero checks in, reassures her he’s only playing and makes sure she’s willing to continue.

 
Award winning author Dani Collins wrote for twenty-five years before selling to Harlequin Mills & Boon in May of 2012. Since then, she’s turned in more than a dozen titles to Harlequin Presents, two erotic romances to HarlequinE and four sexy, small-town novellas to Tule’s Montana Born. She has even found homes for some of her previously rejected manuscripts, including indie-publishing her single title romantic comedy, Hustled To The Altar and signing with a small press for her medieval fantasy, The Healer.

Dani doesn’t have any hobbies. She’s too busy writing. Her current releases include, Seduced Into The Greek’s World, a June print and ebook from Harlequin Presents and His Blushing Bride from Montana Born, an ebook that can be found on most major platforms.

Stay current with Dani’s new releases by joining her newsletter or visiting her here:




 Dani Collins latest release:

Sebastian (Bastian) is a smart, sexy, doctorate student who shows up on Piper’s parents’
porch looking like a drifter. Hes recently been robbed and is only in town for his sisters wedding. Piper can see he’s a player from a mile off, is instantly attracted, but doesnt think hed be interested in her. She carries some baggage associated with her ex and the birthmark on her face and is still a virgin because of it. Once she gets to know him, however, she thinks he might be able to show her around the sexual block. He does, they do laps, then its time for him to leave and that part doesnt go so well for either of them.  
His Blushing Bride is my fourth novella for Montana Born. All the books are connected but can be read as stand-alones

Thanks for having me here today!
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24 comments:

  1. Thank you both. This is a lovely explanation/expose about why some sex/romance in books is such an epic fail.

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    1. Hi EC. Thanks for stopping by! Sometimes it seems really gratuitous, doesn't it? I've heard other authors talk about being told to add a sex scene where it doesn't feel right for the story. Never been my problem, probably because I write hot in the first place, lol!

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  2. Great post, Dani. Very well explained and demonstrated through your excerpt.

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    1. Thanks Kelly! I realized after the fact that I should have found an excerpt from a current release, but I was working on that story when I wrote this blog so the snippet was right there. I'll have to write a How To post on marketing now with a tip: Sell the book that's available. :)

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  3. Congrats, Dani! Fantastic tips! It's so true we have to keep them in character for a love scene and the scene has to add to the story and characters' arcs (unless it's erotica).

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    1. Hi Cherie! Thanks.
      I wrote two erotic romances and they were so hard (pun not intended!!) It really is a different balance and approach, especially because they so often have role play, which really throws characterization right out the window!

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  4. Super info on the nitty-gritty of writing good sex scenes. The ones that are designed purely to titillate readers without furthering the plot in any way may be hot in some ways, but they leave me cold, as far as the quality of the story goes.

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    1. Hi Susan, thanks for commenting. See my remark above about some authors being told to add them. I so disagree with that and it's so hard for the author to maintain sexual tension if they've gone too far too early. Ironic that sometimes in an effort to please readers by adding these love scenes, they actually alienate them, huh?

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  5. It's nice to meet Dani. Appreciate her insight about remaining consistent.throughout a book. Thanks for hosting, Kelly!

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    1. Hi Karen, nice to meet you! I'm glad this was helpful to you. What are you writing? (And thank you to Kelly from me, too!)

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  6. Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dani. Best of luck with your latest release.

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    1. Thanks Armchair Squid- great online persona! lol

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  7. Great tips! I giggled a bit at the story about your son, too :)

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    1. He's such a sport. He has more than once assured me that it's a really good book. I take that as a huge compliment since both my kids are big readers (Harry Potter/Hunger Games etc.) Oh, and if you're wondering which of my books it was, it was Hustled To The Altar :)

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  8. Sweet done well is far superior to hot done poorly. How right you are! I very much enjoyed meeting you Dani.

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    1. Thanks Barbara. I had the pleasure of listening to an excerpt from Winnie Griggs at the RT Convention in Dallas. I was blown away at how much longing she conveyed in a few sentences over a cut on a finger. It was beautiful!

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  9. Wonderful tips. It is important to think of character and plot advancement as well as consistency.

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    1. Hi Medeia, thanks for coming by! And double-thanks for agreeing with me. I think we're going to be friends ;)

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  10. These are really good tips for romance writers. Your son's comments were funny!

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  11. Awesome thoughts. I worry too about my family reading what I've written. Some days I wonder if I should just use a pseudonym and deny I've written anything in person. LOL.

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  12. What a sweet cover!

    I really enjoyed hearing from Dani. I like that she addressed the real concern of having a mom/dad/child etc. read a romantic or erotic scene. I think the advice she gave is great and helps point out the reasons for those scenes. Wishing Dani all the best!
    ~Jess

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  13. Dani, this was a great craft post.

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