After reading romance novels of varying types over the last 25 years, I’ve come across all types of love scenes. I would even venture to say that there is no perfect type or formula you can use to write a love scene. Personal preference dictates the type of romance you love best. The industry these days has everything from sweet (no love scenes) to behind closed doors (implied but not written) to written but “tame” to written explicitly to erotica which can address all sorts of predilections. And even more in between.
So my question–what makes a good love scene?–is just that. It’s a question to readers and authors of romance alike. What makes a good love scene for you?
When I started adding love scenes to my books, I decided to do a little research. I went back to some of my favorite authors and tried to figure out what it was about their loves scenes that made them my favorite authors. What I came to realize was that they didn’t have a formula, but they did incorporate certain elements that made things work so well.
Build the Heat
This one is probably obvious, but harder to pull off than you’d think. I had a roommate in college who was drop-dead gorgeous and guys would just throw themselves at her – without any idea of who she was as a person initially. Watching her own frustration with that made me realize that I want to see relationships where the heat is not only about the initial attraction, but also a growth of that attraction–physically, mentally, and relationally.
Build the Connection
Unless the story starts out with the couple already in some kind of relationship (friends, previous lovers), I prefer to see their relationship build. When they finally make love I prefer there to be a connection already started – even if it’s just in the beginning phases. They’ve noticed each other – not just physically but things about their personalities. They like each other as people, even if they don’t admit it yet.
It’s my opinion that building the connection and the heat are even better when they work in tandem together. And I’ve seen few do that better than Lucy Monroe. Read one of her books looking for that specifically, and you’ll see what I mean.
Include Something “Surprising”
I like it when some aspect about making love is surprising to one or both of them. There are multiple surprises a writer could incorporate. There’s the often used virgin surprise – which I usually feel is better when he’s also surprised at how much he likes the thought of being her first. There are smaller surprises. He’s surprised he falls asleep in her arms. She’s surprised she felt something deeper. And so on.
Make The Scene “Fit” the Couple
I find it to be a real turn off when the scene doesn’t make sense to who they are as people. For example, let’s say she’s been established as shy and timid. The first time they make love if she’s immediately a wild-cat in bed, the writer’s lost me. I get that they want to establish that she’s so comfortable with the male lead that she’ll be herself. But having that grow and develop over several love scenes works better, in my opinion.
As I mentioned, the above observations are what I’ve noticed I like as reader. Since this is what I prefer to read, it is also what I try to incorporate when I write. My success in that is TBD. These are mine. What are yours? Think about some of your favorite romance writers and what makes their love scenes so compelling. I’d love to hear your thoughts!