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April 16, 2008

Loving the Love Scene

My special guest today is Ashlyn Chase. She writes sparkling comedies and has had an unusual upbringing…she was kidnapped by gypsies as an infant and left on the doorstep of the Massachusetts home in which she grew up. Oh, wait! That’s what her older siblings told her. It seems that story telling runs in the family.

Her most recent release is Death by Delilah, the story of two Navy lovers. Can two Navy lovers, equal in resolve but not in rank, secretly live together off base, without discovery causing one of them to be transferred to the Middle East? Read Death by Delilah to find out!

Today Ashlyn is discussing a very important component of writing a romance – the love scene. Without further ado, here’s Ashlyn…

Erotic romance authors are often asked how they write hot love scenes. It isn’t easy! In fact, it’s one of the hardest things to write well. I happen to write erotic comedy but when it comes to sizzling sex, I’m deadly serious. I don’t write porn. I’ve been in those sleazy bookshops with the blacked out windows and bought a couple of their books to “see what I was missing.” Not much! Just some terribly written plotless stories with absolutely no romance by authors in need of an anatomy class.

Here are a few tips to writing a convincing love scene. First of all, try to be sure your characters aren’t as shallow as this: “I like your body, let’s have sex.” It’s great to have sexual attraction between the hero and heroine from the get-go, but to make a love or sex scene convincing, we need do a little better than that.

I like to have one of them do something special for the other to show they care. That usually happens in real life. Dinner and a movie is classic but classic can be cliché. As imaginative writers we can and should be inventive. Maybe he knows she likes puzzles so he pulls out a 1,000-piece puzzle and invites her over to put it together. That says a couple of things. One: I want to spend time with you—lots of time. And, two: I’m paying attention to your likes and dislikes—I’ll meet your needs.

Of course in an erotic romance, the couple won’t get beyond putting together the outer border before they wind up tangled in the sheets. In order for that to happen, especially in a short story, the writer often makes them familiar with each other beforehand from their workplace, mutual friends, or being stuck in a space capsule together for months. And it never hurts that they’ve been burning for each other too long as it is.

One of the hardest things for the erotic romance writer to do is make each encounter feel like it’s the best, most powerful, over-the-top sexual experience your characters have ever had. In order satisfy the avid erotic romance reader’s expectations, you have to get right into that character’s body and describe sensations that often defy description. You’ll find yourself typing words like: aching, moaning, clenching, whimpering, “Oh God, oh God!” pummeling, pounding, stiffening, exploding, convulsing, gasping, rasping “I can’t take anymore,” shuddering, fluttering, shivering, quivering, bucking, and… Well, you get the idea. The reader must be swept away, just like the character.

For the writer to put together a scene like that, and to make it different every time, may take a lot of thought and frequent ice water breaks. For a reader to consider it a successful scene, she must not be able to put the book down. Thus, it might take you all afternoon to write something the reader will devour in a couple of minutes.

Do you need to have a current love life to write erotic romance? No. I think it helps, but I know some single erotica writers who can make you want to wear oven mitts to turn the pages! I even know a virgin who won a contest with her love scene and subsequently published her story. But if writers have a regular bed partner, they can and should take advantage of it.

How? We must tune out the noise in our heads and concentrate on the moment. Yes, I’m including myself in this reminder. Hey, if you’ve been sleeping with the same individual for fifteen years, you can easily put yourself on automatic pilot. Sex is better experienced fully! Close your eyes so you don’t see the dust on the headboard and really feel the sensations going through your body. If you find yourself thinking about the Mac and Cheese in the fridge, or the sweater you need to hand wash for the next day, know that it will be there later, leave your head and get back inside your body. Feel every stroke and touch.

Let your partner(s) know you’re enjoying yourself. If the roommate or kids might hear you scream, stuff a pillow in your mouth and wheeze. I can’t tell you how many erotic romance authors refer to their significant other as their “research assistant.” Chances are your boyfriend or husband is happy to help and proud to do the honors—especially when you’re both having a blast. If, God forbid, sex becomes a chore you can spice it up with toys or videos. Open your mind. Even if something goes terribly wrong and you fall on the floor, have fun ruling it out.

In any case, I think the best way to write any romance is to read romance. To write hot romance, read hot romance. Make a list of words or phrases that turned you on and make them your own. The next time someone implies that writing romance is easy, dare them to write a two page love scene—preferably one that makes you drool, sweat and attack your boy toy.


  1. Rob Graham

    Oh yes. Trying to keep a love scene fresh is becoming one of the great challenges of my writing.

    I’m not sure that dinners and such are cliche, although they can be. A story I’m working on has the characters go on several dates together. I did make some of the dates a little different. The zoo for one. However each allowed the heroine to learn more about the hero and become more attracted to him.

    In another story the couple did go out for dinner. But the dinner was in a private room at a very private club. The entire meal was in silence which allowed me to help the reader concentrate on all the other sensations the woman felt.

    If you’ve got a god imagination you can play with the most mundane situation to make it erotic and romantic.

    From another single erotica writer. :wink:

  2. Rachael Blair

    This post came at the perfect time and made Oh SO MUCH sense!


  3. LaurenMurphy

    I’ll be the first one to tell you that the sex scene is the part that I can’t wait for. They are my favorite parts of the book and the hotter the better. However…writing them is another story. Yes I like to write them but that is by far one of the hardest parts for me to write (only surpassed by the ever illusive ending). I mean how many times can you use the words, heated, thrust, moan…you get the picture. I can express the feelings just fine but finding new and exciting words to do so every time presents me with a challenge. One that I love! ;)

  4. Jenyfer Matthews

    Sounds like you really enjoy your research, Ash :wink:

  5. julia

    ‘If you find yourself thinking about the Mac and Cheese in the fridge’ – LOL!! It’s funny to think that writing an erotic love scene can be anything other than amazing, but I think it ranks up there with actors trying to get into the mood for a hot scene, having to remember to hit their marks, tune out the lights and crew and disappear into the moment.

  6. Estella

    Great post!

  7. Shelley Munro

    I have to agree. Writing love scenes is difficult. Word choice is everything – too flowery and the work drifts into purple. Too blunt and it may hit the mark, drifting into porn. It’s certainly a balancing act, and sometimes it takes me days to write a scene. Even then I’ll go back and need to add more layers and hopefully take it into sizzling territory.

  8. Ashlyn Chase

    Thanks for you comments everyone! I’m glad you enjoyed my post.

    Keep burning up those pages! :lol:

  9. Janet H

    I so love the love scenes. Erotic Romance Authors are the BEST!

  10. Jennifer McKenzie

    All I can say is Sex Toy Stores. LOL.

  11. Ericka Scott

    I love reading and writing love scenes…it’s like falling in love all over again!


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