Love Scenes - Two for the work of one?

Posted by Barbara Monajem | 9:12 AM | 19 comments »

Usually, I try to write two stories at once. That way, if I get stuck in one story, I can hop to the other while the first one percolates at the back of my mind. At the moment, I'm writing a historical short story as well as a long paranormal. All was going reasonably well until this past week, when I came to a sudden and very abrupt halt. Why? Because I reached a love scene in both stories at exactly the same time.


For me, love scenes are the hardest to write, because along with the mechanical stuff -- tab Y in slot X, etc. -- there has to be character growth. The scene has to be meaningful in the development of the relationship between the hero and heroine, and also move the story forward without slowing down the action. (!) Not only that, this particular activity has to occur in a large proportion of romances these days. Not every story has a car chase or a gunfight, a ballroom scene or an abduction in a coach-and-four, but they all need love scenes. Sigh. My husband and I joked that maybe I should write the scene for one story, then switch the names and a few details and plug it into the other.

LOL. Nope, that would never do. So I worked my way through the scene in the historical, learning more about my characters in the process -- always a plus -- and also realized, to my great relief, that the last four chapters in the paranormal needed reorganizing anyway, so I could put off that love scene for a day or two. Whew.

Writers -- Do you find loves scenes harder to write? Easier? The same as the others? 

Readers -- Would you be just as happy with fewer love scenes, or is the romance genre handling them fine? Do authors succeed in making each one different, or do you find that a lot of love scenes seem "same old same old" to you?

(The picture, by the way, is of swans in Aquitaine, and has nothing to do with the post, except maybe that swans are romantic and so is love :))


  1. Tamara LeBlanc // February 21, 2011 at 10:40 AM  

    Love this topic Barbara!
    I for one, enjoy writing love scenes. For some reason, they come easy to me.
    Yes, it is tough to write the way Y dives into X sound and look different each time, but all in all, I don't stress over it. (LOL...Y DIVE into X, now that would be somethin' huh?)
    Anyhoo, in the romance world, sex is an intrigal part of the story, as you mentioned, so when I wrote Blessing in Disguise, I added one full love scene, and one partial to the relatively sweet contemporary. The sex helped further the relationship. It was there for a reason.
    But right now I'm working on a paranormal erotic, and of course, the entire premise of the book is based on sex! So getting a bunch of full and partial love scenes into this novel is much more difficult. And making those loves scenes count for something is even harder.
    The thing is, love scenes can't just be thrown in. There has to be method to the madness. There has to be meaning. And I'm glad you touched on that, because I, as a reader do not want to see Y and X going at it every three pages. Even if their positioning is creative, the act gets a bit tedious if there is no growth behind it (no pun intended)
    So, I'd rather read a book with one spectacular, meaningful love scene, than a story with 20 that are thrown in to reach a quota.
    I apologize for the novel I'm leaving as a comment:}
    Good luck with your WIP!!!
    Have a lovely, productive day,

  2. Judy // February 21, 2011 at 11:58 AM  

    Hi, Barbara! I have fun writing love scenes. It is so much more than writing about sex and, yes, you always find something out about your characters when you put them into this situation! Tamara, loved your comments... Thanks, Barbara! I, too, can work with more than one story in mind.

  3. Barbara Monajem // February 21, 2011 at 12:43 PM  

    Thanks for your novel-length comment, Tamara! I agree that one meaningful love scene is better. I think that's one reason I'm enjoying writing the Harlequin Undones, because although they have to be sexy stories, they're also short, so usually one love scene is enough. :)

  4. Barbara Monajem // February 21, 2011 at 12:45 PM  

    Judy -- how fun to come across someone else who writes more than one story at a time. I really enjoy going back and forth between them, and since they're different genres and time periods, I don't get the characters mixed up. :)

  5. Mary Ricksen // February 21, 2011 at 1:16 PM  

    Barbara, love scenes are truly my nemesis!
    I try to write from what I know, which probably is not enough!
    And I so agree that some scenes just make me skip over them. To write a love scene that people will actually read is a very daunting thing.
    Good luck to a wonderful author who is on her way to the top!
    Don't forget to wave down to us little guys, we love you!!

  6. Barbara Monajem // February 21, 2011 at 2:19 PM  

    LOL, Mary. Daunting is exactly the word for it!

  7. Mary Marvella // February 21, 2011 at 2:39 PM  

    Hey, Barbara! Gotta tell you I love writing love scenes because I tease my characters with desire and tension for so long I can't stop them from getting it on. By time my characters finally make love, I can't stop them. My critique partners insist it's time, too.

    The hero and heroine determine the kind of scene I write for them. So for me it isn't a problem. I am concerned with emotion and sensuality as I write.

    I don't really want bunches of sex scenes, because I feel characters must do without gratification for a while so the love scene couldn't be delayed another minute.

  8. Barbara Monajem // February 21, 2011 at 6:49 PM  

    LOL. MM, I can see you have fun tormenting your characters. That's something I've had to learn by practice, practice, practice.

  9. Mary Marvella // February 21, 2011 at 8:23 PM  

    Gotta make 'em really want it, need it!

  10. Joanne Stewart // February 22, 2011 at 2:17 PM  

    I hate writing love scenes. They are very difficult for me to write. Oh, I get the tab A into slot B part just fine. It's adding in everything, all the emotion and character growth, etc, that I find extremely difficult. Daunting is the perfect word for this. Glad to know I'm not the only one who finds them difficult!

  11. Joanne // February 22, 2011 at 7:11 PM  

    As you might remember, I agree with you on this topic. It's one of the reasons I thought to write a cozy romantic story instead.

  12. Mona Risk // February 23, 2011 at 6:58 AM  

    Barbara--I left a comment but it didn't take it. So here it is again. I Usually sweat over sex scenes. Before writing a love scene I stop and read several from hot books. After that the scene practically writes itself.

  13. Barbara Monajem // February 23, 2011 at 9:41 AM  

    Joanne, Joanne and Mona -- it's comforting to know I'm in the same boat as so many others!

  14. Pamela Varnado // February 23, 2011 at 12:47 PM  

    Writing a love scene normally comes easy to me. Probably because of my emotionally driven personality. Like you, I often use my love scenes as a way to show character growth. Doing so takes away the mechanical coldness of the act. It's a time for my characters to connect on a higher level. True feelings explode across the pages and pull the reader along on the sensual journey.

  15. Beth Trissel // February 23, 2011 at 7:40 PM  

    Excellent post, Barbara, loved your take on it. I'm getting into more of the sensual/sweet romance. That may change, but seems to be the direction I'm going.

  16. Scarlet Pumpernickel // February 23, 2011 at 9:14 PM  

    Barbara, you chosen my favorite subject to hate. I love to read love scenes, but I hate to write them. I love to write sexual tension and titalating little details, but when I get down to the nitty-gritty I get squeamish. I have no idea why, except that writing the love scene is such an intimate thing for my characters. It makes me feel almost like I'm peeking at their private time! LOL, does that even make sense? I hope it does. Thanks for the blog, you've let me know I'm not alone in my difficulty writing love scenes.

  17. Autumn Jordon // February 24, 2011 at 9:52 AM  

    Hi, Barbara. Great topic. I think you really need to be in the characters' heads to make the love scene great. It has to be more than the slot thing. One of your characters, or both, has to change emotionally because of the union.

  18. Nightingale // February 24, 2011 at 1:09 PM  

    Under the pen name Bianca Swan, I've been writing erotica, and I find writing the love scenes difficult in order to make them not the same old!

    I've read some of MM's love scenes and they are tease to temptation to fantastic.

  19. Mary Marvella // February 24, 2011 at 9:03 PM  

    Thanks you, Linda! (Blush)