Love is in the air…
by Annette McCleave on February 10th, 2009

I used to struggle writing love scenes. Not because I was shy about describing what was going on, but because of the very reason Jessa mentioned in her post yesterday—as a reader, I often skipped them. I felt they were necessary to show the developing depth of the relationship, but weren’t really critical to the plot.

Oh dear. I write love stories. How can a love scene not be critical to the plot of a love story?


So, I took a step back, thinking. I discovered I plotted love scenes as events that HAD to happen, instead of just letting the relationship run its own course. I orchestrated them, instead of letting the characters do whatever felt right. And by thinking that way, I had turned a very special and potentially defining moment into WORK.


So, I relaxed. I stopped planning the love scenes. Strangely, even when I consciously gave myself permission to write a story with no love scene at all, love scenes popped up. Why? Because they were the natural evolution of the relationship. I find the love scenes I pen now are both easier to write and more in tune with the characters’ personalities. They’re now tightly connected to the characters’ story arc and, therefore, an integral part of the plot. :smile:

I know there are more people than just Jessa and I who skip love scenes. Question: As a reader, do you find that there are more great love scenes written today than, say, ten years ago? Do today’s romance novels speak more to the true power of love, or less?

10 comments to “Love is in the air…”

  1. 1

    I think it all depends on the author. Some writers (like readers) are drawn to a soul-mate (true power of love) attraction between their characters, while some prefer a more random, spontaneous, purely sexual type encounter. At least at first.

    As a reader, I prefer a strong undercurrent of emotion (love, even if the characters don’t realize it yet!) to run through my love scenes.

  2. 2

    I agree with Kim, I think it depends on the author. However, I have noticed that love scenes are not as closeted. When I was younger, the love scenes (in books I read) were given a light touch. While still true now, there appear to be more authors that aren’t afraid to use graphic descriptions.

    There is more exploration going on, which I enjoy greatly as a reader. I was having a discussion with myself about “romantica” a few weeks ago, and how some very intimate love scenes are also quite explicit. Despite this, the stories don’t skimp on the love connection. My favorite books, authors, and scenes are those that, while sizzling hot, maintain the intimate love connection of the characters.

  3. 3

    Kim, I usually prefer to have a deep thread of emotion running through the love scene, too. I did write one story, though, where a ’sexual encounter’ came first. It just seemed right for the characters.

  4. 4

    Holly, you’re right about the increased explicitness of modern books, and like you, I find them totally excellent–as long as the intimacy happens, too, and the sex isn’t just filler. I definitely need that meaningful connection between the characters.

  5. 5

    I like when the love scenes FEEL right.
    The sexual undercurrent & attration have to flow between the characters. As for the explicitness? Bring it on, baby ;)

    Mindy :)

  6. 6

    I definitely think that emotional connection — which is where the danger is — is what stops me from skimming.

  7. 7

    What I appreciate is an author who writes an intimate scene without skimping, but who still leaves me wanting more. Too much too soon leaves me feeling flat. I need to leave the scene with a little bit of curiosity and eagerness for the next step. A bit of lingering sexual tension is key, in my opinion.

  8. 8

    I agree that a well written love scene should have emotion. I think there more opportunities for the characters to explore their emotions in romances written today.

  9. 9

    I agree, it’s really about the emotions and the buildup beforehand. Make me really want these two people together, and I’ll read every word of that love scene, whether explicit or sweet.

  10. 10

    Personally, I find there are a lot more “sex” scenes than “love” scenes in books. I find I end up skimming scenes very often because the sex — is gratuitous and not important to the story. (*cough* Laurell K. Hamilton, anyone?)

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