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Wet Noodle Posse | Blog

Thursday, February 26, 2009

Three Tips for a Sizzling Love Scene by Karen Anders

We're delighted to have Blaze author Karen Anders with us today. Karen and I were long-time critique partners (still are, sometimes) and I vouch for the fact that she can make a Love Scene Sizzle! Karen's TENTH Blaze will be on book shelves March 1. Up Close and Dangerously Sexy receives a Harlequin Series Spotlight for March, in honor of Harlequin's Diamond Anniversary. Listen to this lady. She knows what she's talking about! Diane

Use the five senses
Storytelling involves description and it’s an integral part. If we do it well, the reader can place themselves right there in the story: “The surging waves warred with the blackness of the ruby-smudged twilight.” Or simply, “fire-engine red.” But descriptions are only part of the story. Immerse your reader into the story by using the five senses (touch, sound, taste, smell, as well as sight) in your fiction, your story will come alive for the reader.

Don’t Make it About Body Parts
Sex is a physical act, but people with emotions, moods, and thoughts are involved. Where he puts his hand and where she puts her lips are important as it gives the reader an intimate view into the couple’s life. But, when writing love scenes, try to keep the emphasis on the relationship and the characters. The characters should go into the love scene in a vulnerable state. They’re risking their heart here and it should be emotional. They may think it’s only sex, but we as authors and readers know that it’s so much more. Use the conflict that you’ve built to generate doubts so that your characters have a richer love scene. Your characters will seem more human if they worry about taking that step or if they take that step too lightly. Show how they feel without just relying on the obvious physical signs, because it's not just their bodies that are involved.

Sex is Part of the Plot
Even thought your characters get together because all romance characters get together, you need to use that scene to further your plot. Something can be discovered during it. The scene can show a character something that’s important to the story. Make it meaningful and not gratuitous because that’s part of the genre formula. Before writing a love scene, ask yourself what changes in the story that’s crucial to the plot.

I’d like to thank the fabulous Diane Gaston and the rest of the posse for having me.

Now it's your turn. What do you think makes a love scene sizzle? What POV do you like better in a love scene--hero or heroine?
Up Close and Dangerously Sexy, Book #1, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, Blaze, 3/09
"Surf's Up" in the Endless Summer Anthology w/ Julie Kenner & Jill Monroe, Blaze, 7/09
Dangerous Curves, Blaze, Book #2, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, 10/09
Wanted (wt), Blaze, Book #3, Undercover Lovers Miniseries, 4/10 (New Launch Now!)

Visit as part of their 60th Anniversary gift to you. Choose from a variety of great series romance stories that are absolutely FREE to download!

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At 9:51 AM, Blogger Trish Milburn said...

Hi, Karen. Thanks for being with us today. And thanks for the tips.

BTW, I really like the recent redesign of the Blaze covers.

At 10:08 AM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

I think you have to be in the POV character's head, really give the reader the feeling of being there.

At 11:57 AM, Blogger Laurel Hawkes said...

Spot on! I found I want both POVs, most particularly when they make a discovery about themselves in relation to the other person, intertwining them on every level.

At 11:59 AM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

Wow, Karen, great advice! And TEN blazes! Wow!

Great reminder to use the sex scene to further the plot and not just to throw it in there.

Do you use much dialogue in any of your sex scenes?

Congratulations on the Spotlight for March!!! I will definitely need to grab some of your books to read! Thanks for coming to the WNP!

At 12:00 PM, Blogger Theresa Ragan said...

I agree with ladyhawk...I enjoy both POV's but if I had to pick just one it would probably by the hero's POV...not sure why. I'll have to think about that some more.

At 12:01 PM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Hi everyone - I personally like both POVs, too. I like to see how making love affects both characters.

So glad to be here with my always fabulous and sometime critique partner Diane!


At 12:08 PM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Theresa -

I don't use a lot of diaglogue during the scene. I sometimes like to pepper in quips and oh my gods, though.

At 12:09 PM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Hi Trish -

Thanks for having me.

At 3:09 PM, Blogger Diane Gaston said...

Using two POVs in a love scene is tricky. You have to kinda switch in the middle and that can be jarring. Sometimes I do one love scene in his POV and the next one in hers.

I want to know what the characters are thinking/feeling and how the love scene changes things in some way.

At 3:12 PM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Diane - I agree. That's why I use only one POV, but I would like two. But, as you said, it's too jarring.

At 3:59 PM, Blogger Norah Wilson said...

Great tips, Karen!

I agree the sex scene has to play out in one POV, but there's no saying the sequel can't be in the other POV in the immediate aftermath. ,-) That's almost as good as two POVs, without the potentially jarring mid-scene switch.

I love writing love scenes, but man, they're hard. So much turns on them. You've got to get the emotional pitch just right.

At 4:13 PM, Blogger Laurel Hawkes said...

The way I've seen it done from both POVs (that seems to work) is from say the hero's during and then a reflection from the heroine. I've also seen the switch back and forth used to change the level of intensity.

At 11:47 PM, Blogger Mo H said...

Interesting question, Karen. I think the POV preference depends. Am I right in thinking scenes tend to be hotter in the hero POV and more emotional in the heroines?

At 7:44 AM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Norah - Yes, I think that working out POV that way does work. I've done it myself.


At 7:46 AM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Ladyhawk - I'm all for intensity in a love scene. For me, it's not right until I get that intensity right. And, as Norah said, they're hard (no pun intended).

At 7:48 AM, Blogger Karen Alarie said...

Mo - To a certain extent, but the love scene does have to impact the hero emotionally/internally as well. It has to somehow play on whatever you decide his fear is. Good observation!


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