January 21, 2011

Oooh…That’s Not Sexy

I know the very funny Flo Nicholl has been doing a series of great posts on M&B UK about writing, and one of the topics she hit on was…love scenes. And now I’m going to talk love scenes.

So, hide yo kids and hide yo husbands.

Love scenes if present, should be a big part of the book. At least that’s my opinion. And by that I don’t mean they should take up a lot of pages, but that they need to mean something. They need to push the relationship forward, push it backward, reveal things about character, about conflict. It should be anything but just there to be there because it’s page one hundred and it’s about time these two crazy kids got it on.

Every scene in a book needs to accomplish something, and a love scene is no different. In an upcoming release I have a heroine with bad physical scars and the way she makes love to the hero, the fact that she does at all, says something about her character, about how she feels about him. And the way he responds to her and her physical imperfections says something about him, and what she means to him.

That’s kind of an obvious, no fair one because there was a physical manifestation of conflict dealt with partly in a physical way.

But really, it is easy to write a love scene that’s similar to what you’ve read in the line/genre you’re aiming for (guilty!) without really thinking of what YOUR characters would really be doing in that bedroom. Or beach. Or dining room. Whatever.

Does your heroine want the lights off? Or on? Why? What position? (and you might laugh, or alternately cringe, but for me that can say a lot about the scene too…if you have a power struggle, or a hero intent on distancing himself then you might find ways to convey that by…switching things up. πŸ˜‰ )

Now we get to the part that inspired the title. *takes deep breath* Sometimes more description…not better. Sometimes very much worse. And this is my opinion, again, other people have different preferences, but I think there’s a point where something becomes over described (and I don’t write real gauzy love scenes, mine are pretty well…there…) and byoverdescribed mean…the hero’s armpit hair or something…(I’ve seen this). Or several paragraphs devoted to capturing each and every detail of a certain member of his body. My mind can fill in the blanks, thanks. πŸ˜‰

Because when it gets like that, it all becomes very tab A into slot B, and as I mentioned at the top…it really needs to be about more than that.

(Erotica, I’ll grant, has a different set of rules. I think the over share applies there too though.)

So those are some of my thoughts. Have any of your own?

And…look what I got in the mail today! I don’t have a pic on my computer so I actually took a pic of the book. πŸ™‚ It’s the North American cover for The Inherited Bride coming to the US in May 2011 as Presents Extra! (this cover? Totally sexy. OMgsh)


Comments

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  1. Hi Maisey, nice to meet you, I’m new to your blog and thought I’d say hi. There’s a very interesting thread on Harlequin, http://community.eharlequin.com/forums/simply-series/how-much-sex-too-much-and-how-little-too-little-part-i#new about the amount of sex in a story. I think everyone agrees on there it obviously depends on the line and on the characters themselves and what they want. Most people say there can be too much, mainly if it’s kind of stuck in (pardon the pun) rather than relating to a development in the story. Anyway, interesting post. I’m targeting Blaze at the moment so there’s quite a lot of sex πŸ™‚ but I’m trying to ensure every get-together furthers the plots somehow.

  2. Hi Serenity, welcome. πŸ™‚

    I had lurked on that convo, but since everyone was saying what I would say…LOL.

    Regarding Blaze, yeah, that’s a VERY sexy line. And oftentimes the plot has a sexual hook so the scenes can kind of play on that, and it all works together. I think the big thing is that it’s personal to the characters, and not just something you could copy and paste out of one book and put in the next.

  3. Spot on, Maisey! Couldn’t agree more. HOW people make love often reveals just as much, if not more, about them than how long they wait – or don’t! – to take it to that level.

  4. So true! I think it can be a very powerful way to reveal character. How better than when their guard is down? When they’re at their most intimate and vulnerable? incidentally, I love to write love scenes. :}

  5. Forgot to mention . . .what a delicious cover!

  6. oh my gawsh, isn’t it?? My jaw fell open when I saw it. And it’s perfect to the scene I wrote, her little nightgown was part of the story, also, they were in a tent, and there was the couch…heavenly.

    Also, am 3 for 3 on North American covers for Heroines in nighties and heroes without/partially without shirts!

  7. I think sex just for the sake of throwing it in there is never as hot as the sex that means something to the hero and heroine. There are plenty of regencies where they hardly hold hands, yet still, the sexual tension is there. It’s not what the characters are doing that stays with a reader; what stays is the importance and meaning of the acts.

  8. I’m with you, Maisey. No armpit hair for me. πŸ˜‰ And yeah big no to too much physical description. I’m guilty of sometimes not thinking more about how the h&h make love. In fact one of my biggest learning curves with that was trying to cut and paste a sex scene I was particularly pleased with into a later draft of the same story and realising that I couldn’t. The scene didn’t fit because it was a different draft and the characters in the later draft were different and wouldn’t have made love in the same way as they did in the earlier draft. Does that make sense? And actually, even sometimes skipping ahead to write the sex scene – yeah, I’m guilty! – doesn’t work for me either because it’s so totally dependent on the scene immediately before it and how much I’ve learned about the characters up until that point. Sex scenes are so hugely important too so that I tend to take a lot of time with them. You can learn so much about their deeper feelings because sex makes them so vulnerable. Ah, I do like writing a good love scene! I could never write sweet. Hehe! πŸ™‚

  9. Armpit hair? Seriously? I had to reread that lol.

    Great post and FAB-U-LOUS cover, congrats!

  10. Jackie, LOL! I’ve done that! Thought, oh well, I’ll just copy and paste my sex scenes in from an earlier draft…um, no…that doesn’t work. At all. I’ve never been able to salvage a love scene that way. So no, not weird or sad at all! And I can’t skip ahead to anything for the reason you just said, because it has to build for me.

    Lacey, I SO wish I were joking about that…I read it in a book once. O_O

    Thanks re the cover too…I LOVES it.

  11. I find some sex scenes really boring and as said above I will skip them to move onto the story again. Some authors seem to slot sex scenes in on a sort of perscription, i.e. a third through, two thirds through and at the end. One of the most arousing sex scenes I’ve read lately was in India Grey’s “Taken for Revenge, Bedded for Pleasure”. It does seem to be a delicate writing challenge to get the sex right. Mx

  12. My favourite part is weaving emotion through a love scene. I generally have very little idea of what kind of love scene I’ll be writing… I just get immersed in the previous scene (as Jackie said) and then I let the characters decide where to take it.

  13. Morton, first off, India is amazing. πŸ™‚ Second, I think it is tricky to find the balance, and then once you have, to convey it as you intend. And the last thing you want is for people to skip over parts of your book!

    Chelsea, it works out so well for you too. πŸ™‚

  14. Armpit hair? Seriously? Oh well I suppose it takes all sorts. I read a blog by a lady recently who said the sexiest part of her husband was his ……..knees! And I guess it’s the same for the characters in each book. Their turn ons and turn offs, their individual hangups and all the emotional baggage they bring to the bedroom (or wherever) is what makes each love scene different.

    For what it’s worth Maisey I loved your sex scenes in His Virgin Acquisition but I REALLY loved how you described how the heroine felt afterwards – that walking on air feeling but you wrote it so realistically that I was “ah yes I remember that feeling” *wistful sigh*.

    I have to confess whenever I write a love scene I so think someone (like my Dad eeek) is going to peer over my shoulder and start hitting the delete key faster than the eye can see and growl “You will NOT write those kind of words, young lady!” Makes me giggle every time!

  15. Elissa, yeah…I suppose it does take all kinds but…meh! *iz traumatized*

    And oh thank you for the compliments. I’ll take them gladly. :)And if it consoles you at all, my mother reads all my books…and I so know what you mean, because if I can just let go and write a scene it’s free to be all manner of hot but…if I start thinking ‘oh, my mom is going to read this…and her friends…and my pastor’s wife maybe…” well, that just sort of messes it all up!

    So when I write those scenes, I just try to let it all go and let my characters have at. And pretend I’m the only one who will ever read it! *whistles*

  16. Hi Maisey,
    Really interesting post and it certainly is a great time for reading about writing about sex with all the posts out there. My characters are building up to their big moment right now so very helpful.

    I tried to write you an email but for some reason the ‘captcha’ wasn’t working on either my laptop or desktop. Anyway I’d wanted to tell you how much I enjoyed A Mistake, A Prince and a Pregnancy’. It’s a timely post, because what really got me was how beautifully you strung out the sensuality over the last third of the book. Wow that build up to the climax (pun fully intended) was hot, hot, hot. Can’t wait to read some more of your novels.

  17. Carol,

    Aww, that’s SO lovely to hear! It’s funny because with that book I wrote and it went…oh no, there’s SO much sex in this book! And then I looked to see which scene I could take out, and none of them lifted out to me. So they all stayed. πŸ™‚ Anyway, you’ve certainly helped me with the doubt crows for the day as I work on polishing up book #7!

    Best of luck with your characters and their ‘big moment’. Here’s hoping it’s good for everyone involved.

    Also, I’ll look and see what’s going on with the captcha, in case the problem’s on my end. (let’s hear it for being your own web master!)

  18. Eek! Thank you, Carol, it was a problem on my end. I think I sorted it…

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