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In the 68 fiction novels I’ve read this year, most of them contained a thread of romance.  Some of the romantic scenes were funny, some wildly passionate, some horribly awkward or just plain bad and unnecessary to the story. So what makes a good love scene? And why do some enhance a story while others leave you wondering,  what was the point of that?

, Romantic Suspense novelist of Killing Bliss, Over Her Dead Body (both I have read) and many others (I look forward to reading) give sound advice for writing romantic scenes. Here’s what she says…

“The steamy sex scene isn’t the exclusive territory of the romance novelist. Writers from many genres think about including sex scenes in their stories, either because they want to write one or because they feel somewhat compelled to. Sex sells, the writer hears, and we do want to sell our stories.  What writers don’t want is to win the Bad Sex of the Year trophy. So here’s some helpful thoughts, writer warriors. (Oh, hell, let’s call them rules. That way we can have fun breaking them.)

  1. You never, ever have to write a sex scene. It’s a choice. Like climbing Mt. Everest.
  2. If you do write a sex scene, never, ever write one that takes you beyond your personal comfort level. You’ll know when you’re doing it, your story will show it, and your reader will know it.
  3. (My personal favorite!) It is a far, far better thing you do—not to write a love scene at all than to write an egregiously bad one.

“We all know a reader is lulled by tone—it’s like music playing in the background. Tone is a form of continuity and it sets up expectations. So if you jump from light and frothy to down and dirty, your sex scene will jar the reader. The reverse is also true. Stay true to your music.”

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  1. Good advice! I like what you said about tone and personal comfort zones.

    In the novel I am currently seeking representation for there is a tint of romance, but it’s innocent, like my character. Having a wild sex scene would not work at all, so I didn’t even try to put one in there, but this is good information to have for future books.

    Tone and comfort zone, I’ll remember that. Thanks!

  2. Last year I read Janet Evanovich’s book “How I Write.” She gave wonderful advice, consistent with EC’s on writing romance/sex scenes…and you have highlighted it. You can’t have an innocent character do a wild scene.

    In Jim Tenuto’s novel “Blood Atonement,” one of the character’s is accused of sleeping with someone. After the accusation, the character admits to it and basically moves on. When I read it, I thought *there’s one way to handle writing a sex scene* don’t write it and just admit it happened!

    How I Write
    Blood Atonement

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