Readers pick up a romance novel expecting a happily ever after. It’s the cornerstone of the genre, after all. So the beauty of each story comes from the unfolding. How will these particular people find love?
In my upcoming entry into the genre, Love Scenes, we follow a down on her luck actress as she reunites with her least favorite former costar of all time. I knew instantly that my how, so to speak, was an enemies-to-lovers workplace romance. I wanted to make this book swoony, fun, and satisfying. Actors with a tumultuous past filming a romantic war movie together? That gave me plenty to work with while creating my story’s happily ever after.
Every reader will have different expectations, and authors can never please every person. With that in mind, there are countless ways to create an effective romance. These are the three tips that helped me as I crafted the love scenes within Love Scenes.
3 Tips for Writing an Effective Love Scene
1. Establish your boundaries
Much like a good love interest knows and honors their partner’s boundaries, you have to know your own! When it comes to actual love scenes, if you are uncomfortable writing physical descriptions, you do not have to include them! Just because there is freedom in the romance genre does not mean you are required to capitalize on it. Sex can happen off the page, or never even be mentioned. Or it can be very prominent. Spend some time considering what you think you can handle. If you’re hoping to be published, many people will be reading your words along the way. As you work on your romance, honor your own limits!
At the end of the day, you are trying to convey the connection between your main character and their love interest. In Love Scenes, my two main characters’ often discuss how all it takes between them is a look. To me, that is equally as romantic as their on the page exploits.
2. Commit to your decisions
If you decide you want to write something with heat but you’re embarrassed about it, the best way out is through. Get the words on the page and be proud of yourself. You are working in a genre that celebrates pleasure. It really is a beautifully safe space! It helps to know what kind of words you want to use. Euphemisms are fine. So is using direct anatomical terms. Readers will go along with whatever you decide, but they can sense a lack of conviction. Whatever you choose, commit to it all the way.
3. Embrace the emotions
No matter what kind of love scene you’re creating—be it a look, a handhold, a kiss, or a sex scene—focus on what makes the experience memorable for the people involved. This is the how coming to life. When in doubt, your characters’ feelings are your story’s guiding light. We want to know what makes this particular experience unique. Is it the location? The timing? The unexpected connection burning between these two people who never ever thought this would be happening to them? Whatever it is, lean into it as much as you can. Romance is a celebration. Don’t be afraid to party!