Its Hard to Write Love

One of the most difficult scenes for me to write are "love" / erotic scenes.

It's not so much that I feel embarrassed writing them, but there is a definite awkwardness that comes over me when two of my characters start getting into it.  I know I have to keep writing, see where their intimacy takes them and what it reveals about each character.  I believe that how a character does things reveals a lot about who they really are versus what they portray themselves to be.  In some ways writing these scenes is as much an exploration of a character's true nature for me as it is for (I hope) the reader.  A "love scene" for me is a real chance to show the reader a rarely glimpsed but critical honesty about a character.

Given how important these scenes can be in my narratives, what exactly is the issue I have with them?

I have a bit of trouble about the fine tuning aspects.  The critical question for me is:

How graphic should the physical details be above what's necessary?

After all, I don't want an intimate moment to read like a technical journal, nor should it break up the flow of the rest of the book.  I also, I admit, want it to be at least somewhat steamy (with a few exceptions- for example, the love scene in my first book, Blood Siren, is NOT meant to be erotic since it is not about love or tenderness or sharing intimacy at all.  It's supposed to reveal how dead inside one of the characters involved is, and despite this how the other being involved is enthralled by them.)  And here, I think, is where I get the most hung up.

There's a fine line between sultry, heart-pounding prose and outright, laughably bad descriptions.  I really, really do not want to wind up featured for a "Bad Sex Award."  I also don't want to go overboard and offend my audience with my descriptions.  I wouldn't necessarily mind my readers being offended by what a character does in an intimate context, villainous antagonists are supposed to be offensive in some way after all, but if I offend my audience with bad prose then not only have I broken the narrative and ruined the scene, but I may have also ruined the book.  That would be quite unforgivable.

In order to avoid this and achieve what I'd actually like to see from my writing, I read a number of books on how to write romantic scenes and romance books in general.  I've also read a number of romance novels now to see what all the hub-ub is about and get a sense for what is really considered steamy writing that keeps readers coming back for more.  Herein is a second challenge, since not everyone likes the same things and there's no guarantee I'm reading the books that are considered to be the best in the category.

Although I'm not trying to write romance stories, romance and intimacy are part of life.  As I am trying to write an accurate portrayal of life in my version of the future, and since I'm also trying to write an interesting story, romance and intimacy are an inevitable consequence.

I'm happy to say that my research has opened my mind to some new stories I never would have considered reading before, and I feel like I have a whole new galaxy of adventure to explore in romance writing.  I'm looking forward to the adventure.

I'm in the midst of composing a list of books to read, so if you have any suggestions please make them below.


  1. Wonderful post! I've actually been struggling with this myself, and God knows I'm dreading the point when my two MCs need to be exhibiting the tell-tale signs of a relationship... I always wonder how far I can go before inducing the need to vomit in my readers...

    Great job!

    1. My thanks! I really appreciate the compliment!


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