Love Scenes: Do You ‘Bring the Heat’ or ‘Keep it Sweet’?

Antique_Valentine_1909_01Antigue Valentines cardIn honor of Valentine’s Day, us Janes thought it would be fun to tackle the topic of Do’s and Don’ts for Writing a Love Scene. Since we are as diverse as a Whitman’s Sampler, I’m curious to read everyone’s answers.

As for me, this question is particularly tricky – since I write for two, distinctly different audiences. For my adult futuristic stories, I write medium to high heat love scenes. My goal is to make sure the sex is meaningful and helps to drive the story forward. Since I visualize scenes while I am writing, I try NOT to get too mechanical or flowery in my descriptions. Graphic descriptions and excessively embellished language won’t fly with my target adult audience. How do I know my target audience’s tastes? Well, in truth, I write what I like to read. I am a member of my audience.

My young adult books, to date, are light on the ‘carnal knowledge’ level of intimacy. The most the main characters do is kiss with a sprinkling of caressing – nothing more. Don’t get me wrong, there are young adult stories that include love / sex scenes. Again, I am focused on my target audience and what makes sense for my characters at this point in their story, emotional, and romance arcs. One thing I do know, is that if they do ‘go there’, there will be more sweet than heat.

In summary, my contribution to the Do’s and Don’ts list are:

1.     Know your audience

2.     Don’t get too mechanical or flowery

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About cmorgankennedy

Author of futuristic, urban fantasy, and steampunk. Mecha geek fueled by chocolate and herbal tea. Author marketing maven. Co-founder of www.authormarketing101.com.

Posted on February 3, 2014, in C. Morgan Kennedy and tagged , , , . Bookmark the permalink. 7 Comments.

  1. Hi to all, how is all, I think every one is getting more from this website, and
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  2. Great Post! but I got stopped at Whitman’s Sampler and now i need some See’s Chocolate :-)

  3. “Don’t get too mechanical or flowery” I so agree. If it reads as if the couple is putting together IKEA furniture, there are too many step-by-step descriptions. If you can’t figure out whether they are having sex or painting water colors, it’s time to break out of the flowery metaphors. :-)

  4. I do think that it is particularly difficult in adult romance where many of the genres are from sweet to very hot. Even Regencies wish used to always be sweet now have a trend toward steamy.

    My rule of thumb has been write what feels comfortable/good/right to me. There are readers like me in the genre and those readers will “get it.” I also believe that when someone does include sex in their book (at whatever level) there needs to be a good reason other than titillation (unless its erotica). The sex needs to be crucial to the character arc and to the plot moving forward. If it’s there just because someone told you that you need three sex scenes in the novel so you shoved it into chapters 4, 12, and 18 to meet the requirement then it won’t work.

  5. I always prefer to bring the heat and there is a good reason why. When I was a teenager in a small town, I was desperate for *any* information on women’s sexuality. I was reduced to reading Heinlein simply because he was bold enough to write women actually liking sex.

    Even if you love the sweet, please don’t ever skimp on the reality of young women’s desires and how it feels to be in love or desire! :)

  6. > Know your audience

    This is great advice. If you do this, you can’t go wrong. And as you say, as writers, our first audiences are ourselves. Now if only I could know me…

  7. Great post. I’m in the same boat as you with writing for two different audiences. And navigating the two is getting easier and more difficult at the same time as more and more adult readers keep crossing over to YA and new adult fiction.

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