1. What are the keys to writing love scenes/sex scenes with emotional punch?
Authors need to use these scenes to reveal something about their characters. Let us see their walls come down just a little or do something seemingly out of character. Even the smallest details like a hint of vulnerability or a moment of truthfulness can deliver a satisfying feeling for the reader that keeps him or her wanting more of those emotions. Authors should avoid being overdramatic or waxing poetic, but they definitely need to set the scene and make sure they choose their point-of-view character for each of these scenes carefully. If they start building the sexual tension from page one, it’s going to pay off here. Also, authors should frequently raise the stakes, and these scenes can be a great way to raise the emotional stakes.
2. How can you help authors create convincing love and/or sex scenes? What are some stumbles you’ve seen authors make when writing such scenes?
I suggest not throwing in a sex scenes just because they think they should. Each one should advance the plot in some way. It’s better to have one or two well-crafted scenes as opposed to several mediocre ones. Authors should definitely stay true to their characters when writing these scenes. That’s not to say that they can’t have a hidden side revealed in the bedroom, but I don’t want to be completely taken aback. It’s okay to have more detailed scenes and also some that fade to black. Less can definitely be more. I would encourage authors to use all senses, not just sight and touch. There are so many different ways to paint a scene and heighten the reader’s emotions. Also, there is nothing wrong with a little awkwardness every once and a while to make it feel more realistic.
Build the tension! I don’t like it when authors rush toward the first sex scene like it’s a race. Of course, don’t make it drag on forever, but there is nothing better than that delicious anticipation of wondering when the couple will finally get together. Utilize the push and pull dynamic. Tease the readers by bringing the couple closer together and then pulling them apart. Nothing makes me cringe more than when authors use certain euphemisms for body parts. Talk about a mood killer. I’m sure there will be some people turned off by any word used, but there are definitely certain ones that stand out and not in a good way. At the same time, don’t make it clinical. You want your readers biting their lips and crossing their legs.
3. What does “show, don’t tell” mean in the context of romance? We have to know what the MCs are thinking, which is almost always going to be exposition/telling. When is telling okay and when not?
I think the main thing here is to show emotions. If a character is feeling happy or frustrated or sad, don’t just tell the reader. An author can use body language, mannerisms, and actions to illustrate these feelings. Strong verbs and use of details are key. Showing needs to be used in moderation, though. If an author is going to show everything, the reader will get tired of it fast. For example, tell me what the heroine is making for breakfast, but describe her frustration with the hero by showing that she slammed the fridge door, threw the frying pan in the sink, and leaned against the counter with her arms crossed and her lips pursed. Telling is generally better for internal narrative.
4. What are some important keys authors need to keep in mind to create a satisfying resolution?
Well, of course the couple needs to end up together. It doesn’t necessarily need to be a happily ever after, but it should definitely be a happily for now. Don’t rush it, but don’t drag it on forever either. I want to see that both characters have changed and learned things along the way as well as have had to sacrifice something to get to this point. One person should not be giving up everything for the other one. The conflicts should be overcome and in a realistic way. Authors need to show the characters are ready to be in the relationship and give it their all. The beginning and the end should tie into one another somehow so it feels as if the story has come full circle.