Forums Forums Editing the Romance Novel Week 4 discussion questions Reply To: Week 4 discussion questions

Brittany McIntosh

1. What are the keys to writing love scenes/sex scenes with emotional punch?

To write emotional sex scenes I think an author needs to tap into what the characters are thinking/feeling in the moment, rather than just focusing on what they are doing. The scene should reveal something new about the characters and should provide insight into how the characters feel about each other and the status of their relationship. Even though dialogue may be minimal in these scenes (understandable…) a few words can go a long way to revealing the feelings/emotions of the characters.

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 think the scene needs to feel organic to the natural progression of that couple’s relationship. There should be a gradual build up of romantic and sexual tension between the characters and authors should utilize this to their advantage. In general, I don’t like flowery or “purple prose” during sex scenes. It can be quite eye-roll inducing and take the reader out of the story. I’m also not a fan of vague sex scenes where the author kind of glosses over the experience in a few short sentences. Personally, I think it’s a cop out. If the sex was important enough to mention, then get into it! Make the scene purposeful by providing enough information so the reader gets to learn something new about the characters and the development of their relationship.

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?

Telling is part of any story, but I think it’s more about the proportion of telling to showing. If you can show something, then show it. Utilize action and dialogue to show how the characters feel about each other. Describe the way the characters physically move around one another and what they observe of the other person. Are there hesitations? Do they move to touch the other character without realizing it? Make sure that dialogue is effective. What characters say (and sometimes, don’t say) provides insight into what they are thinking/feeling. And sometimes when a character’s observations and/or actions are in discord with what they are saying, this can imply some kind of emotional internal conflict that “tells” the reader what that character is thinking, even if the character doesn’t know themselves…

4. What are some important keys authors need to keep in mind to create a satisfying resolution?

I think pacing is very important here. It can’t feel rushed, but it also can’t feel dragged out. The climax should incite the realization that these character’s want to be together, i.e. the happily ever after. I also want the resolution to make sense. I want the characters to “clear the air” and address all the misunderstandings and problems that brought them into conflict with one another. Of course, I don’t want this to feel forced either. This can be tricky. I notice that many happily ever after scenes can be somewhat cringe worthy. I think author’s have to be careful to not over do it with the sappy language and cliches. Sometimes a crooked smile and an inside joke between two characters can be much more poignant and impactful than a passionate kiss in the rain. But, to each their own…