Kink or No Kink?

  Hello all! 🙂

I wanted to share a post about a topic that has haunted me. I have lost sleep over this. I have gone long periods of time without writing because of this one thing. This one terrifying thing.

It’s not spiders.

Oh no.

I speak of…. love scenes.

yawattahosby wrote an awesome post giving some very helpful tips on writing the dreaded love scene. She inspired me to write this post, and I’d like to pose the same question she asked – do you have any tips? What helps you get past the, er… slump? And how do you feel about love scenes? Useful for character development and showing emotional depth and connection, or is it ‘written porn?’ And what qualifies as a ‘good’ love scene? Is it about emotion, or good body mechanics?

For WordPress, because I think they’re meant to be more family friendly, I’ll probably go the ‘leave it at the door’ route for the most part. I’ll have to read up on the rules.

Love scenes are tricky, at least for me. I’ve finished a novel I plan on sending out to agents as soon as I’m done getting it critiqued and edited to the best of my ability, and there are three love scenes in it. Not a lot, really, but I agonized over them for months when I first wrote them last year. I went back to those scenes so many times – second guessing, deleting, re-writing, repeat – that at the end of it, my love scenes were an over-edited, lifeless mess and I had serious writer’s block. Not pretty.

I knew there was a fine line there, but I had no idea where that was – especially when I didn’t know where I fell on the love scene writing spectrum myself. Everything made me uncomfortable, so it was hard telling. I would write a sentence that contained the word ‘breast,’ and the agonizing would begin. I’d immediately think:

“Oh no… my mom is going to read this…”

“My grandparents are going to read this…”

“THE KIDS I BABYSAT ARE GOING TO READ THIS!!!!”

And then my head exploded.

Some love scenes I’ve read are too ‘anatomy study’ or too ‘*knock, knock* Oh my, the pizza man is here…. *cue bow-chika-bow-wow*’ And worst yet, I have read a love scene where two random characters – I kid you not – did their business while carrying on a lengthy conversation about how they would get revenge on the main character.

Image Detail  Sad face.

It was mechanical, the dialogue was awkward and didn’t fit the, uh… setting…. and there was an inappropriate use of sound effects involved. I had to put the book down because I think my retinas were bleeding at one point…

Image Detail

It’s not that it had too much kink, it just came across as unneeded filler – and mildly creep-tastic filler, at that. If a love scene is in a story it should never feel like it’s just there, taking up space (and in some cases causing retinal deterioration). I want it to be vital to the characters and plot in some way. That could just be my preference though.

So, what to do to avoid the ‘exploding head of embarrassment,’ and the pitfalls of inappropriate sound effect/setting usage?

I am no expert, by any stretch of the imagination, but I did find a few things to help me get over my fear.

1) I read all kinds of love scenes, all over the spectrum. From innocent ‘leave it at the door’ love scenes to erotica ‘leave yer #$^%^@#$  and  !@#$%^^@##$%$  with  !@#$##$%%^^@‘ love scenes. I especially look at my favorite books, and try to find what worked in them. I’ve even made a file where I’ve copied down bits and pieces of scenes, dialogue, description, and their sources, for quick reference. It helps me get over the weirdness of actually typing out words and phrases that make me blush like mad, and helps me get an idea for where I fall on the spectrum myself.

2) I have a love scene playlist. Maybe it sounds silly, but I have about 50 songs on there, and I put the whole thing on repeat when writing love scenes. And I do have a soundtrack for each story, even my short stories. 🙂

3) I have an ‘x-file.’ Lol, I will *never* let this file see the light of day. Not if my life depended on it. Even my husband knows never to peek at this file. I know where he sleeps, and I will exact vengeance upon him in horrifying and imaginative ways if he even thinks about it. And he knows this. He signed the waiver. In this file, I challenged myself to write the most outrageous ‘pizza man’ scenarios I could come up with. I won’t lie. Beer was involved a few times. 🙂 I guess you could say I was trying to desensitize myself? Going so far out of my comfort zone really helped me find that fine line I was looking for. Lol, now I don’t have any problem what-so-ever using all kinds of terms in my love scenes.

So, what say you, my friends? How do you tackle this issue?

Until next time, Happy Writing! 🙂

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10 thoughts on “Kink or No Kink?

  1. The short answer is, if you don’t like something or it makes you uncomfortable, don’t write it. Never, ever include something just because you think it’s “expected”. The minute you do that, you’ve stopped being true to yourself as a writer and guaranteed what you have written won’t sell (or at least shouldn’t) because it sounds phony. Tell the story you want to tell, the way you want to tell it. Bring out the emotional connections where they need to happen.

    Just to note, one of my publishers did suggest adding more erotic content to one of my novels. In that case, it did help me find some missing emotional connections that improved the story — but I also worked to make sure the scenes were believable with the characters involved and nothing I wrote made me uncomfortable.

  2. paigeaddams says:

    Thank you for your advice – I have worried about what’s “expected” of me, and I’m working to get away from that line of thinking. It has been hard for me to find my own voice in my writing sometimes, especially when writing love scenes, but I think I’m slowly figuring it out.

    And I totally agree – the last thing I want is to write something phony. I think that may have been part of the problem with the scene I described in my post.

    I’m learning to be myself in my writing, and only put stuff out there that I feel good about – and that I’m comfortable with. 🙂

  3. yhosby says:

    Hey Paigeaddams,
    I definitely think that lovemaking scenes should reveal more on the emotional side than the mechanical side. I blush so much when I write these scenes, it’s not even funny LOL. I always look over my shoulder, thinking someone’s trying to read it. But after I finish writing the scene, then all is right in the world again LOL. I wouldn’t call it “written porn”, but that doesn’t mean other people won’t.

    I definitely have to thank my critique partners with revising these type of scenes. Without their help, my stories would probably be something you set down because it’d sound too mechnical.

    So I guess another tip I’d include is: listen to suggestions from your critique partners. If you’re a writer you likes to work alone, then maybe get a friend’s opinion.

    Keep smiling,
    Yawatta

    • paigeaddams says:

      Thank you for the advice. And I’m right there with you on the checking over my shoulder and blushing, lol. 🙂

      Yeah, everyone has a different line – just depends on the writer and the reader individually. One person’s “written porn” is another’s poetry.

      I did finally get up the courage to send a critique partner my full story, with love scenes included. It was so nerve wracking! 🙂 I am eternally grateful to the people who look over my work. Having critique partners has improved my writing so much, and I am so thankful for those wonderful people. 🙂

      • yhosby says:

        My critique partner wrote romance, so I knew she’d be able to help me get over the embarrassment. I thank my critique partners and writing buddies every day too 🙂

        Keep smiling,
        Yawatta

  4. Oh God! I feel your pain!

    I find love scenes difficult enough to read – they are just so cringeworthy. It’s such a minefield…

    If it is something which is happening for the character then it needs to be shared but then also it needs to have a point. If it doesn’t have a reason which develops character, plot or relationships then I try so hard to leave it out! Or write it with comedy thrown in for free!

    • paigeaddams says:

      Yeah, I definitely agree – I like for love scenes I read to add something to the story, and I try really hard to make sure whatever love scenes I write are actually relevant to the rest of the story, lol. And thank you for your advice – I may have to try adding some comedy. That’s an awesome idea. 🙂

  5. Love this. It is interesting that I came upon this tonight because I am having some issues with this as well. What always hurts me…….Thinking about who will read what I wrote.

    • paigeaddams says:

      Thank you. 🙂 And I totally feel your pain.

      It *kills* me dwelling on who will end up reading my love scenes, and it’s given me some serious writer’s block. I think writing can be a very personal thing anyway, and opening up to write something like a love scene seems even more personal to me.

      Lol, I’ve both read and written some crazy stuff to desensitize myself. Somehow it helped to run amok with my ‘x-file.’ I can delete it anytime, no harm done. Lol, and trust me – I will *never* publish any of it. 🙂 But I can look at the stuff there, and the erotica I’ve read from other writers, and I’m a lot more comfortable about where I fall in writing the scenes I do want published.

      Good luck with your story – and don’t give up on those scenes! Keep pushing, write what’s in your heart to write, and go from there. I love your blog, and that you’re not afraid to say exactly what you think. You’ve got this. 🙂

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