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.
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.
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…
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! 🙂