Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It will be posted in several parts over the next few months:
1. Using your characters’ flaws.
2. Using your characters’ strengths.
3. Using your characters’ goals.
4. Using your characters’ personalities.
5. Using plot and conflict.
6. Using setting.
If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.
The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:
Enchanting the Lady: In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.
Double Enchantment: When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.
Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.
Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?
So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.
ONE: USING YOUR CHARACTERS’ FLAWS
This is probably one of my favorite scenes from my books, so this one came to me right away. In Enchanting the Lady, Felicity has been under a don’t-notice-me spell most of her life. Although she’s a beautiful girl, she thinks she’s forgettable and plain. This is her wedding night, and she’s waiting for the arrival of her new husband:
If only she were more memorable. What if he came into the room and didn’t even notice her in the bed? That, she decided, would be more dreadful than him not coming at all.
Felicity lowered the bedcovers. She leaned back on her arms, thrusting her breasts against the sheer cloth of her nightgown. She did have a nice figure, surely he remembered that from their night in the Gardens. A nice face wasn’t everything, was it?
She crawled out from beneath the bedcovers and smoothed them flat. Then she tried several different positions, hoping to gain his attention when he walked in. He’d yet to forget her--but the longer he took, the more she doubted.
Felicity lay sideways, hand propped on her head, gown billowing around her body, outlining the curve of her hips. She lifted her leg and pointed the toe. With a grimace, she rolled onto her stomach, propped her head again, and looked at her back. Yes, the gown draped her behind in an enticing manner-- she could just make out the dark line between her cheeks. But would he like that sort of view?
She grimaced again and rolled onto her back. Perhaps if she propped the pillows behind her, yes, and spread her hair out like a halo, and then flung out her arms like so…
No, that wouldn’t do. She should sit on the edge of the bed, and then put her arms behind her, and look over her shoulder with a smile of wicked invitation…
She flopped backwards, her legs spread and hanging down the side of the bed, her arms flung wide in agony. She couldn’t find a single position that didn’t make her feel like a fool. Still, she got up to try again. Maybe if she stood on the…
The door edged open with a soft creak, and Terence slipped into the room. Felicity froze in mid-pose, having been so involved in making herself look desirable that she’d forgotten all about him.
Terence glanced at the bed, and his mouth dropped open. The look of utter amazement on his face made Felicity look down at herself. She couldn’t even recall how she’d managed this latest arrangement. Somehow her gown had gotten tangled around her waist, and she was on all fours, her long, black hair cascading down her back and over her shoulders, her bare bottom exposed to his gaze.
Well, she needn’t wonder if he’d like that sort of view. His eyes glittered with appreciation.
I realize you may not have the fantasy element in your book. But how many women do you know that are very attractive, but wholly insecure in their looks? Wouldn’t the complete vulnerability of sex bring that fear to the forefront? How much fun could you have incorporating that into your love scene? And it certainly doesn’t just apply to your heroine. What issues does your hero have that can lead to the development of an intriguing encounter? Which leads me to my next excerpt, again from Enchanting the Lady:
Terence took a step forward, his hands fumbling with his tie. His voice slurred the words. “It might have been better if you’d already been asleep with that delightful body hidden beneath the linens.”
He threw his cravat on the floor and started shrugging off his coat. “Because now it’s too late and I can’t stop this from happening.”
Felicity dragged the top of the bedcovers closer to her. His words sparked a kernel of fear in her belly. Was it so dreadful then, that he’d try to spare her from it? Why did he act so strange? “Are you drunk?”
“Certainly not.” Terence threw his coat over a chair. “Slightly foxed, but never drunk.”
Felicity’s hands finally closed on the edge of the bedcovers, and she started to drag them over her.
“Don’t do that,” he growled.
So is your hero approaching the encounter with trust issues? Are you writing a mystery where your heroine may be a suspect, and despite your hero’s attraction for her, he’s still suspicious? Does your hero want your heroine, and he’s angry at himself because of it? Whether it’s trust or power issues, let your characters guide you in their interactions so that your love scene will be as unique as your entire novel is.
Until Next Time,