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Sunday, August 29, 2010

Writing Fresh Love Scenes

by Ann Lethbridge

First a little squeeee, if I may.

The cover for my next Harlequin Mills and Boon book, The Gamekeeper's Lady out in hardcover in the UK in December, just found its way on to amazon and I'm thrilled. Mills and Boon have recently updated their cover design. I love the new design and I am very pleased with my first one in the new series. It will be issued in North America in mass market in 2011 and is the first of a two book series about twin brothers.

On with my topic. Having eight books in print along with numerous short stories means I have written upwards of twenty-five love scenes. Well, let's face it there are only so many things your couples can do in a love scene. So how do you keep them fresh and vibrant and well....sexy. I'm not talking erotica here, though I do aim for a high level of heat in my stories, but it is sensual tension that is key, whether you write hot or sweet or somewhere in between.

When you start writing the world is your oyster. You have the freedom to pick whatever place, circumstance, activity you can think of for your couples. But as time goes on your options begin to dwindle, or so I thought. Well yes, we can think of different places, outdoors, in a cupboard, etc. which is challenging to say the least, but is it fresh and more importantly is it enough?

Recently, I have given this some considerable thought, and one thing I have concluded is that making love has to make everything worse, either for one or both members of the couple. In the earlier stages of the book making love in whatever form, has to up the stakes and be one of actions likely to drive them apart emotionally. The more it aggravates a character's inner conflict, the better. Obviously if it is during the resolution, you are dealing with a completely different circumstance.

That doesn't mean that the moment itself isn't enjoyable for them both. It has to be the best they have ever experienced, if they have ever experienced it before. It must certainly be consensual. It also has to be well motivated and a natural outcome of their attraction.

For me, the other important ingredient, the dash of cayenne, the heat, is that it is fraught with conflict for one, or both members of the couple. The outcome must be disaster for someone, a loss of control, a reversal of a key principal, a step backwards in a particular goal. And the reader has to feel both the overwhelming desire and the worry about the problems that will ensue.

The lovemaking itself must be delicious, wicked, hot, pure delight, but for me it is the conflict it creates, the inner turmoil of the characters you have created, that makes it fresh.

I would be very interested to hear what ingredients you feel are key in keeping love scenes fresh.

Ann's story The Governess and the Earl In the Mills and Boon anthology New Voices is now available in stores and on line. You can find her at her website or her Regency Ramble blog


Keena Kincaid said...

Hi, Ann. I totally agree that the first love scene has to up the ante, so to speak. Another trick to keeping it fresh, in my opinion, is to not plan it. Some couples I've written rush into it, others take longer to get there. In many cases, when I think they should be ready to make love, I found out they think otherwise. :-)

Sally said...

I struggle with the love scenes and have yet to feel really confident in writing one. I find in reading a love scene it is all about the dialogue for me.

Diane Gaston said...

I think something new needs to be revealed in the love scene, if at all possible. Unless something else is going on in the love scene, I skip it when I'm reading. It's rather like I say to myself, "I get it; they're making love. I wonder what happens next?"

Ann Lethbridge said...

Great comments guys, thanks for your ideas.