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Website of author and professional editor Rachelle M. N. Shaw. Find information about her books, her editing services, and her blog, From Mind to Paper: On Writing and Editing.

From Mind to Paper: On Writing and Editing

From Mind to Paper is a blog for writers, editors, and those interested in the English language. It covers a multitude of writing topics, from punctuation and grammar to plot development, character development, and world building. In addition to in-depth articles about various writing topics, this blog also has a number of series posts, which are currently being transformed into a nonfiction series on writing.

Make Every Scene Count: Intimacy and Romance

Rachelle M. N. Shaw

As natural as intimacy and romance are in everyday life, they aren't the easiest scenes to write about, especially when it comes to standard fiction. For pure romance/erotica novels, the task is pretty simple. Explain in detail the heightened emotions and surges of passion one experiences when engaging in any intimate physical activity. However, for standard fiction that doesn't focus on romance, writing a sex scene or even just a romantic one can be tricky. To establish a well-written and seemingly spontaneous but cleverly crafted love scene for your fiction novel, consider the following guidelines.

  1. Use heightened emotions. As I mentioned in some of my previous posts, dramatic writing isn't really something that I endorse very often. Nevertheless, love scenes call for it. When you're in love, every motion, breath, and thought (especially of your lover) is intensified and becomes paramount to your next move. As such, these emotions often lead to instinctive reactions that are not well-thought-out. These scenes usually have a slow-motion-like effect to them.

  2. Pay attention to physiological changes. Before any close contact is even made, our bodies adopt some physiological responses when someone we attracted to is in immediate vicinity. Some we notice ourselves, and others we do not. These responses include increased heart rate, perspiration, flushing of the face, clamminess (especially of the hands), and butterflies in the stomach. Some other common, less obvious responses are nausea, shyness (hiding or quickly fleeing the scene), loss of speech or stumbling over words, talking too much or too quickly, forgetfulness, and nervousness (i.e. playing with hands or hair, fidgeting, biting lower lip, looking downward, shifting position often, not able to look in someone's eyes).

  3. It's all about the specifics. As with the previous points, note all actions and physical responses that each character involved makes. If the scene is unfolding slowly for the character being followed, so should unfold it for the reader.

  4. Don't be too revealing. Even with emotions portrayed and physiological changes exhibited, when it comes to full-on sex scenes, it's good practice to leave some to the imagination. While the reader wants to know what happens, they are usually more excited and "turned on" if you will when parts of the action are eluded to but not actually stated in a count-by-count blow. A good sex scene in a fiction novel works a lot like clothes on a woman; unless you're going for erotica, it's best to show a few tantalizing parts that make your mind wander.