Finding the, Uh, Good Parts

From Susan/Miranda:

Romances are love stories.  They follow the relationship between a man and a woman from that first meeting to the all-important happy ending or HEA (Happily Ever After in romance-writing parlance.) And somewhere in the middle, or the end, or maybe even on the first page, will be at least one love scene.

Before_painting_2“Love scene”: how can two little words be so loaded?  Readers expect them, editors demand them, many writers dread them.  Used books fall open to them. They’re the scenes that non-romance-readers ridicule the most, and often with good reason, too.  They can bring out the purplest prose (His throbbing manhood!  Her furled petals of femininity!), or embrace words that used to get your mouth washed out with soap.  They can turn heroes into raging bulls ready to perform all night and then some, or reduce them to such paragons of sensitivity and consideration that it’s a wonder the poor guys can perform at all.  They’ll make heroines writhe, moan, weep, cry out, thrash their heads, flail their limbs, and see bright stars explode across the velvet night-sky. 

But that’s nothing compared to what love scenes can do to writers.  Ideally, love scenes should flow from the story, a natural extension of the relationship between the hero and heroine.  In reality, they’re often the hardest part of a book to write.  Balancing emotion and passion while finding a suitable vocabulary can be a mind-numbing challenge.  It’s establishing that elusive “comfort zone” not just for the characters, but for the writer as well.  Add to that the pressure (especially for newer writers) from publishers to write more and more explicit sex, and you have a good many writers moaning, writhing, and thrashing their own heads over their keyboards.

Writing historical love scenes can be even more difficult.  Yes, I know, I know, sex has been around as long as people.  The 1960s didn’t invent sex any more than the 1660s did.  But even the most jaded 18th century rake wouldn’t have been exposed to the level of general sexual information that’s commonplace to us today.  (Surely the members of the Hellfire Club would be stunned by the wonders of the internet, and likewise stunned that it’s available to inquisitive wives and daughters, too.)  But how do you write a love scene that’s both faithful to your historic time period, yet sufficiently satisfying to sophisticated modern readers?

For once research, that cure-all for every historical quandary, comes up short.  In the past, "sex" meant gender, as in the Fair Sex.  "Making love" was more courtship than consummation, and "sleeping together" was, well, sleeping.  Only English men mention sex in their private journals and diaries, and then it’s usually sex as sport or conquest, with emphasis on how often and how impressive the performance was. Giacomo Casanova was more forthcoming (a LOT more forthcoming) with details, but then he was Italian, and hardly representative of the stalwart English lords who currently predominate historical romances. 

English ladies remain mute on the subject in their own writings, or use so many allusions to Venus or Cupid that it’s impossible to tell exactly what happened.  (Be honest: before the professor explained it, did you realize that the “little death” you kept reading about in that Elizabethan Poetry class meant an orgasm?) Even Fanny Hill was really a man, and besides, I can’t see any of us referring to a man’s “sweet dart of love” or worse, the “engine of maiden’s destruction” without earning a big, fat, red-penciled query in the margin of the manuscript.

In some ways, it’s been a relief for me to write novels like Duchess and Royal Harlot.  No oneAfter_painting_3 expects Lady Castlemaine to use euphemisms, and she doesn’t.  (whoo-boy, but she doesn’t.) But I still have to wrestle with the love-scene-beast in my Miranda Jarrett historicals, and it never gets any easier.  Every couple is different, and finding that magical, elusive mix of love and passion, tenderness and hotness, humor and devotion and discovery is as rare in writing as it is in life.

So what about you?  If you’re a writer, do you find love scenes a trial or a joy?  If you’re a reader, how much information is too much?  Do you look forward to love scenes as the best part of a love story, or would you rather writers could once again close the bedroom door?

The two pictures illustrating this blog are details from a pair of paintings by William Hogarth (1697-1764) from the Fitzwilliam Museum, University of Cambridge. Aptly named “Before” and “After”, the paintings show that sometimes one (or two) pictures really are worth the proverbial thousand words.

100 thoughts on “Finding the, Uh, Good Parts”

  1. I love this blog. Sometimes I don’t even want to read the sex scenes the poor author slaved over, because really, been there, done that. Especially when the kiss goes on for pages—who is that patient? And the euphemisms, shudder. I’ve read lists of common slang from the period (grotto and gristle come to mind, unfortunately).
    In my own writing I try to be as vague as possible and leave much to the reader’s imagination, which definitely goes against today’s trends. But there’s a lot of variation to my vagueness.
    During the summer, my daughter worked in an island sandwich/gift shop with a rack of popular paperbacks for those who were tired of sailing and socializing. During lulls in the store, the kids used to take turns reading the salient passages. She has begged me not to be as ridiculous as the stuff they all read aloud!

    Reply
  2. I love this blog. Sometimes I don’t even want to read the sex scenes the poor author slaved over, because really, been there, done that. Especially when the kiss goes on for pages—who is that patient? And the euphemisms, shudder. I’ve read lists of common slang from the period (grotto and gristle come to mind, unfortunately).
    In my own writing I try to be as vague as possible and leave much to the reader’s imagination, which definitely goes against today’s trends. But there’s a lot of variation to my vagueness.
    During the summer, my daughter worked in an island sandwich/gift shop with a rack of popular paperbacks for those who were tired of sailing and socializing. During lulls in the store, the kids used to take turns reading the salient passages. She has begged me not to be as ridiculous as the stuff they all read aloud!

    Reply
  3. I love this blog. Sometimes I don’t even want to read the sex scenes the poor author slaved over, because really, been there, done that. Especially when the kiss goes on for pages—who is that patient? And the euphemisms, shudder. I’ve read lists of common slang from the period (grotto and gristle come to mind, unfortunately).
    In my own writing I try to be as vague as possible and leave much to the reader’s imagination, which definitely goes against today’s trends. But there’s a lot of variation to my vagueness.
    During the summer, my daughter worked in an island sandwich/gift shop with a rack of popular paperbacks for those who were tired of sailing and socializing. During lulls in the store, the kids used to take turns reading the salient passages. She has begged me not to be as ridiculous as the stuff they all read aloud!

    Reply
  4. I love this blog. Sometimes I don’t even want to read the sex scenes the poor author slaved over, because really, been there, done that. Especially when the kiss goes on for pages—who is that patient? And the euphemisms, shudder. I’ve read lists of common slang from the period (grotto and gristle come to mind, unfortunately).
    In my own writing I try to be as vague as possible and leave much to the reader’s imagination, which definitely goes against today’s trends. But there’s a lot of variation to my vagueness.
    During the summer, my daughter worked in an island sandwich/gift shop with a rack of popular paperbacks for those who were tired of sailing and socializing. During lulls in the store, the kids used to take turns reading the salient passages. She has begged me not to be as ridiculous as the stuff they all read aloud!

    Reply
  5. Oh, Maggie, I know what you mean about the “dramatic recitations”! Once I was doing a booksigning with several other romance writers in a mall store. The store had decorated the table with big signs proclaiming “Find Love Here Today!” which, as you can imagine, were freely misinterpreted by passing shoppers.
    One idiot man (there’s always one) picked a book from the table and declared he could find the “dirty parts” faster than anyone. He could, and he did, and then proceeded to read the passage out loud in a piercing falsetto that drew a small crowd. We writers did all we could to shut him up, as did the bookseller, short of calling mall security. Nothing worked until he was done, and then he recieved a round of applause. None of his audience bought books.
    It was AWFUL.

    Reply
  6. Oh, Maggie, I know what you mean about the “dramatic recitations”! Once I was doing a booksigning with several other romance writers in a mall store. The store had decorated the table with big signs proclaiming “Find Love Here Today!” which, as you can imagine, were freely misinterpreted by passing shoppers.
    One idiot man (there’s always one) picked a book from the table and declared he could find the “dirty parts” faster than anyone. He could, and he did, and then proceeded to read the passage out loud in a piercing falsetto that drew a small crowd. We writers did all we could to shut him up, as did the bookseller, short of calling mall security. Nothing worked until he was done, and then he recieved a round of applause. None of his audience bought books.
    It was AWFUL.

    Reply
  7. Oh, Maggie, I know what you mean about the “dramatic recitations”! Once I was doing a booksigning with several other romance writers in a mall store. The store had decorated the table with big signs proclaiming “Find Love Here Today!” which, as you can imagine, were freely misinterpreted by passing shoppers.
    One idiot man (there’s always one) picked a book from the table and declared he could find the “dirty parts” faster than anyone. He could, and he did, and then proceeded to read the passage out loud in a piercing falsetto that drew a small crowd. We writers did all we could to shut him up, as did the bookseller, short of calling mall security. Nothing worked until he was done, and then he recieved a round of applause. None of his audience bought books.
    It was AWFUL.

    Reply
  8. Oh, Maggie, I know what you mean about the “dramatic recitations”! Once I was doing a booksigning with several other romance writers in a mall store. The store had decorated the table with big signs proclaiming “Find Love Here Today!” which, as you can imagine, were freely misinterpreted by passing shoppers.
    One idiot man (there’s always one) picked a book from the table and declared he could find the “dirty parts” faster than anyone. He could, and he did, and then proceeded to read the passage out loud in a piercing falsetto that drew a small crowd. We writers did all we could to shut him up, as did the bookseller, short of calling mall security. Nothing worked until he was done, and then he recieved a round of applause. None of his audience bought books.
    It was AWFUL.

    Reply
  9. I like really hot sex scenes, but they need to be part of the development of the relationship rather than an end in themselves. For example, I thought that the scene after John and Sarah Churchill were married was very good. It conveyed the urgency that they felt after waiting so long for the consumation of the marriage.
    ***********SPOILER*************
    Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?
    I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?
    I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?

    Reply
  10. I like really hot sex scenes, but they need to be part of the development of the relationship rather than an end in themselves. For example, I thought that the scene after John and Sarah Churchill were married was very good. It conveyed the urgency that they felt after waiting so long for the consumation of the marriage.
    ***********SPOILER*************
    Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?
    I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?
    I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?

    Reply
  11. I like really hot sex scenes, but they need to be part of the development of the relationship rather than an end in themselves. For example, I thought that the scene after John and Sarah Churchill were married was very good. It conveyed the urgency that they felt after waiting so long for the consumation of the marriage.
    ***********SPOILER*************
    Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?
    I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?
    I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?

    Reply
  12. I like really hot sex scenes, but they need to be part of the development of the relationship rather than an end in themselves. For example, I thought that the scene after John and Sarah Churchill were married was very good. It conveyed the urgency that they felt after waiting so long for the consumation of the marriage.
    ***********SPOILER*************
    Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?
    I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?
    I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?

    Reply
  13. I’m in favour of love scenes if it rings true. If thats what it feels like they would have done at that point in the story, rather than the author feeling like they should put one here about now. The “raging bulls” and “paragons of sensitivity” are laughable when done by numbers but when backed up by real characterisation and storyline it does work.
    I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking. After all we all know the basic anatomy. Unless they’re doing something particularly outlandish or humorous, I’m more concerned with how it advances the plot and relationship. Like a song in a musical!

    Reply
  14. I’m in favour of love scenes if it rings true. If thats what it feels like they would have done at that point in the story, rather than the author feeling like they should put one here about now. The “raging bulls” and “paragons of sensitivity” are laughable when done by numbers but when backed up by real characterisation and storyline it does work.
    I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking. After all we all know the basic anatomy. Unless they’re doing something particularly outlandish or humorous, I’m more concerned with how it advances the plot and relationship. Like a song in a musical!

    Reply
  15. I’m in favour of love scenes if it rings true. If thats what it feels like they would have done at that point in the story, rather than the author feeling like they should put one here about now. The “raging bulls” and “paragons of sensitivity” are laughable when done by numbers but when backed up by real characterisation and storyline it does work.
    I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking. After all we all know the basic anatomy. Unless they’re doing something particularly outlandish or humorous, I’m more concerned with how it advances the plot and relationship. Like a song in a musical!

    Reply
  16. I’m in favour of love scenes if it rings true. If thats what it feels like they would have done at that point in the story, rather than the author feeling like they should put one here about now. The “raging bulls” and “paragons of sensitivity” are laughable when done by numbers but when backed up by real characterisation and storyline it does work.
    I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking. After all we all know the basic anatomy. Unless they’re doing something particularly outlandish or humorous, I’m more concerned with how it advances the plot and relationship. Like a song in a musical!

    Reply
  17. As a writer, I find those scenes the most difficult to write and usually on my first run through, I close the door after some foreplay and go back to it at the end. And agonize – as you said, trying to balance the emotion and the physical act, while staying true to the period AND avoiding purple prose is, well, hair-pulling much of the time.
    Everyone once in a while, though, my characters take the whole thing from my hands and just go for it and I’m just along for the ride, taking notes, so to speak.
    As a reader, I’ll confess, I mostly skip those scenes. Every once in a while I don’t, but they’re not why I read the book. But I’m guessing, I’m the exception, not the rule.
    And now, I must be off to see what the kitten is so plaintively crying about!

    Reply
  18. As a writer, I find those scenes the most difficult to write and usually on my first run through, I close the door after some foreplay and go back to it at the end. And agonize – as you said, trying to balance the emotion and the physical act, while staying true to the period AND avoiding purple prose is, well, hair-pulling much of the time.
    Everyone once in a while, though, my characters take the whole thing from my hands and just go for it and I’m just along for the ride, taking notes, so to speak.
    As a reader, I’ll confess, I mostly skip those scenes. Every once in a while I don’t, but they’re not why I read the book. But I’m guessing, I’m the exception, not the rule.
    And now, I must be off to see what the kitten is so plaintively crying about!

    Reply
  19. As a writer, I find those scenes the most difficult to write and usually on my first run through, I close the door after some foreplay and go back to it at the end. And agonize – as you said, trying to balance the emotion and the physical act, while staying true to the period AND avoiding purple prose is, well, hair-pulling much of the time.
    Everyone once in a while, though, my characters take the whole thing from my hands and just go for it and I’m just along for the ride, taking notes, so to speak.
    As a reader, I’ll confess, I mostly skip those scenes. Every once in a while I don’t, but they’re not why I read the book. But I’m guessing, I’m the exception, not the rule.
    And now, I must be off to see what the kitten is so plaintively crying about!

    Reply
  20. As a writer, I find those scenes the most difficult to write and usually on my first run through, I close the door after some foreplay and go back to it at the end. And agonize – as you said, trying to balance the emotion and the physical act, while staying true to the period AND avoiding purple prose is, well, hair-pulling much of the time.
    Everyone once in a while, though, my characters take the whole thing from my hands and just go for it and I’m just along for the ride, taking notes, so to speak.
    As a reader, I’ll confess, I mostly skip those scenes. Every once in a while I don’t, but they’re not why I read the book. But I’m guessing, I’m the exception, not the rule.
    And now, I must be off to see what the kitten is so plaintively crying about!

    Reply
  21. Thanks, Kathy!
    To answer your questions, so another
    *******SPOILER ALERT***************
    “Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?”
    Sarah had worked too hard to get that dukedom to let it disappear at John’s death. Instead she lobbied heavily with her friends in Parliament to have a special (and very unusual) act passed that allowed the title to pass to their eldest daughter. So John’s first successor was Duchess of Marlborough.
    “I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?”
    I’m going to have to assume here, because John didn’t leave any opinions on the subject. But he did encourage the friendship between the two women, and he certainly benefited from it, so I have to guess he treated it the same pragmatic way that the men did whose wives became royal mistresses. Turn a blind eye, and reap the rewards.
    He may also have not considered it adultery. While male homosexuality was still (in theory) a capital offense at the time, lesbians seemed to have been regarded as merely a kind of kinky abberation. There were avowed lesbians among the ladies in waiting, and Sapphic poets were considered racy reading. But that’s just speculation; as I said, I don’t know for certain.
    “I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?”
    Yup. Though there are hints that John may have strayed once or twice, Sarah seems to have been completely (and remarkably, for their time) faithful to him.
    I got to show a very different side of John in ROYAL HARLOT. Apparently while he was perfectly willing to have a long affaire with Barbara Villiers Palmer and to accept great sums of money from her, he never would acknowledge the daughter he fathered with her — though it could have been because he was afraid of what Sarah would say. *g*

    Reply
  22. Thanks, Kathy!
    To answer your questions, so another
    *******SPOILER ALERT***************
    “Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?”
    Sarah had worked too hard to get that dukedom to let it disappear at John’s death. Instead she lobbied heavily with her friends in Parliament to have a special (and very unusual) act passed that allowed the title to pass to their eldest daughter. So John’s first successor was Duchess of Marlborough.
    “I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?”
    I’m going to have to assume here, because John didn’t leave any opinions on the subject. But he did encourage the friendship between the two women, and he certainly benefited from it, so I have to guess he treated it the same pragmatic way that the men did whose wives became royal mistresses. Turn a blind eye, and reap the rewards.
    He may also have not considered it adultery. While male homosexuality was still (in theory) a capital offense at the time, lesbians seemed to have been regarded as merely a kind of kinky abberation. There were avowed lesbians among the ladies in waiting, and Sapphic poets were considered racy reading. But that’s just speculation; as I said, I don’t know for certain.
    “I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?”
    Yup. Though there are hints that John may have strayed once or twice, Sarah seems to have been completely (and remarkably, for their time) faithful to him.
    I got to show a very different side of John in ROYAL HARLOT. Apparently while he was perfectly willing to have a long affaire with Barbara Villiers Palmer and to accept great sums of money from her, he never would acknowledge the daughter he fathered with her — though it could have been because he was afraid of what Sarah would say. *g*

    Reply
  23. Thanks, Kathy!
    To answer your questions, so another
    *******SPOILER ALERT***************
    “Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?”
    Sarah had worked too hard to get that dukedom to let it disappear at John’s death. Instead she lobbied heavily with her friends in Parliament to have a special (and very unusual) act passed that allowed the title to pass to their eldest daughter. So John’s first successor was Duchess of Marlborough.
    “I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?”
    I’m going to have to assume here, because John didn’t leave any opinions on the subject. But he did encourage the friendship between the two women, and he certainly benefited from it, so I have to guess he treated it the same pragmatic way that the men did whose wives became royal mistresses. Turn a blind eye, and reap the rewards.
    He may also have not considered it adultery. While male homosexuality was still (in theory) a capital offense at the time, lesbians seemed to have been regarded as merely a kind of kinky abberation. There were avowed lesbians among the ladies in waiting, and Sapphic poets were considered racy reading. But that’s just speculation; as I said, I don’t know for certain.
    “I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?”
    Yup. Though there are hints that John may have strayed once or twice, Sarah seems to have been completely (and remarkably, for their time) faithful to him.
    I got to show a very different side of John in ROYAL HARLOT. Apparently while he was perfectly willing to have a long affaire with Barbara Villiers Palmer and to accept great sums of money from her, he never would acknowledge the daughter he fathered with her — though it could have been because he was afraid of what Sarah would say. *g*

    Reply
  24. Thanks, Kathy!
    To answer your questions, so another
    *******SPOILER ALERT***************
    “Speaking of the Churchills, I was wondering…. since both of their sons died before providing an heir to carry on the name, how did the name survive into the 20th century?”
    Sarah had worked too hard to get that dukedom to let it disappear at John’s death. Instead she lobbied heavily with her friends in Parliament to have a special (and very unusual) act passed that allowed the title to pass to their eldest daughter. So John’s first successor was Duchess of Marlborough.
    “I also wondered about John’s attitude to the physical relationship of Sarah and Anne. He knew but didn’t care. Was it similar to the the husband of the King’s mistress who focused on how the family benefitted from allowing the liason rather than the shame of being cuckolded?”
    I’m going to have to assume here, because John didn’t leave any opinions on the subject. But he did encourage the friendship between the two women, and he certainly benefited from it, so I have to guess he treated it the same pragmatic way that the men did whose wives became royal mistresses. Turn a blind eye, and reap the rewards.
    He may also have not considered it adultery. While male homosexuality was still (in theory) a capital offense at the time, lesbians seemed to have been regarded as merely a kind of kinky abberation. There were avowed lesbians among the ladies in waiting, and Sapphic poets were considered racy reading. But that’s just speculation; as I said, I don’t know for certain.
    “I did a little googling on John and Sarah and found a report that her youngest child was supposed to have been fathered by someone other than John. Was that part of the slime campaign by her enemies?”
    Yup. Though there are hints that John may have strayed once or twice, Sarah seems to have been completely (and remarkably, for their time) faithful to him.
    I got to show a very different side of John in ROYAL HARLOT. Apparently while he was perfectly willing to have a long affaire with Barbara Villiers Palmer and to accept great sums of money from her, he never would acknowledge the daughter he fathered with her — though it could have been because he was afraid of what Sarah would say. *g*

    Reply
  25. Love scenes need to fit the story, IMO. Basically, I want enough to know how having sex has changed the characters involved, and I can get equally frustrated with a fade-to-black or a very graphic scene, because I’ve seen too many fade-to-blacks that seem to ignore the impact greater intimacy has on the characters and too many graphic scenes that lose the emotional impact in all the physical details.
    But it’s all down to the author’s skill and what fits the story.

    Reply
  26. Love scenes need to fit the story, IMO. Basically, I want enough to know how having sex has changed the characters involved, and I can get equally frustrated with a fade-to-black or a very graphic scene, because I’ve seen too many fade-to-blacks that seem to ignore the impact greater intimacy has on the characters and too many graphic scenes that lose the emotional impact in all the physical details.
    But it’s all down to the author’s skill and what fits the story.

    Reply
  27. Love scenes need to fit the story, IMO. Basically, I want enough to know how having sex has changed the characters involved, and I can get equally frustrated with a fade-to-black or a very graphic scene, because I’ve seen too many fade-to-blacks that seem to ignore the impact greater intimacy has on the characters and too many graphic scenes that lose the emotional impact in all the physical details.
    But it’s all down to the author’s skill and what fits the story.

    Reply
  28. Love scenes need to fit the story, IMO. Basically, I want enough to know how having sex has changed the characters involved, and I can get equally frustrated with a fade-to-black or a very graphic scene, because I’ve seen too many fade-to-blacks that seem to ignore the impact greater intimacy has on the characters and too many graphic scenes that lose the emotional impact in all the physical details.
    But it’s all down to the author’s skill and what fits the story.

    Reply
  29. LOL, Susan! I think this post ought to be basic reading for all RWA members. I, too, often skip pages and pages of passionate prose, since too often authors confuse sex with emotional tension and honey, I’m here to tell ya, they ain’t the same. There was more sex in the passionate longing of Jane and Rochester than in all those pages of rolling around the bed.
    Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off. It should reveal character and emotion and up the ante a little higher. And yeah, that’s really, really tough!

    Reply
  30. LOL, Susan! I think this post ought to be basic reading for all RWA members. I, too, often skip pages and pages of passionate prose, since too often authors confuse sex with emotional tension and honey, I’m here to tell ya, they ain’t the same. There was more sex in the passionate longing of Jane and Rochester than in all those pages of rolling around the bed.
    Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off. It should reveal character and emotion and up the ante a little higher. And yeah, that’s really, really tough!

    Reply
  31. LOL, Susan! I think this post ought to be basic reading for all RWA members. I, too, often skip pages and pages of passionate prose, since too often authors confuse sex with emotional tension and honey, I’m here to tell ya, they ain’t the same. There was more sex in the passionate longing of Jane and Rochester than in all those pages of rolling around the bed.
    Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off. It should reveal character and emotion and up the ante a little higher. And yeah, that’s really, really tough!

    Reply
  32. LOL, Susan! I think this post ought to be basic reading for all RWA members. I, too, often skip pages and pages of passionate prose, since too often authors confuse sex with emotional tension and honey, I’m here to tell ya, they ain’t the same. There was more sex in the passionate longing of Jane and Rochester than in all those pages of rolling around the bed.
    Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off. It should reveal character and emotion and up the ante a little higher. And yeah, that’s really, really tough!

    Reply
  33. And it’s very thoughtful of Typepad to give me an opportunity to “preview” my comment so I can see all the errors, and then not give me the opportunity to go back and edit. What’s with that? Am I missing something?

    Reply
  34. And it’s very thoughtful of Typepad to give me an opportunity to “preview” my comment so I can see all the errors, and then not give me the opportunity to go back and edit. What’s with that? Am I missing something?

    Reply
  35. And it’s very thoughtful of Typepad to give me an opportunity to “preview” my comment so I can see all the errors, and then not give me the opportunity to go back and edit. What’s with that? Am I missing something?

    Reply
  36. And it’s very thoughtful of Typepad to give me an opportunity to “preview” my comment so I can see all the errors, and then not give me the opportunity to go back and edit. What’s with that? Am I missing something?

    Reply
  37. Sure, I like love scenes as much as the next person, but like already mentioned there has to be a reason, not just to throw in a sex scene to have a sex scene. But I think I enjoy the lead up to it more, so if it’s actually shown or not, it’s okay with me. I am a person though who thinks there is such a thing as too much, but that’s just me. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  38. Sure, I like love scenes as much as the next person, but like already mentioned there has to be a reason, not just to throw in a sex scene to have a sex scene. But I think I enjoy the lead up to it more, so if it’s actually shown or not, it’s okay with me. I am a person though who thinks there is such a thing as too much, but that’s just me. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  39. Sure, I like love scenes as much as the next person, but like already mentioned there has to be a reason, not just to throw in a sex scene to have a sex scene. But I think I enjoy the lead up to it more, so if it’s actually shown or not, it’s okay with me. I am a person though who thinks there is such a thing as too much, but that’s just me. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  40. Sure, I like love scenes as much as the next person, but like already mentioned there has to be a reason, not just to throw in a sex scene to have a sex scene. But I think I enjoy the lead up to it more, so if it’s actually shown or not, it’s okay with me. I am a person though who thinks there is such a thing as too much, but that’s just me. 🙂
    Lois

    Reply
  41. “Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off.”
    LOL, Pat! I agree with you agreeing with me…and with everyone else. Too often it seems like writers feel there has to be a “quota” of love scenes, and they’re in there whether they move the story forward or not.
    You know you’re in a bad place, plot-wise, when you come across a love scene between the hero and his soon-to-be-discarded mistress, right before he meets the heroine. If that’s not gratuitous…!

    Reply
  42. “Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off.”
    LOL, Pat! I agree with you agreeing with me…and with everyone else. Too often it seems like writers feel there has to be a “quota” of love scenes, and they’re in there whether they move the story forward or not.
    You know you’re in a bad place, plot-wise, when you come across a love scene between the hero and his soon-to-be-discarded mistress, right before he meets the heroine. If that’s not gratuitous…!

    Reply
  43. “Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off.”
    LOL, Pat! I agree with you agreeing with me…and with everyone else. Too often it seems like writers feel there has to be a “quota” of love scenes, and they’re in there whether they move the story forward or not.
    You know you’re in a bad place, plot-wise, when you come across a love scene between the hero and his soon-to-be-discarded mistress, right before he meets the heroine. If that’s not gratuitous…!

    Reply
  44. “Like every other scene in a book, a sex scene should have a reason for existing, and that shouldn’t be just to get the reader’s rocks off.”
    LOL, Pat! I agree with you agreeing with me…and with everyone else. Too often it seems like writers feel there has to be a “quota” of love scenes, and they’re in there whether they move the story forward or not.
    You know you’re in a bad place, plot-wise, when you come across a love scene between the hero and his soon-to-be-discarded mistress, right before he meets the heroine. If that’s not gratuitous…!

    Reply
  45. BTW — As a Public Service Announement–
    Happy Birthday, Lord Byron!
    Yes, on 22 January, 1788, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron was born in London.
    Celebrate however you feel necessary. *g*

    Reply
  46. BTW — As a Public Service Announement–
    Happy Birthday, Lord Byron!
    Yes, on 22 January, 1788, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron was born in London.
    Celebrate however you feel necessary. *g*

    Reply
  47. BTW — As a Public Service Announement–
    Happy Birthday, Lord Byron!
    Yes, on 22 January, 1788, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron was born in London.
    Celebrate however you feel necessary. *g*

    Reply
  48. BTW — As a Public Service Announement–
    Happy Birthday, Lord Byron!
    Yes, on 22 January, 1788, George Gordon Byron, 6th Baron Byron was born in London.
    Celebrate however you feel necessary. *g*

    Reply
  49. Francois said… “I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking.”
    I’ll second that! As a reader, I want my emotions touched, all of them, from the beginning, not my sensitivities insulted. Lead me on, lead me away and bring me back. Slowly. From page 1. And I like it when the h/h exchange verbal utterances when… well, you know.
    As a writer… haven’t been there. Yet. And I’m too much of a ‘virgin’ to have a full and proper appreciation of the fear. But, in true WordWenches style, I’m getting there.
    Nina, abundantly blessed by WWs.

    Reply
  50. Francois said… “I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking.”
    I’ll second that! As a reader, I want my emotions touched, all of them, from the beginning, not my sensitivities insulted. Lead me on, lead me away and bring me back. Slowly. From page 1. And I like it when the h/h exchange verbal utterances when… well, you know.
    As a writer… haven’t been there. Yet. And I’m too much of a ‘virgin’ to have a full and proper appreciation of the fear. But, in true WordWenches style, I’m getting there.
    Nina, abundantly blessed by WWs.

    Reply
  51. Francois said… “I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking.”
    I’ll second that! As a reader, I want my emotions touched, all of them, from the beginning, not my sensitivities insulted. Lead me on, lead me away and bring me back. Slowly. From page 1. And I like it when the h/h exchange verbal utterances when… well, you know.
    As a writer… haven’t been there. Yet. And I’m too much of a ‘virgin’ to have a full and proper appreciation of the fear. But, in true WordWenches style, I’m getting there.
    Nina, abundantly blessed by WWs.

    Reply
  52. Francois said… “I do have to make a plea for less anatomy and more talking.”
    I’ll second that! As a reader, I want my emotions touched, all of them, from the beginning, not my sensitivities insulted. Lead me on, lead me away and bring me back. Slowly. From page 1. And I like it when the h/h exchange verbal utterances when… well, you know.
    As a writer… haven’t been there. Yet. And I’m too much of a ‘virgin’ to have a full and proper appreciation of the fear. But, in true WordWenches style, I’m getting there.
    Nina, abundantly blessed by WWs.

    Reply
  53. I’m surely missing an important piece of information about naming in the time of the early Churchills. Their eldest daughter was married to Lord Godolphin (I think), so wouldn’t her children have his name? I could understand how the title of Duchess passed to the daughter, but not the family name “Churchill.” Sorry to be so dense.

    Reply
  54. I’m surely missing an important piece of information about naming in the time of the early Churchills. Their eldest daughter was married to Lord Godolphin (I think), so wouldn’t her children have his name? I could understand how the title of Duchess passed to the daughter, but not the family name “Churchill.” Sorry to be so dense.

    Reply
  55. I’m surely missing an important piece of information about naming in the time of the early Churchills. Their eldest daughter was married to Lord Godolphin (I think), so wouldn’t her children have his name? I could understand how the title of Duchess passed to the daughter, but not the family name “Churchill.” Sorry to be so dense.

    Reply
  56. I’m surely missing an important piece of information about naming in the time of the early Churchills. Their eldest daughter was married to Lord Godolphin (I think), so wouldn’t her children have his name? I could understand how the title of Duchess passed to the daughter, but not the family name “Churchill.” Sorry to be so dense.

    Reply
  57. The most hilarious euphemism I’ve ever come across in a historical was “his marble hard man-root.”
    I laughed so hard I choked and couldn’t finish the book. I’ve since become rather fond of the phrase, asking my critique partners to check my work for any “marble hard man-root moments.”
    Sex is natural, so I like sex scenes that read as if they’re happening naturally, like anything else that happens in the book.
    A glass of wine and a lovely bath before sitting down to write a love scene really helps me reduce the painful thrashing, that is until I run out of normal sounding alternatives for a word like “hands.” One just can’t use “paws,” “mitts,” or even “digits!”
    Jane

    Reply
  58. The most hilarious euphemism I’ve ever come across in a historical was “his marble hard man-root.”
    I laughed so hard I choked and couldn’t finish the book. I’ve since become rather fond of the phrase, asking my critique partners to check my work for any “marble hard man-root moments.”
    Sex is natural, so I like sex scenes that read as if they’re happening naturally, like anything else that happens in the book.
    A glass of wine and a lovely bath before sitting down to write a love scene really helps me reduce the painful thrashing, that is until I run out of normal sounding alternatives for a word like “hands.” One just can’t use “paws,” “mitts,” or even “digits!”
    Jane

    Reply
  59. The most hilarious euphemism I’ve ever come across in a historical was “his marble hard man-root.”
    I laughed so hard I choked and couldn’t finish the book. I’ve since become rather fond of the phrase, asking my critique partners to check my work for any “marble hard man-root moments.”
    Sex is natural, so I like sex scenes that read as if they’re happening naturally, like anything else that happens in the book.
    A glass of wine and a lovely bath before sitting down to write a love scene really helps me reduce the painful thrashing, that is until I run out of normal sounding alternatives for a word like “hands.” One just can’t use “paws,” “mitts,” or even “digits!”
    Jane

    Reply
  60. The most hilarious euphemism I’ve ever come across in a historical was “his marble hard man-root.”
    I laughed so hard I choked and couldn’t finish the book. I’ve since become rather fond of the phrase, asking my critique partners to check my work for any “marble hard man-root moments.”
    Sex is natural, so I like sex scenes that read as if they’re happening naturally, like anything else that happens in the book.
    A glass of wine and a lovely bath before sitting down to write a love scene really helps me reduce the painful thrashing, that is until I run out of normal sounding alternatives for a word like “hands.” One just can’t use “paws,” “mitts,” or even “digits!”
    Jane

    Reply
  61. Kathy–
    I’ve got three books and two family trees spread out before me to sort out the Churchill family, and I hope with all that I’ll be able to come up with a coherent answer for you.
    John & Sarah’s eldest daughter Henrietta became 2nd Duchess of Marlborough for “dynastic” purposes. Her husband, Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, had no claim to the Marlborough dukedom, but their son, William, Marqess of Blandford, should have become the next duke. Sadly, he died before his mother, so at her death, the title went to a nephew, Charles Spencer (son of John & Sarah’s second daughter Anne), who was already 5th Earl of Sunderland. The next several Dukes were all Spencers, until the 5th Duke, George (1766-1840) took the additional name of Churchill, restoring the connection. Whew!
    For the record, the current Duke is the 11th. His grandson (b. 1992) is the present Earl of Sunderland, and his name –– George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill –– manages nicely to bring it all full circle, doesn’t it?

    Reply
  62. Kathy–
    I’ve got three books and two family trees spread out before me to sort out the Churchill family, and I hope with all that I’ll be able to come up with a coherent answer for you.
    John & Sarah’s eldest daughter Henrietta became 2nd Duchess of Marlborough for “dynastic” purposes. Her husband, Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, had no claim to the Marlborough dukedom, but their son, William, Marqess of Blandford, should have become the next duke. Sadly, he died before his mother, so at her death, the title went to a nephew, Charles Spencer (son of John & Sarah’s second daughter Anne), who was already 5th Earl of Sunderland. The next several Dukes were all Spencers, until the 5th Duke, George (1766-1840) took the additional name of Churchill, restoring the connection. Whew!
    For the record, the current Duke is the 11th. His grandson (b. 1992) is the present Earl of Sunderland, and his name –– George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill –– manages nicely to bring it all full circle, doesn’t it?

    Reply
  63. Kathy–
    I’ve got three books and two family trees spread out before me to sort out the Churchill family, and I hope with all that I’ll be able to come up with a coherent answer for you.
    John & Sarah’s eldest daughter Henrietta became 2nd Duchess of Marlborough for “dynastic” purposes. Her husband, Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, had no claim to the Marlborough dukedom, but their son, William, Marqess of Blandford, should have become the next duke. Sadly, he died before his mother, so at her death, the title went to a nephew, Charles Spencer (son of John & Sarah’s second daughter Anne), who was already 5th Earl of Sunderland. The next several Dukes were all Spencers, until the 5th Duke, George (1766-1840) took the additional name of Churchill, restoring the connection. Whew!
    For the record, the current Duke is the 11th. His grandson (b. 1992) is the present Earl of Sunderland, and his name –– George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill –– manages nicely to bring it all full circle, doesn’t it?

    Reply
  64. Kathy–
    I’ve got three books and two family trees spread out before me to sort out the Churchill family, and I hope with all that I’ll be able to come up with a coherent answer for you.
    John & Sarah’s eldest daughter Henrietta became 2nd Duchess of Marlborough for “dynastic” purposes. Her husband, Francis, 2nd Earl of Godolphin, had no claim to the Marlborough dukedom, but their son, William, Marqess of Blandford, should have become the next duke. Sadly, he died before his mother, so at her death, the title went to a nephew, Charles Spencer (son of John & Sarah’s second daughter Anne), who was already 5th Earl of Sunderland. The next several Dukes were all Spencers, until the 5th Duke, George (1766-1840) took the additional name of Churchill, restoring the connection. Whew!
    For the record, the current Duke is the 11th. His grandson (b. 1992) is the present Earl of Sunderland, and his name –– George John Godolphin Spencer-Churchill –– manages nicely to bring it all full circle, doesn’t it?

    Reply
  65. Jane —
    I know EXACTLy what you mean about striving for “other” words. I don’t know why in a love scene this becomes such a trial — when we write about, say, riding a horse, we have no problem using “horse” over and over, but somehow when describing a kiss, the number of times you type “lips” and “mouth” seems to become a real stumbling block.
    But “digits” — oh, my, that does sound peculiar! “They touched, digit to digit.” Nope, ‘fraid that just doesn’t convey the proper mood. *G*

    Reply
  66. Jane —
    I know EXACTLy what you mean about striving for “other” words. I don’t know why in a love scene this becomes such a trial — when we write about, say, riding a horse, we have no problem using “horse” over and over, but somehow when describing a kiss, the number of times you type “lips” and “mouth” seems to become a real stumbling block.
    But “digits” — oh, my, that does sound peculiar! “They touched, digit to digit.” Nope, ‘fraid that just doesn’t convey the proper mood. *G*

    Reply
  67. Jane —
    I know EXACTLy what you mean about striving for “other” words. I don’t know why in a love scene this becomes such a trial — when we write about, say, riding a horse, we have no problem using “horse” over and over, but somehow when describing a kiss, the number of times you type “lips” and “mouth” seems to become a real stumbling block.
    But “digits” — oh, my, that does sound peculiar! “They touched, digit to digit.” Nope, ‘fraid that just doesn’t convey the proper mood. *G*

    Reply
  68. Jane —
    I know EXACTLy what you mean about striving for “other” words. I don’t know why in a love scene this becomes such a trial — when we write about, say, riding a horse, we have no problem using “horse” over and over, but somehow when describing a kiss, the number of times you type “lips” and “mouth” seems to become a real stumbling block.
    But “digits” — oh, my, that does sound peculiar! “They touched, digit to digit.” Nope, ‘fraid that just doesn’t convey the proper mood. *G*

    Reply
  69. Excellent post. I love reading here.
    I really enjoy reading and writing (good!) love scenes. It is challenging to come up with fresh details and fresh movements and all that, but this is important stuff.
    Great references for period novels: Sex in History, Reah Tanahill, of course. My favorite: The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, by Robert Darnton.

    Reply
  70. Excellent post. I love reading here.
    I really enjoy reading and writing (good!) love scenes. It is challenging to come up with fresh details and fresh movements and all that, but this is important stuff.
    Great references for period novels: Sex in History, Reah Tanahill, of course. My favorite: The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, by Robert Darnton.

    Reply
  71. Excellent post. I love reading here.
    I really enjoy reading and writing (good!) love scenes. It is challenging to come up with fresh details and fresh movements and all that, but this is important stuff.
    Great references for period novels: Sex in History, Reah Tanahill, of course. My favorite: The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, by Robert Darnton.

    Reply
  72. Excellent post. I love reading here.
    I really enjoy reading and writing (good!) love scenes. It is challenging to come up with fresh details and fresh movements and all that, but this is important stuff.
    Great references for period novels: Sex in History, Reah Tanahill, of course. My favorite: The Forbidden Bestsellers of Pre-Revolutionary France, by Robert Darnton.

    Reply
  73. Thank you so much. Your explanantion makes it much clearer.
    Was that Lord Godolphin the same one who brought arabian bloodlines into the thoroughbreds of England? The timing is about right.

    Reply
  74. Thank you so much. Your explanantion makes it much clearer.
    Was that Lord Godolphin the same one who brought arabian bloodlines into the thoroughbreds of England? The timing is about right.

    Reply
  75. Thank you so much. Your explanantion makes it much clearer.
    Was that Lord Godolphin the same one who brought arabian bloodlines into the thoroughbreds of England? The timing is about right.

    Reply
  76. Thank you so much. Your explanantion makes it much clearer.
    Was that Lord Godolphin the same one who brought arabian bloodlines into the thoroughbreds of England? The timing is about right.

    Reply
  77. Kathy–
    Same Lord Godolphin. Francis, second earl. (This brought back all sorts of very distant memories of Marguerite Henry “horse books” that I read as a child, where the horses were always heroic ) I believe the Godolphin Barb was first a diplomatic gift to Louis XV, then scorned and demoted to a cart-horse in Paris, rescued and eventually sold to the Godolphin stud, where he became one of the “big three” of modern thoroughbred horses.
    On the subject of animal breeds , one of my daughter’s friends recently got a King Charles spaniel, the cutest little dog imaginable. The breed is named after Charles II, and one of the marking patterns is named in honor of John and Sarah, who bred the dogs, too. There’s a great story about how Sarah was supposedly waiting for news of the John at Battle of Blenhiem, and compulsively stroking the head of one of her female dogs in her lap. When the dog’s next litter was born, all the puppies were marked with a reddish patch on their foreheads as a sign of Sarah’s concern, and they’re now called “Blenheims.”
    Now, if I could only figure out a way to justify one of those dogs as a research tax deduction to the IRS…

    Reply
  78. Kathy–
    Same Lord Godolphin. Francis, second earl. (This brought back all sorts of very distant memories of Marguerite Henry “horse books” that I read as a child, where the horses were always heroic ) I believe the Godolphin Barb was first a diplomatic gift to Louis XV, then scorned and demoted to a cart-horse in Paris, rescued and eventually sold to the Godolphin stud, where he became one of the “big three” of modern thoroughbred horses.
    On the subject of animal breeds , one of my daughter’s friends recently got a King Charles spaniel, the cutest little dog imaginable. The breed is named after Charles II, and one of the marking patterns is named in honor of John and Sarah, who bred the dogs, too. There’s a great story about how Sarah was supposedly waiting for news of the John at Battle of Blenhiem, and compulsively stroking the head of one of her female dogs in her lap. When the dog’s next litter was born, all the puppies were marked with a reddish patch on their foreheads as a sign of Sarah’s concern, and they’re now called “Blenheims.”
    Now, if I could only figure out a way to justify one of those dogs as a research tax deduction to the IRS…

    Reply
  79. Kathy–
    Same Lord Godolphin. Francis, second earl. (This brought back all sorts of very distant memories of Marguerite Henry “horse books” that I read as a child, where the horses were always heroic ) I believe the Godolphin Barb was first a diplomatic gift to Louis XV, then scorned and demoted to a cart-horse in Paris, rescued and eventually sold to the Godolphin stud, where he became one of the “big three” of modern thoroughbred horses.
    On the subject of animal breeds , one of my daughter’s friends recently got a King Charles spaniel, the cutest little dog imaginable. The breed is named after Charles II, and one of the marking patterns is named in honor of John and Sarah, who bred the dogs, too. There’s a great story about how Sarah was supposedly waiting for news of the John at Battle of Blenhiem, and compulsively stroking the head of one of her female dogs in her lap. When the dog’s next litter was born, all the puppies were marked with a reddish patch on their foreheads as a sign of Sarah’s concern, and they’re now called “Blenheims.”
    Now, if I could only figure out a way to justify one of those dogs as a research tax deduction to the IRS…

    Reply
  80. Kathy–
    Same Lord Godolphin. Francis, second earl. (This brought back all sorts of very distant memories of Marguerite Henry “horse books” that I read as a child, where the horses were always heroic ) I believe the Godolphin Barb was first a diplomatic gift to Louis XV, then scorned and demoted to a cart-horse in Paris, rescued and eventually sold to the Godolphin stud, where he became one of the “big three” of modern thoroughbred horses.
    On the subject of animal breeds , one of my daughter’s friends recently got a King Charles spaniel, the cutest little dog imaginable. The breed is named after Charles II, and one of the marking patterns is named in honor of John and Sarah, who bred the dogs, too. There’s a great story about how Sarah was supposedly waiting for news of the John at Battle of Blenhiem, and compulsively stroking the head of one of her female dogs in her lap. When the dog’s next litter was born, all the puppies were marked with a reddish patch on their foreheads as a sign of Sarah’s concern, and they’re now called “Blenheims.”
    Now, if I could only figure out a way to justify one of those dogs as a research tax deduction to the IRS…

    Reply
  81. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I read your fabulous post yesterday but couldn’t get the time to write a comment. . . It’s hard to write down my thoughts without straying into the Land of Too Much Information, but I’ll give it a try!
    Like many of the other commenters, I think “love scenes” shouldn’t be simply gratuitious or “sex for sex’s sake.” Love scenes should unfold on the same terms as other scenes in the book–moving the story forward, or serving some narrative or character-establishing purpose. Perhaps this is in keeping with my general view of sex as not simply “a fun bodily function” (though of course it is that) but that it involves mind, body and soul in a profound and intimate expression of love for another person. Sex need not always be serious–it’s fun, and funny, and awkward sometimes–but it isn’t to be taken lightly either. So I expect romance writers–especially writers of historicals– to deal with sex in a way that is honest, passionate, creative–but respectful of its power.
    Perhaps this is one reason that I enjoy historicals so much more than contemporaries–because sexuality and its physical/emotional consequences are taken more seriously by the virginal/shy/inexperienced heroines, and that’s more reflective of my own life experience/world view.
    I’m in favor of anatomy lessons and positional variety (very educational–smile), but I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice–to overcome embarrassment, to figure out what you and your partner like, to discover just how you best fit together, to get all the nerve endings firing right. I loved one of Carla Kelly’s books (was it “The Wedding Journey”?) where the Heroine didn’t “go up in flames” the First Time but (with the enthusiastic participation of the Hero) worked up to it (okay, it was like the Third Time). That seemed very real to me, and passionate, and sweet.
    Melinda

    Reply
  82. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I read your fabulous post yesterday but couldn’t get the time to write a comment. . . It’s hard to write down my thoughts without straying into the Land of Too Much Information, but I’ll give it a try!
    Like many of the other commenters, I think “love scenes” shouldn’t be simply gratuitious or “sex for sex’s sake.” Love scenes should unfold on the same terms as other scenes in the book–moving the story forward, or serving some narrative or character-establishing purpose. Perhaps this is in keeping with my general view of sex as not simply “a fun bodily function” (though of course it is that) but that it involves mind, body and soul in a profound and intimate expression of love for another person. Sex need not always be serious–it’s fun, and funny, and awkward sometimes–but it isn’t to be taken lightly either. So I expect romance writers–especially writers of historicals– to deal with sex in a way that is honest, passionate, creative–but respectful of its power.
    Perhaps this is one reason that I enjoy historicals so much more than contemporaries–because sexuality and its physical/emotional consequences are taken more seriously by the virginal/shy/inexperienced heroines, and that’s more reflective of my own life experience/world view.
    I’m in favor of anatomy lessons and positional variety (very educational–smile), but I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice–to overcome embarrassment, to figure out what you and your partner like, to discover just how you best fit together, to get all the nerve endings firing right. I loved one of Carla Kelly’s books (was it “The Wedding Journey”?) where the Heroine didn’t “go up in flames” the First Time but (with the enthusiastic participation of the Hero) worked up to it (okay, it was like the Third Time). That seemed very real to me, and passionate, and sweet.
    Melinda

    Reply
  83. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I read your fabulous post yesterday but couldn’t get the time to write a comment. . . It’s hard to write down my thoughts without straying into the Land of Too Much Information, but I’ll give it a try!
    Like many of the other commenters, I think “love scenes” shouldn’t be simply gratuitious or “sex for sex’s sake.” Love scenes should unfold on the same terms as other scenes in the book–moving the story forward, or serving some narrative or character-establishing purpose. Perhaps this is in keeping with my general view of sex as not simply “a fun bodily function” (though of course it is that) but that it involves mind, body and soul in a profound and intimate expression of love for another person. Sex need not always be serious–it’s fun, and funny, and awkward sometimes–but it isn’t to be taken lightly either. So I expect romance writers–especially writers of historicals– to deal with sex in a way that is honest, passionate, creative–but respectful of its power.
    Perhaps this is one reason that I enjoy historicals so much more than contemporaries–because sexuality and its physical/emotional consequences are taken more seriously by the virginal/shy/inexperienced heroines, and that’s more reflective of my own life experience/world view.
    I’m in favor of anatomy lessons and positional variety (very educational–smile), but I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice–to overcome embarrassment, to figure out what you and your partner like, to discover just how you best fit together, to get all the nerve endings firing right. I loved one of Carla Kelly’s books (was it “The Wedding Journey”?) where the Heroine didn’t “go up in flames” the First Time but (with the enthusiastic participation of the Hero) worked up to it (okay, it was like the Third Time). That seemed very real to me, and passionate, and sweet.
    Melinda

    Reply
  84. Hi Susan/Miranda!
    I read your fabulous post yesterday but couldn’t get the time to write a comment. . . It’s hard to write down my thoughts without straying into the Land of Too Much Information, but I’ll give it a try!
    Like many of the other commenters, I think “love scenes” shouldn’t be simply gratuitious or “sex for sex’s sake.” Love scenes should unfold on the same terms as other scenes in the book–moving the story forward, or serving some narrative or character-establishing purpose. Perhaps this is in keeping with my general view of sex as not simply “a fun bodily function” (though of course it is that) but that it involves mind, body and soul in a profound and intimate expression of love for another person. Sex need not always be serious–it’s fun, and funny, and awkward sometimes–but it isn’t to be taken lightly either. So I expect romance writers–especially writers of historicals– to deal with sex in a way that is honest, passionate, creative–but respectful of its power.
    Perhaps this is one reason that I enjoy historicals so much more than contemporaries–because sexuality and its physical/emotional consequences are taken more seriously by the virginal/shy/inexperienced heroines, and that’s more reflective of my own life experience/world view.
    I’m in favor of anatomy lessons and positional variety (very educational–smile), but I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice–to overcome embarrassment, to figure out what you and your partner like, to discover just how you best fit together, to get all the nerve endings firing right. I loved one of Carla Kelly’s books (was it “The Wedding Journey”?) where the Heroine didn’t “go up in flames” the First Time but (with the enthusiastic participation of the Hero) worked up to it (okay, it was like the Third Time). That seemed very real to me, and passionate, and sweet.
    Melinda

    Reply
  85. RevMelinda said “…I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice…”
    This is my personal bugbear – is there a book where the heroine is more experienced than the hero? Please please please. Just one so that I know they exist.

    Reply
  86. RevMelinda said “…I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice…”
    This is my personal bugbear – is there a book where the heroine is more experienced than the hero? Please please please. Just one so that I know they exist.

    Reply
  87. RevMelinda said “…I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice…”
    This is my personal bugbear – is there a book where the heroine is more experienced than the hero? Please please please. Just one so that I know they exist.

    Reply
  88. RevMelinda said “…I roll my eyes when the hero/heroine are overly acrobatic The First Time (particularly when the heroine is a shy virgin) because, like any other physical activity, sex takes practice…”
    This is my personal bugbear – is there a book where the heroine is more experienced than the hero? Please please please. Just one so that I know they exist.

    Reply
  89. Francois, I think your bugbear about the vastly experienced hero vs. the virginal heroine might just inspire my blog next week….this is a VERY GOOD question!
    Of course, I’ve just finished with a heroine (Lady Castlemaine in the Royal Harlot) who was in real life the female equivilant to a male libertine-rake. Kings and lords, grooms and actors — she was pretty free-wheeling and diverse in her choices, and a LOT of fun to write about. OTOH, she wasn’t a romance heroine, so I guess your hunt for the more-experienced-heroine is still on….
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  90. Francois, I think your bugbear about the vastly experienced hero vs. the virginal heroine might just inspire my blog next week….this is a VERY GOOD question!
    Of course, I’ve just finished with a heroine (Lady Castlemaine in the Royal Harlot) who was in real life the female equivilant to a male libertine-rake. Kings and lords, grooms and actors — she was pretty free-wheeling and diverse in her choices, and a LOT of fun to write about. OTOH, she wasn’t a romance heroine, so I guess your hunt for the more-experienced-heroine is still on….
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  91. Francois, I think your bugbear about the vastly experienced hero vs. the virginal heroine might just inspire my blog next week….this is a VERY GOOD question!
    Of course, I’ve just finished with a heroine (Lady Castlemaine in the Royal Harlot) who was in real life the female equivilant to a male libertine-rake. Kings and lords, grooms and actors — she was pretty free-wheeling and diverse in her choices, and a LOT of fun to write about. OTOH, she wasn’t a romance heroine, so I guess your hunt for the more-experienced-heroine is still on….
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  92. Francois, I think your bugbear about the vastly experienced hero vs. the virginal heroine might just inspire my blog next week….this is a VERY GOOD question!
    Of course, I’ve just finished with a heroine (Lady Castlemaine in the Royal Harlot) who was in real life the female equivilant to a male libertine-rake. Kings and lords, grooms and actors — she was pretty free-wheeling and diverse in her choices, and a LOT of fun to write about. OTOH, she wasn’t a romance heroine, so I guess your hunt for the more-experienced-heroine is still on….
    Susan/Miranda

    Reply
  93. Francois, here are a couple of books that came immediately to mind where the Hero is the Virgin and the Heroine is the Experienced one–Jo Beverley’s “Forbidden” and Mary Balogh’s “No Man’s Mistress.”

    Reply
  94. Francois, here are a couple of books that came immediately to mind where the Hero is the Virgin and the Heroine is the Experienced one–Jo Beverley’s “Forbidden” and Mary Balogh’s “No Man’s Mistress.”

    Reply
  95. Francois, here are a couple of books that came immediately to mind where the Hero is the Virgin and the Heroine is the Experienced one–Jo Beverley’s “Forbidden” and Mary Balogh’s “No Man’s Mistress.”

    Reply
  96. Francois, here are a couple of books that came immediately to mind where the Hero is the Virgin and the Heroine is the Experienced one–Jo Beverley’s “Forbidden” and Mary Balogh’s “No Man’s Mistress.”

    Reply
  97. Oh thank you! I am ordering them right now. They look to be a refreshing change.
    This is not really a complete obsession, because I do like historical accuracy. However these sexual know-it-all men had pushed me too far. The stereotypes are easier to write in this situation, and I suppose it’s what the audience is supposed to want really, but things had got so bad that I was praying for a woman that could surprise a man with a single thing he hadn’t seen before. Even if she just licked the back of his knees before slapping him with a kipper. Anything!

    Reply
  98. Oh thank you! I am ordering them right now. They look to be a refreshing change.
    This is not really a complete obsession, because I do like historical accuracy. However these sexual know-it-all men had pushed me too far. The stereotypes are easier to write in this situation, and I suppose it’s what the audience is supposed to want really, but things had got so bad that I was praying for a woman that could surprise a man with a single thing he hadn’t seen before. Even if she just licked the back of his knees before slapping him with a kipper. Anything!

    Reply
  99. Oh thank you! I am ordering them right now. They look to be a refreshing change.
    This is not really a complete obsession, because I do like historical accuracy. However these sexual know-it-all men had pushed me too far. The stereotypes are easier to write in this situation, and I suppose it’s what the audience is supposed to want really, but things had got so bad that I was praying for a woman that could surprise a man with a single thing he hadn’t seen before. Even if she just licked the back of his knees before slapping him with a kipper. Anything!

    Reply
  100. Oh thank you! I am ordering them right now. They look to be a refreshing change.
    This is not really a complete obsession, because I do like historical accuracy. However these sexual know-it-all men had pushed me too far. The stereotypes are easier to write in this situation, and I suppose it’s what the audience is supposed to want really, but things had got so bad that I was praying for a woman that could surprise a man with a single thing he hadn’t seen before. Even if she just licked the back of his knees before slapping him with a kipper. Anything!

    Reply

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