Too hot to trot?

Mom_thumbnail_2Edith here. I had a hot, er, I mean, hard, er, um, let’s say, difficult week. I recently was stopped cold, mid-way through a book I was writing. Sort of like a centipede hustling along until it wondered which foot should come next.

It was a love scene. An ultimate, longed-for, much awaited sex scene, in fact.

And then it occured to me: How can I make this one different from any other I’ve written? How can I make it intense, without makiing it porn.

And I stopped writing. I was puzzled. After all, I’ve written many, many romances. How many ways can Part A fit into Slot B?

Lots of ways, I suppose, but I wasn’t writing the Kama Sutra; I was writing a regency-set love story. No ropes and pulleys involved. I want to convey love and ecstacy, not physical fitness.
Olivia_newton_john_physical_1
Ah, no, I don’t think so…

In fact, I remembered one romance I read that set me giggling because the author definitely had accessed a sex manual. The gymnastics pullled me right out of the story.
Kamasutraphys
Yikes! No no no!

I didn’t want to emply euphemisms either, because they can sound childish. Nor did I want to use Latin terms. These are lovers, loving at last, not scholars.

Sexy_scholars
“Wha? Layton doesn’t think we’re sexy?! Boo hiss!”

You can’t do the asterisk anymore. Nor will a simple and heartfelt: “Reader, I married him,” do. Forget about the fade-out after Rhett carried Scarlet up those stairs.

Modern readers want to be in on the love. They deserve to be, after all. They yearned through the story too, if you wrote it right.

But how to make the scene both loving and steamy, real and fulfilling for everyone, reader included? And how not to feel like a voyeur while doing it?

I stopped, and mulled.

And then, one morning as I was staring at the empty screen, it came to me.

I was the one thinking too much about the parts involved. That wasn’t the point. As every character is different, and every love story is different, so then the perceptions of the characters is different. Just as sex is different for every person, and different every time for every person, so too, the act itself is always different.

The solution?
Romance_1I went with the characters and their emotions. I wrote a love scene as I thought the characers felt it, and it was hot, although not too hot for the characters, and so it couldn’t be for me, or for my readers.

Porn is simply Part A and Slot B.

Romance is love. Love between lovers shows itself in sex. In touches and kisses as well as parts. Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.

And they did!

But what about you, Gentle Reader?

Want more desciption? Less? In Latin terms? Euphemisms? *** Asterisks***?

Enquiring minds would like to know.

51 thoughts on “Too hot to trot?”

  1. Thaniks ma, but i do not need the shout out!
    FYI Word Wench fans, mum now posts for herself and is completely self-sufficient. However, if i have the time and my feet up (a usual Sunday these days as my feet swell when not up), I enjoy playing with the pics…

    Reply
  2. Thaniks ma, but i do not need the shout out!
    FYI Word Wench fans, mum now posts for herself and is completely self-sufficient. However, if i have the time and my feet up (a usual Sunday these days as my feet swell when not up), I enjoy playing with the pics…

    Reply
  3. Thaniks ma, but i do not need the shout out!
    FYI Word Wench fans, mum now posts for herself and is completely self-sufficient. However, if i have the time and my feet up (a usual Sunday these days as my feet swell when not up), I enjoy playing with the pics…

    Reply
  4. From Sherrie:
    Edith (and Susie), how I adore your posts! Edith, you outdid yourself this time! And Susie, you always come up with the BEST pictures! (Quick, anybody, I need more exclamation points!!!)
    Edith, I’m really glad you asked what readers like when reading love scenes. This is one of my hot buttons. Or maybe I should say one of my pet peeves. *g*
    I deplore the trend in romance novels these days toward porn and graphic descriptions. I’m no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but extremely graphic descriptions make me vaguely uncomfortable. What I find lacking in so many of those scenes is the *emotions*. I would much rather read a love scene viewed from the characters’ emotions than a lesson in Gray’s Anatomy. But I think it’s harder for writers to do emotions well.
    Edith, I so agree with your statement: “Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.” If you let the characters be your guide, and let it come out (and in) naturally and in a loving way, it will carry the scene. I much prefer that the writer suggest what is happening or about to happen, and let my imagination fill in the rest. A little physical description is necessary, of course, but give me the emotions and leave the extremely graphic descriptions out.

    Reply
  5. From Sherrie:
    Edith (and Susie), how I adore your posts! Edith, you outdid yourself this time! And Susie, you always come up with the BEST pictures! (Quick, anybody, I need more exclamation points!!!)
    Edith, I’m really glad you asked what readers like when reading love scenes. This is one of my hot buttons. Or maybe I should say one of my pet peeves. *g*
    I deplore the trend in romance novels these days toward porn and graphic descriptions. I’m no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but extremely graphic descriptions make me vaguely uncomfortable. What I find lacking in so many of those scenes is the *emotions*. I would much rather read a love scene viewed from the characters’ emotions than a lesson in Gray’s Anatomy. But I think it’s harder for writers to do emotions well.
    Edith, I so agree with your statement: “Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.” If you let the characters be your guide, and let it come out (and in) naturally and in a loving way, it will carry the scene. I much prefer that the writer suggest what is happening or about to happen, and let my imagination fill in the rest. A little physical description is necessary, of course, but give me the emotions and leave the extremely graphic descriptions out.

    Reply
  6. From Sherrie:
    Edith (and Susie), how I adore your posts! Edith, you outdid yourself this time! And Susie, you always come up with the BEST pictures! (Quick, anybody, I need more exclamation points!!!)
    Edith, I’m really glad you asked what readers like when reading love scenes. This is one of my hot buttons. Or maybe I should say one of my pet peeves. *g*
    I deplore the trend in romance novels these days toward porn and graphic descriptions. I’m no prude by any stretch of the imagination, but extremely graphic descriptions make me vaguely uncomfortable. What I find lacking in so many of those scenes is the *emotions*. I would much rather read a love scene viewed from the characters’ emotions than a lesson in Gray’s Anatomy. But I think it’s harder for writers to do emotions well.
    Edith, I so agree with your statement: “Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.” If you let the characters be your guide, and let it come out (and in) naturally and in a loving way, it will carry the scene. I much prefer that the writer suggest what is happening or about to happen, and let my imagination fill in the rest. A little physical description is necessary, of course, but give me the emotions and leave the extremely graphic descriptions out.

    Reply
  7. Susie… love the photo of the ring spanning the pages of the Book of Solomon. And how the ring casts the shadow of a heart. Beautiful. Poignant.
    And Edith… I’ll take emotions over description any day. Unless you’ve got two aliens mating, I know the order of things. Touch my heart… the rest of me will follow. Every time.
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  8. Susie… love the photo of the ring spanning the pages of the Book of Solomon. And how the ring casts the shadow of a heart. Beautiful. Poignant.
    And Edith… I’ll take emotions over description any day. Unless you’ve got two aliens mating, I know the order of things. Touch my heart… the rest of me will follow. Every time.
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  9. Susie… love the photo of the ring spanning the pages of the Book of Solomon. And how the ring casts the shadow of a heart. Beautiful. Poignant.
    And Edith… I’ll take emotions over description any day. Unless you’ve got two aliens mating, I know the order of things. Touch my heart… the rest of me will follow. Every time.
    — the littlest wenchling

    Reply
  10. Pornography is characterised chiefly by lack of plot and characterisation. Its aim and object is primarily the sexual titillation of the reader, and one cardboard cut-out will do as well as another for that purpose.
    But if the reader has got to know the characters and to believe in them as people, to be interested in their story and the way that they are facing the challenges in their lives, then he/she will naturally empathise as well with their emotions and thus with their sexual feelings.
    Language needs to be appropriate to the comfort-zone of both the writer and reader, but it is perfectly possible to write pornography entirely in elegant, even flowery, euphemisms and passionate, deeply-felt emotional love-scenes in very blunt, even vulgar, terms.

    Reply
  11. Pornography is characterised chiefly by lack of plot and characterisation. Its aim and object is primarily the sexual titillation of the reader, and one cardboard cut-out will do as well as another for that purpose.
    But if the reader has got to know the characters and to believe in them as people, to be interested in their story and the way that they are facing the challenges in their lives, then he/she will naturally empathise as well with their emotions and thus with their sexual feelings.
    Language needs to be appropriate to the comfort-zone of both the writer and reader, but it is perfectly possible to write pornography entirely in elegant, even flowery, euphemisms and passionate, deeply-felt emotional love-scenes in very blunt, even vulgar, terms.

    Reply
  12. Pornography is characterised chiefly by lack of plot and characterisation. Its aim and object is primarily the sexual titillation of the reader, and one cardboard cut-out will do as well as another for that purpose.
    But if the reader has got to know the characters and to believe in them as people, to be interested in their story and the way that they are facing the challenges in their lives, then he/she will naturally empathise as well with their emotions and thus with their sexual feelings.
    Language needs to be appropriate to the comfort-zone of both the writer and reader, but it is perfectly possible to write pornography entirely in elegant, even flowery, euphemisms and passionate, deeply-felt emotional love-scenes in very blunt, even vulgar, terms.

    Reply
  13. Oh, Tigress, please don’t misunderstand me!
    I never meant to do the old cliche’ pornography bashing. Some porn is artful indeed. I can read it and not be either embarrassed or appalled.
    I was talking about the other kind. The cheap thrills kind that gave the whole genre a bad name.
    As I understand it, pornography is meant to incite the passions.
    Some is brilliant. Some is sleazy.
    So, what else is new??
    (There should be a new name for literary porn, I think. As there shoud be for literary romance.)

    Reply
  14. Oh, Tigress, please don’t misunderstand me!
    I never meant to do the old cliche’ pornography bashing. Some porn is artful indeed. I can read it and not be either embarrassed or appalled.
    I was talking about the other kind. The cheap thrills kind that gave the whole genre a bad name.
    As I understand it, pornography is meant to incite the passions.
    Some is brilliant. Some is sleazy.
    So, what else is new??
    (There should be a new name for literary porn, I think. As there shoud be for literary romance.)

    Reply
  15. Oh, Tigress, please don’t misunderstand me!
    I never meant to do the old cliche’ pornography bashing. Some porn is artful indeed. I can read it and not be either embarrassed or appalled.
    I was talking about the other kind. The cheap thrills kind that gave the whole genre a bad name.
    As I understand it, pornography is meant to incite the passions.
    Some is brilliant. Some is sleazy.
    So, what else is new??
    (There should be a new name for literary porn, I think. As there shoud be for literary romance.)

    Reply
  16. I can accept a wide range of sexual detail, depending on the story and the characters. There’s such a thing as too much or too little, but even that is context-dependent.
    For example, I’m fine with a kisses-only romance as long as the book ends before the characters have sex–classics, traditional Regencies, etc. with a chaste courtship ending in engagement are fine by me. But if the characters are having sex, I want to know something about it. It doesn’t have to be a play-by-play, but I want to know if they’re satisfied and what it means to them.
    On the other side, I know too much when I see it. 🙂 If the sex overwhelms the love, it’s too much. But that can happen even in a not-too-graphic book where I don’t feel like the characters have a bond beyond lust. OTOH, if I *do* feel like the protagonists are well-matched on all levels, the author can be more graphic without me feeling the story has wandered into porn territory.

    Reply
  17. I can accept a wide range of sexual detail, depending on the story and the characters. There’s such a thing as too much or too little, but even that is context-dependent.
    For example, I’m fine with a kisses-only romance as long as the book ends before the characters have sex–classics, traditional Regencies, etc. with a chaste courtship ending in engagement are fine by me. But if the characters are having sex, I want to know something about it. It doesn’t have to be a play-by-play, but I want to know if they’re satisfied and what it means to them.
    On the other side, I know too much when I see it. 🙂 If the sex overwhelms the love, it’s too much. But that can happen even in a not-too-graphic book where I don’t feel like the characters have a bond beyond lust. OTOH, if I *do* feel like the protagonists are well-matched on all levels, the author can be more graphic without me feeling the story has wandered into porn territory.

    Reply
  18. I can accept a wide range of sexual detail, depending on the story and the characters. There’s such a thing as too much or too little, but even that is context-dependent.
    For example, I’m fine with a kisses-only romance as long as the book ends before the characters have sex–classics, traditional Regencies, etc. with a chaste courtship ending in engagement are fine by me. But if the characters are having sex, I want to know something about it. It doesn’t have to be a play-by-play, but I want to know if they’re satisfied and what it means to them.
    On the other side, I know too much when I see it. 🙂 If the sex overwhelms the love, it’s too much. But that can happen even in a not-too-graphic book where I don’t feel like the characters have a bond beyond lust. OTOH, if I *do* feel like the protagonists are well-matched on all levels, the author can be more graphic without me feeling the story has wandered into porn territory.

    Reply
  19. I’m sorry: I didn’t think I had misunderstood, but I apologise if it appears that way. My point was really only that if the reader has become engaged in the feelings of the characters on the page, then she is going to be involved in whatever they are doing, and the issue of language is a completely separate one, its appropriateness depending both on the cultural norms of the reader and on those of the fictional characters themselves.
    For too many reasons to go into here, the definitions of writing that deals unequivocally with sexual activity are in a continual state of change, and have been for at least 50 years. It will probably be a few more decades before they settle down.

    Reply
  20. I’m sorry: I didn’t think I had misunderstood, but I apologise if it appears that way. My point was really only that if the reader has become engaged in the feelings of the characters on the page, then she is going to be involved in whatever they are doing, and the issue of language is a completely separate one, its appropriateness depending both on the cultural norms of the reader and on those of the fictional characters themselves.
    For too many reasons to go into here, the definitions of writing that deals unequivocally with sexual activity are in a continual state of change, and have been for at least 50 years. It will probably be a few more decades before they settle down.

    Reply
  21. I’m sorry: I didn’t think I had misunderstood, but I apologise if it appears that way. My point was really only that if the reader has become engaged in the feelings of the characters on the page, then she is going to be involved in whatever they are doing, and the issue of language is a completely separate one, its appropriateness depending both on the cultural norms of the reader and on those of the fictional characters themselves.
    For too many reasons to go into here, the definitions of writing that deals unequivocally with sexual activity are in a continual state of change, and have been for at least 50 years. It will probably be a few more decades before they settle down.

    Reply
  22. I do not mind graphic sex scenes as long as the couple and their story is foremost.
    I’m trying to write hot, hot sex but am finding it very difficult. It’s hard not to write the mechanics of sex and how fast or slow A is moving in and out of B (or is it the other way around?) while keeping the emotionality THERE. It’s hard. No pun intended.

    Reply
  23. I do not mind graphic sex scenes as long as the couple and their story is foremost.
    I’m trying to write hot, hot sex but am finding it very difficult. It’s hard not to write the mechanics of sex and how fast or slow A is moving in and out of B (or is it the other way around?) while keeping the emotionality THERE. It’s hard. No pun intended.

    Reply
  24. I do not mind graphic sex scenes as long as the couple and their story is foremost.
    I’m trying to write hot, hot sex but am finding it very difficult. It’s hard not to write the mechanics of sex and how fast or slow A is moving in and out of B (or is it the other way around?) while keeping the emotionality THERE. It’s hard. No pun intended.

    Reply
  25. Agh, you know the trend toward erotica dominating romances is a peeve of mine. I’m perfectly ok with ‘Reader, I married him’. It’s a rare, rare scene that can keep me from just rolling my eyes and skimming forward and the surest way for me NOT to read an author is everyone else telling me how ‘hot’ the read is. For me, that means it’s going to be boring.It’s very rarely really story driven or plot integral and almost always pages longer than it needs to be and way to descriptive. It’s bad porn. I have nothing against porn, porn written yesterday, porn written to refute prior porn (Return to the Chateau, anyone?) or porn written in the BC era. It just doesn’t work well in romance if you aren’t very very good at it.
    Why put the full stop drag down in the story just to hold up the sheet and wave it around the party?

    Reply
  26. Agh, you know the trend toward erotica dominating romances is a peeve of mine. I’m perfectly ok with ‘Reader, I married him’. It’s a rare, rare scene that can keep me from just rolling my eyes and skimming forward and the surest way for me NOT to read an author is everyone else telling me how ‘hot’ the read is. For me, that means it’s going to be boring.It’s very rarely really story driven or plot integral and almost always pages longer than it needs to be and way to descriptive. It’s bad porn. I have nothing against porn, porn written yesterday, porn written to refute prior porn (Return to the Chateau, anyone?) or porn written in the BC era. It just doesn’t work well in romance if you aren’t very very good at it.
    Why put the full stop drag down in the story just to hold up the sheet and wave it around the party?

    Reply
  27. Agh, you know the trend toward erotica dominating romances is a peeve of mine. I’m perfectly ok with ‘Reader, I married him’. It’s a rare, rare scene that can keep me from just rolling my eyes and skimming forward and the surest way for me NOT to read an author is everyone else telling me how ‘hot’ the read is. For me, that means it’s going to be boring.It’s very rarely really story driven or plot integral and almost always pages longer than it needs to be and way to descriptive. It’s bad porn. I have nothing against porn, porn written yesterday, porn written to refute prior porn (Return to the Chateau, anyone?) or porn written in the BC era. It just doesn’t work well in romance if you aren’t very very good at it.
    Why put the full stop drag down in the story just to hold up the sheet and wave it around the party?

    Reply
  28. What a great topic!
    Speaking only for myself of course…I’ve often read love scenes which had me skipping forward a couple of pages. There’s usually nothing wrong with them in a technical sense but they just read like they could ‘belong’ to any other romance couple.
    Which is why I’m very happy to hear that you let your characters dictate the way the scene should go.
    For me it’s all in the details. The hero who slightly bites the heroine’s neck because he just can’t help himslef and had been eying that neck for the previous 200 pages, the heroine who remembered how the hero shivered when she ran her fingers behind his ear and so does it again. Little things like that. I want to feel both characters are deeply affected by the act–and not always in a sweet, gentle way. The bite on the neck for example would be considered a little rough but it’s a huge turn on for many women, me included.
    Sex scenes without a good love story behind them are extremely boring to me though–which is why I never try to read Erotica anymore.

    Reply
  29. What a great topic!
    Speaking only for myself of course…I’ve often read love scenes which had me skipping forward a couple of pages. There’s usually nothing wrong with them in a technical sense but they just read like they could ‘belong’ to any other romance couple.
    Which is why I’m very happy to hear that you let your characters dictate the way the scene should go.
    For me it’s all in the details. The hero who slightly bites the heroine’s neck because he just can’t help himslef and had been eying that neck for the previous 200 pages, the heroine who remembered how the hero shivered when she ran her fingers behind his ear and so does it again. Little things like that. I want to feel both characters are deeply affected by the act–and not always in a sweet, gentle way. The bite on the neck for example would be considered a little rough but it’s a huge turn on for many women, me included.
    Sex scenes without a good love story behind them are extremely boring to me though–which is why I never try to read Erotica anymore.

    Reply
  30. What a great topic!
    Speaking only for myself of course…I’ve often read love scenes which had me skipping forward a couple of pages. There’s usually nothing wrong with them in a technical sense but they just read like they could ‘belong’ to any other romance couple.
    Which is why I’m very happy to hear that you let your characters dictate the way the scene should go.
    For me it’s all in the details. The hero who slightly bites the heroine’s neck because he just can’t help himslef and had been eying that neck for the previous 200 pages, the heroine who remembered how the hero shivered when she ran her fingers behind his ear and so does it again. Little things like that. I want to feel both characters are deeply affected by the act–and not always in a sweet, gentle way. The bite on the neck for example would be considered a little rough but it’s a huge turn on for many women, me included.
    Sex scenes without a good love story behind them are extremely boring to me though–which is why I never try to read Erotica anymore.

    Reply
  31. Love what Estelle said above. It’s details of the characters that make a love scene. I, too, skip pages and pages of romance when it’s all about Part A and Slot B. Maybe it works for people who haven’t experienced much sex, but I read romance for the love story. If I want to learn sex, there are better ways. If I have to skip too many pages, I don’t read that author again because I figure I’m wasting money by skipping pages.
    Needless to say, I don’t skip Edith’s pages. “G”

    Reply
  32. Love what Estelle said above. It’s details of the characters that make a love scene. I, too, skip pages and pages of romance when it’s all about Part A and Slot B. Maybe it works for people who haven’t experienced much sex, but I read romance for the love story. If I want to learn sex, there are better ways. If I have to skip too many pages, I don’t read that author again because I figure I’m wasting money by skipping pages.
    Needless to say, I don’t skip Edith’s pages. “G”

    Reply
  33. Love what Estelle said above. It’s details of the characters that make a love scene. I, too, skip pages and pages of romance when it’s all about Part A and Slot B. Maybe it works for people who haven’t experienced much sex, but I read romance for the love story. If I want to learn sex, there are better ways. If I have to skip too many pages, I don’t read that author again because I figure I’m wasting money by skipping pages.
    Needless to say, I don’t skip Edith’s pages. “G”

    Reply
  34. >>”Romance is love. Love between lovers shows itself in sex. In touches and kisses as well as parts. Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.”
    I agree completely, Edith. I like hot love scenes, generally. But if they’re mechanical and don’t show the characters’ emotions, they’re just filler, and I’ll skip over them. IMO, “Lightning That Lingers” is one of the best at letting the reader “feel the love.” It’s one of those gorgeous guy falls for plain jane plots, but it’s totally believable because the characters’ emotions come across so well. Whenever I think of Love Scenes, I think of that book even though I don’t remember the specifics of tab and slot.

    Reply
  35. >>”Romance is love. Love between lovers shows itself in sex. In touches and kisses as well as parts. Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.”
    I agree completely, Edith. I like hot love scenes, generally. But if they’re mechanical and don’t show the characters’ emotions, they’re just filler, and I’ll skip over them. IMO, “Lightning That Lingers” is one of the best at letting the reader “feel the love.” It’s one of those gorgeous guy falls for plain jane plots, but it’s totally believable because the characters’ emotions come across so well. Whenever I think of Love Scenes, I think of that book even though I don’t remember the specifics of tab and slot.

    Reply
  36. >>”Romance is love. Love between lovers shows itself in sex. In touches and kisses as well as parts. Let the characters find love, and let the parts fit where they may.”
    I agree completely, Edith. I like hot love scenes, generally. But if they’re mechanical and don’t show the characters’ emotions, they’re just filler, and I’ll skip over them. IMO, “Lightning That Lingers” is one of the best at letting the reader “feel the love.” It’s one of those gorgeous guy falls for plain jane plots, but it’s totally believable because the characters’ emotions come across so well. Whenever I think of Love Scenes, I think of that book even though I don’t remember the specifics of tab and slot.

    Reply
  37. Thanks guys. Between what you say and editors say – I am completely at sea.
    nevermind.
    that’s where I’m most comfortable.
    And evidently, so are my lovers.
    Just wait until you eyeball my newest cover for AVON.
    oh ho!
    Or should I say: Yo Ho Ho?

    Reply
  38. Thanks guys. Between what you say and editors say – I am completely at sea.
    nevermind.
    that’s where I’m most comfortable.
    And evidently, so are my lovers.
    Just wait until you eyeball my newest cover for AVON.
    oh ho!
    Or should I say: Yo Ho Ho?

    Reply
  39. Thanks guys. Between what you say and editors say – I am completely at sea.
    nevermind.
    that’s where I’m most comfortable.
    And evidently, so are my lovers.
    Just wait until you eyeball my newest cover for AVON.
    oh ho!
    Or should I say: Yo Ho Ho?

    Reply
  40. To be perfectly honest, I often skip the love scenes, no matter how well written they are – especially if there are more than a couple in the book. I just want to keep reading the story, not go into the bedroom with the h/h. That said, when I DO read the love scenes, I want them to be descriptive and full of emotion, but please, no euphemisms. And definitely no gymnastics *g*.

    Reply
  41. To be perfectly honest, I often skip the love scenes, no matter how well written they are – especially if there are more than a couple in the book. I just want to keep reading the story, not go into the bedroom with the h/h. That said, when I DO read the love scenes, I want them to be descriptive and full of emotion, but please, no euphemisms. And definitely no gymnastics *g*.

    Reply
  42. To be perfectly honest, I often skip the love scenes, no matter how well written they are – especially if there are more than a couple in the book. I just want to keep reading the story, not go into the bedroom with the h/h. That said, when I DO read the love scenes, I want them to be descriptive and full of emotion, but please, no euphemisms. And definitely no gymnastics *g*.

    Reply

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