Outline the sexual progression of most romance novels and you end up with something like this, give or take a few scenes depending on the genre. A sweet, of course, tops out in the first two. A genre historical may have multiple interruptus scenes. An erotic novel may just jump straight to the multiple choice section. Here it is:
Sexus Interruptus (aka – heavy petting)
First love scene (hero dominant)
Additional love scenes – chose from the following choices:
- heroine dominant
- oral sex
- food event
- scandalous location
- toys / props
- non-traditional organs or orifices (esp. paranormals)
- multiple partners (non-genre romance)
- skanky villain sex (provided as contrast)
In any event, given the above list, why oh why do we intelligent, successful women insist on reading the above laundry list over and over again? Obviously, we don’t. Our romance novels are something more than a list that boils down to inserting Tab A into Slot B. But what could it be? What does the successful romance author know about writing that our critics don’t?
Emotional Connection. Yeah, yeah, it all feels good or electric or tingly or throbbing (I had to throw that last one in), but what separates a love scene from say a pornographic picture? Or Rob Lowe on home video? Love. Fear. Anger. Frustration. Deeply felt emotions flow through the best love scenes. They are the substance behind the mechanics and why we return to our favorite genre.
Connect to the Reader. Long before the first caress, characters have to be drawn such that the reader roots for the heroine and falls in love with the hero. I as a reader need to identify with the heroine’s difficulty because I am the heroine. While I am reading, I want to live her dreams and traumas. In my hero, I want to see a man who would brighten my world and help raise my children.
But good sex goes way beyond the connection to the participants. Frankly, sex isn’t a spectator sport. So, while I’m living in the heroine, making love with my hero, what lifts the experience into something more interesting than a grammar class (where oh where does that dangling modifier go)? Ask yourself this: what is the emotion BEYOND lust that pervades the love scene? And (here’s the real kicker) how does it change?
All romance love scenes from first kiss to explosive orgasm should contain lust and at least a glimmer of love (skanky villain sex excluded). But overriding that should be another emotion that layers into every caress, every stroke, every thrust and moan. Anger (at something–the situation, past history) that love changes to peace. Fear that love changes to gratitude (subset: adrenaline sex that reconnects us with living). Jealousy that love changes to worship. Something lost that love transforms into someone found. That’s what I read for. Layer those into your love scenes and you’ll have something readers keep coming back to again and again.
Now it's your turn. Make a comment, add a sexual scene that I missed, or tell me that you love my newest book: Wicked Surrender. Here's a picture! And a link to my website www.jadeleeauthor.com where there's a book trailer. And one lucky commenter will get a free Jade Lee (or Kathy Lyons) book! So...tell me what you think!