One of the most challenging things for me to write is a bed scene between my hero and his lady love.
Because lovemaking isn’t just the joining of two bodies with one singular purpose. Lovemaking is emotions made tangible.
Pages and pages of sexual tension, heated looks, and fiery touches culminate in that moment. The world and its cares melt away. And this couple, who have been fighting (maybe even ignoring) the pull between them, is left alone in a cocoon of sighs and moans, of whispers and groans.
Sexual tension between the hero and heroine often begins with a touch–a brush of fingertips, the clasp of hands, an accidental embrace, a kiss.
It’s purely physical at first. Brooding heroes casting lust-filled stares at the heroine. Delightful shivers dancing down the heroine’s spine when she catches the hero’s attention. A simple greeting from one to the other evokes images of entwined bodies, tangled sheets, and pleasure beyond their wildest imaginations.
But will that moment live up to the hype?
The connection shared by the hero and heroine has to be, in my opinion, felt from the very beginning. It has to grow from Point A and explode by the time they reach Point Z. Without that kind of tempo in a story, sex is…sex, a copulating of bodies seeking physical satisfaction in one another.
And that, my friends, can ruin an utterly fantastic book.
What happened to the fire, the heat? Who are these two people you’re reading about? Where’d their undeniable need for each other go?
It’s in this moment that a writer can truly shine.
Can I, the author, make this couple’s lovemaking more than just mechanics? Can I make you feel hot and bothered with just words? Can I make you feel like a welcomed voyeur in this couple’s private world? Will you close the book feeling satisfied that nothing was lost between this man and woman? Or will you close the book wondering what the hell happened?
This is where the use of your senses, made tangible through descriptive writing, comes in. Descriptive writing, when done correctly, draws the reader into the characters’ world. It sucks you into each page, makes you hold your breath in anticipation, and sigh in satisfaction.
It’s not enough to write, He touched her. She moaned.
Those simple statements demand so much more: How did he touch her? Where did he touch her? What did he touch her with? Why did she moan? How else did she react? Did she like it? Hate it? Want more? Less?
So let me try again:
He touched her then, dragging his fingers over her shoulders to her back, massaging her soft strength while rolling so she was beneath him. Her softness yielded to his hardness. Her curves molded to his angles. He groaned. She was made for him, made to take him, made to be his and his only.
He angled his head, caressed her lips with his tongue until she moaned and opened for him, welcomed him into her moist heat with an answering sweep of her tongue against his. Leveraging his weight on his forearms, he tore away to trail his mouth over her throat. She arched up with a gasp and mumbled incoherently when he nipped where her neck curved into her shoulder. He chuckled, delighted by her reaction to him.
“Please,” she whispered brokenly. “Touch me.”
He laughed again then sucked hard at the skin rising over her black bra. Goosebumps rippled over her chest. Sweat glistened in the hollow at the base of her throat. “Where? Here?”
He tongued the valley between her breasts. She bucked beneath him. He clamped his hands to her hips, holding her in place despite her whimpered protests.
“Or here?” Using his teeth, he drew one lacy cup down and touched the tip of his tongue to the dark pink nipple cresting her perfect breast. She shuddered and he smiled before drawing more of her soft flesh into his mouth.
The best love scenes I’ve read are written so eloquently, so beautifully, that I’m utterly enthralled by the characters and this passionate act. I can see them clearly in my mind, see every kiss, every caress, every thrust; can hear every soft slap of flesh on flesh, hear every whispered promise and plea, gasp, sigh, and moan.
The art of making love doesn’t differ between reality and fiction. It’s learning to take that reality and make good, readable fiction.
I don’t just want to write a good love scene. I want to write a terrific love scene.
I don’t want to write a “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” love scene. I don’t want to write about a man and woman going through the motions. I don’t want to write about a couple with a minor interest/attraction to each other.
I want to write slow love scenes, the kind that gives the reader goosebumps. I want to write about a couple that are so attuned to each other that their feelings are completely palpable to the reader. I want to write about an attraction so powerful it takes the reader’s breath away when the couple finally lands in bed together.
The art of making love on paper isn’t a simple, unemotional process. Rather, it’s one filled with emotions, hopes, fears, needs, wants, like, love, and lust. It’s being able to take something so natural in our world and making it absolutely beautiful in the characters’ world with just words. And it’s being able to paint an accurate picture that doesn’t shortchange the author, the reader, or the characters.