The thought of writing love scenes sends many authors running for the hills, but love scenes are my favorite scenes to write. It’s a chance for two characters who have spent a good chunk of the story pining for each other and bantering to take things to the next level physically.
Here are five tips that I always follow to nail writing love scenes:
1. Include plenty of foreplay.
Just like in real life, it’s important for characters to build up to sex/intercourse. Sex won’t feel believable to readers if the characters don’t warm up enough. Start off with neck kisses, a hot makeout, heavy petting, mind-blowing oral, anything to show that your characters are in the mood.
Writing good foreplay will also help readers feel more invested in the story because they’ll actually believe your characters are hot for each other.
And remember: foreplay isn’t just physical. It’s also stuff like naughty texting or dirty talking or a sexy look exchanged in a crowded room. Anything to amp up the heat of the moment and convey that these two characters are fiery hot for one another and dying to get it on.
2. Lay it on thick with emotion.
Having your characters express how they’re feeling while they’re being physically intimate with one another marks a huge step in the narrative. It shows them being physically and emotionally vulnerable at the same time. And it often represents a huge moment in the plot. They’re taking their relationship to a whole new level with this act of physical intimacy, and it feels all the more special when they’re able to voice their emotional connection with each other in this moment too.
Whether the characters are confessing their love or admitting that they really, really like each other or that they been fantasizing about this hot moment for ages, they all serve the same purpose: they’re being open and honest with one another by talking about their feelings, and that heightens the intimacy of the physical act of sex.
3. Don’t forget about protection.
I’m the kind of writer who wants to be realistic and responsible when writing love scenes, and contraception is part of that.
It doesn’t have to be some long, drawn-out discussion about birth control or condoms. It can just be a quick mention of a character grabbing a condom from their wallet or nightstand. Or something as simple as mentioning foil ripping in the middle of an especially hot scene. Or a character mentioning that they are on the pill, have an IUD, etc. Just something that establishes the characters are practicing responsible behavior in the midst of sexy times.
4. Add a bit of awkwardness.
Again, this plays into the realism aspect of my stories. Not every love scene goes off without a hitch from start to finish—and that’s okay. A bit of awkwardness can actually be endearing and make your characters even more lovable and relatable.
It can even serve as an opportunity to provide some comic relief, which can be a fun and lighthearted way to break the tension in the middle of such a hot moment.
Some of the awkward moments I’ve included in love scenes are clothing mishaps and being interrupted by loud noises/phone calls/family members/friends/coworkers/pets.
5. Always establish consent.
I’m of the opinion that when you write sex, you should always establish enthusiastic consent. It doesn’t have to be an awkward conversation. Consent can be very hot.
For example, here’s an exchange between the two main characters in my new romance On Location that establishes consent:
My hand stills against Drew’s stomach. “So…you like the way I’m touching you right now?”
He grunts another yes.
Slowly, I run my hand up his stomach, relishing the way each hard line feels under my palm. I stop on his chest, just over his heart, which is thundering inside of him. A quiet pant falls from his mouth.
He swallows. “You can do whatever you want to my body, Alia. Asleep, awake. Any time, any place. You have my permission.”
I tilt my head up, until our faces are barely inches apart. “I’m so attracted to you, Drew. Like, you have no idea.”
His half-smile turns full. It’s so bright it cuts through the darkness.
“It’s been a struggle not to drool over you while we’re shooting.” I tap my fingers against his chest, quietly delighting in the way his hard mass barely budges.
“It’s been the same for me. You’re beautiful, Alia. Every time I look at you, I feel like a creep because I can’t stop staring. I still can’t believe we ended up here.”
My heart melts in my chest. Whatever blip in the universe that resulted in us seeing each other again, I’m thankful for it.
He cups my cheeks with his hand. Closing my eyes, I hum.
“I’ve been trying not hardest not to pull you aside so we can finish that kiss we started that night we met.”
“We can finish it now.”
See? Super cute and very sexy conversation about consent. And not one bit clinical. It’s clear Alia and Drew have the hots for each other and are aching to go to town on one another.
I hope these tips help you with writing love scenes that are exciting and believable.
Sarah Smith is a copywriter turned author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. Her love of romance began when she was eight and she discovered her auntie’s stash of romance novels. She’s been hooked ever since – most recently with her books Faker (2019) and Simmer Down (2020). On Location comes out Fall 2021. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate, and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She lives in Bend, Oregon, with her husband and her adorable cat, Salem. Learn more at https://www.sarahsmithbooks.com, or you can teach her here on Twitter and Facebook!