I wrote this for RT's Diva's Dish panel on Erotica, but I didn't get to go. Mike had to go to the ER. So because I'm loathe to waste a handout, here it is:
1.) The reader should feel the sexual tension start to build between the hero and heroine from their first glance. As many times as I’ve written love scenes, there are times I find it almost impossible to get a couple into bed. That’s usually because I’ve neglected to build sexual attraction because I’m focused on the romantic conflict.
2.) The elements of seduction:
A.) As Linda Howard says in her “12 Steps to Intimacy,” there is a definite pattern to seduction. The guy has to gain the woman’s trust and acceptance before he can make love to her. This is done in a natural set of steps.
I.) First is a quick look – is this person attractive? If so, the couple makes eye contact and smile. Then the guy can come over and start a conversation. You need to show an emotional connection start growing between them as they talk and look at one another. Boy, he’s hot! Wow, she’s sexy!
II.) Then and only then can he move forward with the seduction by touching her hand, then her shoulders, then her waist. These touches may appear to be casual or accidental, but they’re not, and both characters know it.
III.) Next comes the first kiss, which needs to be given a lot of attention. The kiss is a precursor to lovemaking, an indication of what we and the heroine can expect. How skillful is he? How tender? Build the anticipation.
IV.) Now we can start the actual foreplay, but that can’t begin until you lay the groundwork with the early stages of seduction. Think about it: if some guy just came up and grabbed your breasts, you’d slug him, scream, and call a cop. You have to build the attraction first.
3.) Do not treat your love scenes as porn breaks in the middle of the story. This is a problem I see even among mainstream published romance writers. They know their editors expect a love scene somewhere around chapter seven, so they just stick one in. The characters have a mechanical kind of sex that doesn’t really reflect the development of their romance or who they are as people.
A.) Think about what you can show with this scene. What kind of people are they? Is he dominant and aggressive? Is she sensual or unsure of herself? Is there humor – and there really should be, because humor humanizes characters and makes them seem more three-dimensional. What’s the romantic conflict?
4.) Don’t make your characters too stupid to live.
A.) In general, if it’s something you wouldn’t do, don’t have your heroine do it. If you wouldn’t pick a complete stranger up in a bar and have unprotected sex, your heroine shouldn’t do it. If you wouldn’t let a stranger tie you up for sex games, she definitely shouldn’t do that.
5.) For erotic romance to work, the love scenes need to be fun. You can have angst coming out of your ears everywhere else in the book, but when those characters get into bed, they have a very good time. They may be angry with one another to start out with, but the sex needs to rapidly morph into something lighter. If the sex is too emotionally heavy, it’s not going to be fun, just disturbing.
A.) Avoid characters with serious psychosexual issues, such as frigidity due to rape. The minute the sex becomes a form of therapy, you’ve lost about ninety percent of your heat.
6.) Things to think about when planning a love scene:
A.) Location. Go for someplace that is naturally sensual – a garden, a pool. Probably not a gynecologist’s office...
B.) Who makes the first move? Let them take turns.
C.) Where are these characters in their journey to love? What’s their mood going into the scene? Are they angry? Frightened? Just plain horny? Use that. Express the emotion in the way they touch. Maybe he knows she’s scared, so he’s particularly tender with her. Focus on the feeling, because it’s that emotion that will make your happily ever after believable.
For more, check out Passionate Ink: A Guide to Writing Erotic Romance by Angela Knight, ISBN-10: 1596323906 or ISBN-13: 978-1596323902. Angela’s website is www.angelasknights.com.