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Author Topic: Love scenes - can't write one
Member # 9036

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My story requires a sort of romantic scene and I can't seem to write it... It's probably due to some abuse from my childhood, but every time I start it makes me extremely uncomfortable, therefore not believeable. I don't even try to write typical "love scenes", just romantic... This is very frustrating for me. Any advice (not too graphic please ;D)
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Member # 8514

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maybe your just trying too hard. something that works for me is to not think about what im writing untill after ive written it. that way, I can (kinda) see it through someone elses eyes, because I dont remember writing it, so technically, I didnt write it. at least, thats what I tell myself.

let me know if this helps.

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Member # 8368

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Well, can you be a little more specific? A "romantic" scene can be anything from him giving her flowers, their first kiss, or on up.

Probably the best piece of general advice is to focus on what the characters are feeling more than on what they're doing. We all probably can picture that reasonably well for ourselves.

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Bent Tree
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I'll write it for you for ten percent
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Member # 8631

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I think romantic scenes are not that much different than any other scenes. You need to put your personal feelings aside and focus on your characters. In this situation, what would they say, do, think, and feel, then write it. If you know your characters well enough, you can do it.

It also helps to pretend that no one will ever read it but you.

[This message has been edited by MAP (edited March 13, 2010).]

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Member # 8329

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It's your story, in your voice, in your words, with your narrator. At some level then, if it's out of character for your narrator to render such a scene in detail, then perhaps you really shouldn't. Perhaps there's simply another way for your narrator to give the reader the desired effect of the love scene, without actually resorting to it.
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Member # 8182

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It's probably due to some abuse from my childhood...

Is it probably - or it is? It's a difficult (sometimes very painful) thing to even think about and approach - but it might be something you want to come to terms with. Sometimes sharing with other victims and hearing their thoughts and witnessing how they live their daily lives successfully may help. Even a few sessions with a therapist can work wonders. Sharing works wonders - it's a way of standing as who you are and knowing someone accepts you as is.

In terms of benefits to writing, I have no idea if therapy might help in that area. Can it hurt? Maybe writing specifically about your abuse might help. But love scenes won't be the only thing that will be affected. Any relationship between a child and adult may be affected also. This is not necessarily a bad thing - just something to be aware of.

For right now, probably the questions to ask are what parts of the love scene don't seem real to you? Try identifying lines that make you stop reading on. Is it the dialogue? The description of the physical act? The age differences? Does it have to do with sexual orientation? Is it the idea that love may not be real and the whole thing seems fake? Can be many reasons...

On a broader sense of story, you can ask what's the purpose of the love scene? How does it serve the story? How does it change you characters and how does that affect your characters down the line? Not just the vague idea of "being in love" but a real specific interpretation. How would that modify your characters actions given their past history? Usually, you see stuff like the bitter selfish character ending up sacrificing their life for their beloved, or a miser signing over their entire fortune, or a good person killing someone in cold blood when they wouldn't have harmed someone. Yeah, cliches. But it's happened enough times.

Also ask if the love scene is really needed in the story. Do you need it as an emotional event or a just a plot point that can be reworked as something else?

Hope that helps some.

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Member # 8612

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Love scenes are tricky for me... and when I say love scenes I pretty much mean any scene where a romantic relationship is blossoming. This means first meetings, fights, first kisses, etc. In the work in progress I am progressively working on, I had trouble with this. I intended that one of the major thrusts of the story be a romance (not the Fabio-look-alike on the cover genre, but you know... sappy love story stuff mixed with good action and a evil dudes...) but found I couldn't write them well.

I decided to get a book of short story romances... ok, ok, so my wife had one that she ordered off Amazon, and I read it. But the moral of the story is that I read it looking for what made those types of stories effective, so I could incorporate stuff. In the end, it boils down to the same advice that often pops up when trying to improve my writing: find out what others have done and try emulating what I like about it.

For what it is worth, I found that many of the stories had very strong male and female leads, the types of characters who outwardly are independent, confident, arrogant, assertive, etc. The kind of people that don't "need" another to fulfill themselves. But that was only their outward appearance. In reality, they had some flaw that was complementary to a strong quality in the companion. Thus, while there was initial antagonism between the two, there was vast realms of compatibility.

They often fought at the beginning, getting on each other's nerves, undermining their authority, etc.

Many stories also had characters meet who initially both were attracted to the other, were kept apart by societal conventions (arranged marriages, different social status, etc...)

On a practical level, many of the stories would move back and forth between the two romantic character's points of view, showing how they reacted to the other character, what their emotions were, and what they wanted from the other. This was most effective when we could see that the impressions one had were directly opposite what the other was thinking. I found that very interesting.

Anyways, hope that helps...

[This message has been edited by Teraen (edited March 13, 2010).]

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Robert Nowall
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I gave up writing all but the simplest of love scenes---write what you know, right?---anything more complex comes out embarrassing...and anything more detailed comes out looking like an anatomy lesson.
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Member # 8714

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I actually like to write these types of scenes. But I agree with Meredith, it's better to focus on feelings rather than actions. And you can keep the actions minimal, sort of teasing and then fade to black when the time is right. I think most readers are fine with filling in the blanks.

I'm sorry that you had an abusive situation. I can't imagine what kind of effect that would have. But I hope if you focus on the characters interaction rather than getting to 'the deed', maybe you can work around it.

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Member # 7760

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In my opinion, romantic tension is best when it is written with the same weight as suspense. If a person pulled a gun on you how would you feel? Stressed, scared, focused only on the moment, your heartbeat would speed up. All of these things can be used successfully in a love scene. I have an issue with authors who make their characters love without any fear, because it is that fear that makes a love scene exciting.

You, Posie, have an advantage here over the average writer. You have an extra helping of fear. Use it. Make your characters feel the same way you do. If you think the moment is awkward, I advise you to make the character think it is awkward.

Love scenes don't work when they don't ring true. Add your own truth to them, and then, no matter what it sounds like, it will work.

Good luck,

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Member # 9036

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I don't mean I was "probably" abused, I just don't know if that's what's causing me to have difficulties writing a romantic scene (it most likely is). It doesn't traumatize me or anything, just uncomfortable and the writing sounds...wrong.

I have been to counseling and most of my "issues" have been resolved (how can they ever be truly gone-erased). I've confronted, forgiven all that stuff. I don't have anger associated with it anymore, just some left-overs (I guess you could call it). I've actually thought about writing about my experiences, but that might be too difficult?

I have a great relationship with husband and kids, but I've never been terribly "romantic". I hug and give kisses and show love, but some forms of intimacy are mildly difficult (husband has no problems ) But WRITING it... I also have difficulty writing about feelings (which could be why I narrate-info dump so much)

Good advice on just kind of writing as if I'm someone else, I have gotten some written.

Meredith - the romantic scene(s) is about my MC falling in love with the guy she originally thought was a murderer/rich jerk. I wanted to show the process and feelings from when she dis-likes him to love. I don't do sex scenes, so it would just be kiss perhaps, mostly describing feelings. Romantic feelings are hard for me to put into words due to my discomfort/vulnerability maybe?

Bent Tree - I might just taken you up on that offer! ;D

Map - and yes, no one can EVER read it! I can "pretend that".

BenM - That's kind of what I'm trying to do...give the effect of a love scene without the "details". that's the tough part for me.

Sheena - Use my fear... I like that. I'll have to think how to integrate that...

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Member # 7977

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In my experiments with writing romantic scenes in various styles, I've always felt that a dash of humor goes a long way; it helps the scene feel more real to me. I've found the scenes of that nature in books that I actually enjoyed often had that same spark. Romance/Dating/Kissing/GettingItOn are all tricky, messy (in one way or another), and comical situations by nature. The funniest part to me is the seemingly universal human desire not to do something funny that would "kill the mood."

Focusing on emotions rather than physical actions is a good thing to keep in mind, but the effects of physical actions on emotions can be both illuminating to the readers and keep the story moving. A handful of examples paraphrased from bits I've put together (I'm not looking at the stories right this second...)

  • A 30ish female MC, on a "spy" mission has her (male) partner unexpectedly pull her aside and start making out with her, which he explains is more or less to blend in. She's annoyed at first, then even more annoyed... Dammit, am I actually starting to enjoy this? Just because it's the first time in, oh gods, how long since I've gotten any action. I'm still definitely going to kill him when we get out of here.
  • A 20-y.o. bookish virgin, the first time he gets laid: Ohmygodohmygodohmygod... this is it! And... wait, that's it? Isn't it supposed to be more... I dunno, something?
  • Hailey awoke to the sound of the sink turning on. Damn. She hated waking up second. Malloy came out of the bathroom, fully dressed, rubbing aftershave into his cheeks. Damn again. It was even worse when the guy was fully dressed while she was still starkers under the sheets.

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Member # 3574

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I'm sorry about the abuse you suffered. Perhaps you can work some of your issues out with your writing.

I enjoy writing romantic scenes - they're great fun! When I need to write one, I let my fantasies run wild for a while, then rein them in to a more reasonable (less embarrassing!) state. I'm kind of a "fade to black" kind of writer, but I also love writing the intense feelings involved. It's fun to portray them meeting, the girl deciding the guy's a creep, no wait, he's actually rather sweet, but she's not interested, no wait, maybe she is. . . .

Love scenes should be playful and fun, at least here and there. Think about books and movies you've read and seen that had romances that captured your imagination. Perhaps you like things like "Romancing the Stone" - girl meets boy, girl can't stand boy, girl is intrigued by boy (who is cute and funny and sexy as heck), they get together, they're torn apart, they reunite, all amid lots of action and strife and humor. That's my kind of book or movie! Perhaps you like the ones with a slower, more subtle buildup, ending in a rather chaste kiss. Whatever your taste, immerse yourself in the kind of romantic story, book or film that appeals to you and figure out what it is that you like about them. Then change your name to something completely different, just for this exercise (I'm serious! - using a fake name can really free your mind from its internal censor), and write the scene as if nobody you know will ever read it. Let your imagination fly! And have FUN with it!

Hope this helps!

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Member # 3280

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This woman blogs about classes she takes and is currently taking a class on writing sex scenes. Maybe something here will help.


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