Updated: Jan 8
#1. Proceed with caution when involving children.
You would think this one would be obvious. However, I’ve recently read novels with very awkward scenes involving kids. Anyone up for characters having sex with a baby sleeping between them? How about toddlers interrupting adults in the middle of the act? No? As a parent, I mean—I get it. Kids happen. As a romance author—it’s my job to show you how or when they happened. As a reader—I don’t know how to say this, except…eww. One might even say yuck. We know these scenarios happen in real life, but we read novels to get away from real life. Of course, if you think your readers enjoy the relatability of this more than they’ll cringe from it; then, feel free to disregard this one.
#2. Consider your characters’ perspective.
We all know people who don’t fit the social norms. Maybe you have a girlfriend who cusses like a sailor, farts in public, or picks her nose with zero f’s to give. Perhaps a man in your life reads romance novels and prefers a good rom-com over the latest action film. However, if your goal is to appeal to the masses, you don’t want to venture too far away from those norms. Most people at least toe the line and your characters should reflect that in what they say and do. If you have a very specific audience, make sure you don’t alienate them by doing the opposite of things that caused them to fall in love with that genre or style of writing.
#3. Use your environment.
Are your characters in an area where some privacy is expected? Yes? Then it’s fair game for a good old-fashioned Romp Fest. You may not want to use the term Romp Fest—unless you’re going for a “cute and campy” vibe. Don’t be afraid to use everyday things in a new way. In my book, The Raven’s Call, my leading man, Mitch, takes advantage of his lady's collection of throw pillows by having her hold one between her hands until he locates something to tie them together with. His restraint of choice? Well, let’s just say as a 20-year veteran of the CIA, he’s learned the fine art of using what’s in easy reach. Yes, that scene really exists and no, I’m not making that up. Ok, technically I DID make that up since I’m the author.
#4. Don’t be afraid to go vanilla but consider a twist.
I know I said it’s best if you don’t rock the boat on what your readers are expecting, but when it comes to love scenes—you want to make sure you aren’t putting them to sleep. I’m not sure you’re gonna be able to keep the interest of every one of your reader’s because a lot of us have read hundreds—even thousands—of them. As a reader, I’ve been guilty in recent years of skipping completely over the “money scenes.” As a writer though, it’s important to know not every love scene has to be the most creative thing you’ve likely never done. Ok, or would admit you’ve done. This one ties into #3 because one way to spice things up is by making the place where the magic happens be the unique part about it. (In the middle of a lake, anyone? Oh, right—me neither.)
#5. Terminology is important!
The best way to determine how to write about something that can be—let’s face it—a bit awkward to describe, is to figure out the heat level you are comfortable with and your readers will be expecting. Let me start by stating no one wants to see terms like “no-no spot” or “trouser snake.” Just sayin’. But if you blush at words that rhyme with “rock” and “the china,” you can probably knock off Level 4 (Sizzling Hot) and Level 5 (Explicit Heat). If clean, wholesome fun is more your cup of tea, that is perfectly fine. Focus more on hearts and flowers and less on birds and bees. Done. My writing tends to end up in the middle—appendages and orifices will be mentioned, or at least heavily alluded to. I let the nature of my characters determine the exact verbiage, even if I’m squirming uncomfortably while typing it (I’m lookin’ at you, word that rhymes with rock).