30K – The Lexicon of Love Scenes

The moment I have been dreading is almost here. I can hear its hot and heavy footsteps in the distance, lumbering towards me with an unstoppable force.

At some point very soon, I’m going to have to write my first ever love scene.

Actually, it isn’t my first ever love scene, because in Interplanetary Homesick Blues I originally had a love scene between Cal and Droov which took place on the floor of Phyliss’ ship. I took it out though, as there was too much going on to give the romance space to breathe, and decided that if I was every going to write a second book, I would put it in there.

But now I’m writing the second book, and I see a very logical moment heading my way in about 4,000 words where a love scene would be a perfect culmination of the events of the book thus far.

And I am terrified.

I just don’t want it to be shit. Love scenes walk such a fine line between emotion and cliché, sincerity and accidental hilarity. They are so intimate and precious and yet we, as readers, are the audience for this moment hearing every word, seeing every nuance. How do I stop it being uncomfortable for the reader to get through?

I guess I’ve done the difficult part already, which is create two good characters on their own arcs who will crash into each other emotionally. So it won’t feel like it comes out of nowhere. And I think I can handle the emotional side, with the interplay between what the characters are thinking and feeling, and how that then manifests in how they behave.

I think what I am essentially asking is ‘how hot and heavy do I make this?’

I don’t want this to be porn, and I don’t want it to be so explicit that people feel awkward lending the book to each other. But, at the same time, I don’t just want the characters to start kissing and then have the camera pan away artfully. There has to be a middle ground where you have these two characters, who know each other intimately, suddenly grappling with this whole new aspect of their relationship. That’s interesting, and potentially hilarious (in an intentional way) and I want to lean into that if I can. But it’s going to be hard to nail the tone, and it will likely take a few drafts before it is not terrible.

But maybe that’s OK. Maybe I shouldn’t worry too much about getting it perfect in the first draft. Maybe I should just start making a move, and see what happens.

That’s how this romance stuff works, right?

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