Oh My!

A graphic of a pair of red lips.

I’ve had some interesting feedback from some of the men who’ve been reading my romance novels. They tell me they’ve really enjoyed reading my sex scenes. Apparently, I have a talent I didn’t know I had. To quote George Takei, “Oh, my!”

Well, I must confess. I’ve actually done some research on how to write effective love┬áscenes, and I’m happy to explain the techniques I use.

First, I take my time to build the sexual tension between my characters. The build up happens slowly. Arousal starts innocently, with hands accidentally brushing, or someone touching a forearm. The man may find the lady’s dress sexy. Sometimes horseplay turns into foreplay.

Certain body parts are never mentioned by name. I’m writing romance, not a medical textbook. My goal is to describe what the characters are feeling. I’ll refer to it with words such as, “she felt a sweet sensation.” We all know what happens during the act. My editor came up with a wonderful way to refer to it. “Reaching his (or her) release.” Oftentimes I’ll use the words such as climax, ecstasy or, the two briefly became one, when describing the euphoria the characters are experiencing.

In addition, I don’t use much dialogue during my love scenes. Two people who love each other, and are making love for the first time, probably won’t be in the mood for chatting. Likewise, too much dialogue would interrupt the flow of the story. I save the dialog for the pillow talk scene in the next chapter. One thing I will do, however, is to try to instill a sense of responsibility in my characters. Oftentimes the lady will be asked if she’s using birth control, or the man will stop to apply a condom. Most importantly, if the characters are making love for the first time, the man will ask the woman if she’s okay with what’s about to happen. My leading men are strong and masculine, but they also know to respect a woman’s boundaries.

And, finally, I only use these scenes to enhance the plot, and I use them sparingly. There are usually no more than two or three such scenes throughout my entire novel. My stories are about people and their relationships, and there’s a whole lot more to a romantic relationship than just sex.

Marina Martindale