About Writing Love Scenes

© Can Stock Photo/
prometeus

Contrary to popular belief, there are men out there who read romance novels. I also once knew a male romance author. It’s an interesting genre, and the stories can range from squeaky clean sweet romance to jaw dropping erotica. 

I’ve had some interesting feedback from some of my male readers. They often tell me they really enjoyed reading the sex scenes. Okay, good to know, (she writes as she blushes.) I write sensual romance, which includes some sex scenes, but unlike erotica, the sex scenes aren’t the main focus of the story. Most of the action takes place outside of the bedroom.

How sex scenes work in sensual romance

Before I started writing contemporary romance, I took the time to research how to write effective love scenes. As with any fiction writing, there is a technique for creating a sensual, believable love scene. I used Anais Nin as a model. Her work is definitely sensual, but by no means overtly graphic. 

First, I build the sexual tension between the characters. Arousal begins slowly and oftentimes innocently. Hands accidentally brush. Someone squeezes a hand or touches a forearm during a conversation. Spontaneous horseplay turns into foreplay.

Before making love for the first time, the woman will usually be asked if she’s okay with what’s about to happen. I think it’s important to clearly establish that both characters are consenting adults. However, this may vary, depending on the story. In The Deception, Alex and Carrie have known one another since they were children. They’ve been in love for years, but both kept their feelings hidden. When the moment of truth finally arrives, no words were necessary. 

As I get into the scene, certain body parts may be referred to, but are never mentioned by name. I’m writing romance, not a medical textbook. My goal is to describe what the characters are feeling, both physically and emotionally. I use words such as, she felt a sweet sensation. My editor came up with a wonderful way to refer to an orgasm. She called it, reaching his (or her) release. I’ll also use the words such as climax, ecstasy, or the two  became one, to describe the euphoria the characters are experiencing.

These scenes are included to enhance the overall storyline, and I use them sparingly. Again, this is romance, not erotica. Most novels will typically have two or three love scenes. The primary focus of the story is the relationship, and there’s a whole lot more to a romantic relationship than just sex.


Marina Martindale

Can Men and Women Be Friends?

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Can a man and a woman just be platonic friends? It’s a discussion I’ve had with people over the years. Some say yes. Others say no.

My only siblings were two older brothers, so I grew up around boys. As an adult I’ve had many wonderful non-romantic friendships with men, some of which lasted for years. Even today I have male friends who are single and heterosexual, just like me, but we’ve never taken the friendship to the next level. I simply don’t feel the romantic attraction, even though I genuinely like them as people and enjoy their company. Of course I have had some friendships which, over time, grew to something more, but they were the rare exception.

I’m including a male/female platonic relationship in my next contemporary romance novel, The Diversion. Those of you who are familiar with my other contemporary romance novels may have noticed that my female leads all have a close female friend and confidant. However, I like a little variety, so this time around my female lead’s close friend and confidant will be a heterosexaul man. She thinks of him as the brother she never had, and he thinks of her as his other sister. No, they won’t be taking their relationship to the next level, although I may do this scenario in a future contemporary romance novel. For the moment, however, I’m still trying to decide which man she’ll end up with, but it definitely won’t be her platonic male friend.  

Marina Martindale

Rules for Dating a Writer

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A few years ago I came across a Facebook meme a musician friend had posted about the rules for dating a musician. It was an interesting read which made the point about a gig not being a date, and to not expect your significant other to give you their undivided attention as interacting with the public is part of their job.

Writers, like musicians, have unconventional jobs. We generally don’t work a normal 9 to 5 work week. Many of us have day jobs. We oftentimes have do our writing after hours, and sometimes we have deadlines. After all, our books won’t write themselves. And while we very much appreciate your love and support, chances are we’re not going to be your typical boyfriend or girlfriend. Like musicians, we too have our own set of dating rules, most of which will also apply if you have a family member who’s an author.

Marina Martindale

 

the rules for dating a writer

  1. Writing is our passion. It is not a hobby.
  2. Authors and writers are often introverts. Please don’t mistake our quietness for conceit or arrogance.
  3. Writing is not a performance art. Please allow us the time and space to work on our craft.
  4. Please don’t quiz us about our works in progress. If we want you to know what we’re working on we’ll be happy to tell you about it.
  5. Never, ever look over our shoulders while we’re writing!
  6. A missed deadline can be a career killer. If we tell you we’re on a deadline it doesn’t mean we’re trying to avoid you. It means we’re on a deadline.
  7. Please don’t tell us about this great idea you have for a book unless you’re actually writing it.
  8. If we want your feedback we’ll ask you for it. If we don’t, then please don’t tell us what you think we should be writing.
  9. Please don’t ask us to make you into a character in one of our books.
  10. A book signing is for engaging with fans and promoting our books. It’s not a place for you to hang out.
  11. Please don’t brag to your families, friends and coworkers about how you’re dating an author. We’re not trophies.
  12. Please don’t ask us for free copies of our books for your friends and coworkers.
  13. Never ask us how much money we made on our last book, or how many books we’ve sold, unless you want us to quiz you about how much money you job pays you.
  14. We work in an extremely competitive business and we can’t all be as famous Stephen King or J.K. Rowling. Never confuse talent with fame.

Would a Guy Really Say That?

An attractive young man leaning against a wall.
© Can Stock Photo / javiindy

The differences between men and women are more than just physical. A woman’s psyche is also different from a man’s. A challenge I face as a contemporary romance author is writing a male character’s dialog. I’m always having to stop and ask myself, would a guy really say that?

Years ago I read a book called, Men Are from Mars Women Are from Venus. And while I can’t recall all of the details, I do remember it talked extensively about how men are more analytical, and women are more emotional. This doesn’t mean one sex is superior to the other. It simply means that men and woman think differently. So, I’ve modeled my male characters accordingly. The female characters will talk openly about their relationships, while the men are more prone to retreat to their man caves.

Jeremy Palmer, a character from two of my contemporary romance novels,  The Reunion, and The Journey is particularly known to do this. The challenge for me is when I have to have a male character discussing his relationship. I am, after all, writing contemporary romance. The main focus of the story is interpersonal relationships. So do men really talk about things like this?

One way I’ve handled it by having a male character confide in a female character. In my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, Steve, a supporting character, talks to his fiancee about his concerns over Alex’s relationship with Carrie.

an excerpt from The Deception.

“Is something wrong, Steve?”

“I’m afraid so.”

“What is it?”

“Alex and Carrie. C’mon, you saw it. They’ve become much too emotionally attached to one another.”

“They go way back,” she said.

“No, there’s more to it than that. He’s fallen for her. Hard. Really, really hard.”

“Is that such a bad thing?”

“In itself, no. They’re two of my favorite people and under normal circumstances I’d be happy for both of them, but their situation isn’t normal. He’s representing her in a civil case and he’s losing his objectivity.”

“Are you sure?”

“Yes,” he said, matter-of-factly.

***

This time, in another excerpt from The Deception, the conversation is between two men. I let them get to the point, as quickly as possible. They then discuss a solution. Had this scene been between two female characters more time would have been spent discussing their feelings

another excerpt from The Deception

Steve looked up when he heard someone tapping at his door. “Hey, Alex. What’s up?”

“I need to talk to you about something.”

“Of course. Come on in.”

Alex stepped inside, closed the door behind him, and pulled up a chair. He let out a sigh as he sat down.
 
“Are you all right, Alex? You look pretty serious.”
 
“I’m afraid your boy wonder has turned himself into boy blunder.”
 
Steve looked closer at Alex’s face. “You’ve slept with her, haven’t you?”
 
“Yeah.”
 
“Well now, that explains the happy glow.”
 
“Oh very funny.” There was a hint of sarcasm in Alex’s voice.
 
“Well, buddy, I can’t say I’m surprised. I saw this coming the day we all drove up to Flagstaff for her mother’s funeral. So, you know what happens next, don’t you?”
 
“Yeah, I do. I’ll have to recuse myself from her case.”
 
“It’s for the best for everyone involved, Alex. Even if you hadn’t taken it to that level, I’ve been concerned about your objectivity ever since the day you flipped out after speaking to Scott Andrews on the phone. That’s not like you. You never lose your cool. If something like that had happened in a courtroom—”
 
“It’ll never see the inside of a courtroom, Steve. Louise doesn’t have a case. She never did.”
 
“I know she doesn’t. Hopefully you’re right and it’ll never make it to court. However, our immediate concern is the here and now, which means we need to talk to Reggie.”
 
Before Alex could respond, Steve picked up his phone and dialed Reggie’s extension. As soon as she answered Steve asked her to come to his office. A minute later they heard a knock at the door. Steve opened it and Reggie stepped inside, bringing a folder with her.
 
***
 

I don’t know if this is how men really talk to one another behind closed doors or not. But if what I’m told by male friends, and by the John Gray book, is true, then I’m probably close. So far I’ve not heard any complaints from male readers.


Marina Martindale

The Two Kinds of Other Women

A graphic of red lips.

The inspiration for my contemporary romance novel,  The Deception, began a few years ago when I happened upon a psychic’s blog. She was discussing the questions her clients asked the most often. One question was, “When will he leave his wife for me?”

Needless to say, her post had a lot of comments, and I noticed a trend. Everyone believed the other woman knew he was married, and that she was lying if she said she didn’t know.

Being single for most of my adult life, I’ve noticed there are actually two kinds of other women out there. One is the aforementioned mistress. The other is a good woman who’s been deceived.

The good woman who’s been deceived


Typically, this is a woman looking for meaningful long-term relationship, or marriage. She happens to meet a seemingly nice man who appears to be single. He’s not wearing a wedding ring. He’s never mentioned a wife or girlfriend. In some cases, a mutual friend nay have he was single. He asks her out. Believing he’s single and available, she accepts, and they begin dating. 

Sooner or later, one way or another, she’ll find out he’s married. Once that happens, she’ll feel shocked and betrayed. However, she gets a double whammy. Everyone will side with the wife, and the wife is most certainly an injured party. However, just like in the psychic’s blog, everyone will condemn deceived woman for being the other woman. And if she says she didn’t know he was married, (because she honestly didn’t know), they’ll accuse her of lying. So where is the condemnation for the man? After all, he’s the one who lied to her. And he’s the one who duped her into thinking he was single.

This can be extremely devastating for the deceived woman, and it can do untold damage to her sense of self worth. She’s being wrongfully accused of setting out to intentionally hurt the wife when she honestly didn’t know there was a wife. This can leave her with some serious trust issues.

The Deception


The Deception is the story of Carrie, a good woman who, unknowingly, becomes involved with a married man. A mutual friend has told her he’s single, and the married man has also led her to believe he’s single. It doesn’t take long, however, for her to realize that thing aren’t adding up. She soon ends the relationship, but by then the damage has been done. As a result, she’s left to deal with the unintended consequences.

While my story may be fiction, real-life versions of it happen everyday, so perhaps we shouldn’t judge others too harshly. After all, none of us are mind readers, and there really are people out there who lie and deceive others.

Marina Martindale

The Deception is available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.

Sweet Sensual or Erotic Romance?

 
© Can Stock Photo / songbird839

The romance genre, including contemporary romance, has three distinct sub-genres. They are:

  • Sweet Romance
  • Sensual Romance
  • Erotic Romance or Erotica

Sweet Romance is squeaky clean. There is no sex. All passion is expressed through kissing, hand holding and perhaps brushing a hand along a face. If it were a movie, it would be rated PG.

Sensual Romance includes a few sex scenes. They are used to enhance the plot, but unlike erotica, in sensual romance there is no harsh language. The descriptions are not overtly graphic. The emphasis is on the character’s emotions as they consummate their relationship, but unlike erotica, the plot line doesn’t revolve around the sex scenes. Most of the action takes place outside of the bedroom. 

Erotic Romance is all about the sex. The descriptions can be quite graphic. It may include variations such as threesomes, orgies or bondage. The story really isn’t about two people falling in love. It’s about the characters having sex and plenty of it.

Why I write sensual romance

I write sensual contemporary romance because it’s the sub-genre I enjoy reading, and it’s what today’s readers expect. My lead characters make love once they’re emotionally invested in the relationship. Then, once their relationship is consummated, I typically don’t write another sex scene because it would be redundant. The only exception would be if the characters have been separated for a period of time and are reestablishing their relationship.

From time to time, however, a character becomes involved with the wrong person for the wrong reasons. Typically, this happens early in the story, before the two lead characters have begun their relationship. On those occasions I may approach the sex scenes a little differently.

For example, in The Deception, lead character, Carrie’s  long-term relationship has ended unexpectedly. A short time later meets Scott. He knows Carrie is emotionally vulnerable, so he uses it to his advantage. Because Scott is a one of the villains in the story, the sex scenes between him and Carrie are a little racier, but even then, the scenes aren’t overly graphic. I’m more interested in what the characters are feeling in the moment. 

If you’re looking for sweet, squeaky-clean romance I’m afraid you won’t find it in any of the contemporary romance novels I write. However, if you’re looking for a believable story that will leave you feeling satisfied as a reader, I hope you’ll consider giving one of my books a read.

Marina Martindale

Update: The Deception is now available on Amazon and Barnesandnoble.com.