Revised and updated from a workshop I did several years ago, this post is all about using your characters to make your love scenes unique and intricate to your story. It has been posted in several parts over the last few months. If you’re a writer, this may help inspire you to write some of the most difficult scenes in your book: your sensual encounters. If you’re a reader, you will get lots of sneak peeks into the Relics of Merlin series, which is being re-released by Sourcebooks over the next few years.
The Relics of Merlin series of books are whimsical romances set in a magical Victorian London of sexy shape-shifters, enchanted tea, wicked spells and loose corsets. Since I’ll be using excerpts from several of the books in the series, I thought it might be helpful to have a quick overview of each:
Enchanting the Lady: In a world where magic rules everything, two misfits--Felicity Seymore, a Victorian beauty unable to perform even the simplest spell, and Sir Terence Blackwell, a were-lion searching for Merlin's relics--form a passionate alliance.
Double Enchantment: When Lady Jasmina accidentally creates a double of herself using a relic, the mix-up brings her real self into a compromising position with sexy were-stallion, Sir Sterling Thorn.
Enchanting the Beast: In the third book of the Relics of Merlin series, ghost-hunter Philomena Radcliff comes to Grimspell castle to rid the residence of spirits, but she finds most haunting of all a reclusive were-wolf suspected of murder.
Everlasting Enchantment: In this brand-new fourth book, Sir Gareth Solimere has been trapped inside of one of Merlin’s relics for centuries, and only true love will set him free. But when were-panther Lady Millicent Pantere steals the relic, will she be his salvation or his doom?
So why am I doing a post on (gasp) sex scenes? Because several friends of mine said it was the hardest thing for them to write. Since they are my favorite part of the book to write, I thought I’d share how I do it and hopefully it will be helpful to others. Since I always seem to learn better by example, I’ll be giving examples from all my books to show how my love scenes are a development of my characters, plot and setting. I’m sure there are many other ways to develop a love scene, so let this be an inspiration and not a rule. If you’ve read any of my other posts on writing, you know my favorite motto is: there are no rules in writing, just guidelines.
(Read my previous posts on this subject by searching for the title in the LABELS or CATEGORIES in the far right sidebar.)
SIX: USING SETTING
Put your characters into a setting and allow their reactions to their environment write and shape the scene for you. I used that shamelessly in my first novel, and in Enchanting the Beast:
A pool of clear water sat in the middle of the glade, fed by several springs that appeared to flow from the top of an enormous crystal boulder that jutted out over the surface of the pond. White falls of water hid the cavern beneath the boulder and Phil imagined that the crystal surface would fairly sparkle in the sunshine.
The overcast day only appeared to make it glow.
Not that she could see much of the sky above. Gorchids grew to enormous proportions all around the edges of the pool, their stems so heavily laden with blooms that she could barely see the green of their leaves. Pale lavender flowers with ruffled edges vied with star-shaped sepals enclosing frilly white petals. Clusters of deeply pink flowers with burgundy insides grew next to vibrantly blue-spotted petals with tiger-striped tops. Phil took a few steps out onto the mossy bank and breathed deeply. The combined perfumes made her feel almost drunk with delight.
A gust of wind curled through the glade and the flowers danced, the sound of their petals rubbing together like a delicate symphony. Phil had never heard the like. Some loose petals floated into the pond, creating a soft carpet of color on the rippling surface.
She reached down and trailed her fingers in the crystal water. It felt surprisingly warm. Phil crouched and scooped up the liquid and bathed her face, removing the last vestiges of sorrow from her encounter with an illusory Tup. She sat back on the spongy moss and closed her eyes, allowing the peace of the glade to soothe her.
“What an enchanting place,” she murmured.
“I knew you’d like it,” said Nico. “Come on, let’s go for a swim. It was hot beneath the willows.”
Phil glanced over her shoulder and gaped. “What on earth do you think you’re doing?”
Nico’s chest was bare, all that golden brown skin gleaming even in the cloudy daylight. His boots and shirt already lay on the carpet of moss and he’d started to undo the buttons of his trousers. “I always swim in just my skin. Don’t you?”
Even if you’re not writing fantasy, consider how putting your characters into different settings can make their love scenes unique. What about silk sheets on a bed? Making love in a park, a forest? Even an alley or bathroom nightclub can contribute to a different reaction from your characters and pull in different sensations. And consider the weather. Are they sitting in front of a cozy fire while it’s snowing outside? Is it a brilliant sunny day? Or is it raining, as shown in the following excerpt from Enchanting the Beast?
Nico lifted her and lowered her onto his shaft with a swiftness that took her breath away. Then his firm hands squeezed her bottom and he lifted her up. The rain came down in earnest then, pelting their heads and faces, and Nico copied the rhythm of the storm. Phil held on for dear life, the sky pounding her from above and Nico pounding her below. The force of her body shattering with pleasure took her by surprise and she screamed his name, the wind drowning her cry and carrying it away.
Think of the setting your characters are in, then allow them to react to that setting. And let’s not forget to incorporate other elements, like the weather, to add to the intensity of your love scene. This is where you can really take advantage of your five senses to not only craft your scene, but to make it come alive for your reader. Consider what your characters are feeling, hearing, smelling, touching and tasting.
This is my last installment of LET YOUR CHARACTERS WRITE YOUR LOVE SCENES. If you’re a writer, I hope you found this look into my writing process helpful and inspiring. If you’re a reader, I do hope you enjoyed a peek into some of the intimate moments of my heroes and heroines in the RELICS OF MERLIN series.
With All My Magical Best,