Editors focus on ‘em and readers love ‘em, but hot scenes are not my favorite parts of a book to write.
Oh, now, you ask, how can I not enjoy the portrayal of passion between two enthusiastically consenting adults?
It’s mighty hard work, that’s how. Every scene in the book is supposed to advance plot, character or both—there’s hard work right there. Every scene is supposed to include tension at least, and outright conflict if the author can manage it—how does one have conflict while consummating 150 pages of erotic tension? Neither character is saying no to anything on the steamy pages—except to holding back. Throw in the fact that the hot scenes are about experiences practically every reader has some familiarity with—unlike stopping a runaway team of horses, catching the Hail Mary pass, or say, popping out of a cake—and the going just gets tougher.
Now add in the consideration that these are the scenes that will appear in some form in most romance novels, usually three to a book, and the challenges multiply.
Then too, however the characters heat up the sheets, they must do so in character, and in ways appropriate for their time period…. But not too appropriate. Cassanova advocated the use of half a lemon over his partner’s cervix as birth control, for example. Historical accuracy suggests that would be an interesting detail to include, most assuredly, but my heroines would have choice suggestions for what I ought to do with the other half of the lemon did I write Cassnova’s recommendation into a steamy scene.
And yet, given the choice, I do include fairly steamy pages in my books and I intend to keep following that precedent.
Why make my life more difficult this way?
One of my heroines said it best: When she is physically unclothed in private circumstances, it’s very difficult not to be emotionally exposed as well. THAT is the payoff for me as an author. In bed (or in a hammock or on a picnic blanket), my characters can challenge and make impressions on each other in ways they can’t under less intimate circumstances. Erotic moments are pressure cookers for character growth and pacing—they amp up heat and intensity, and oh, by the way, they keep the readers and editors happy.
And though they are beastly hard work—a great deal has to go right for the scene to carry the load assigned to it—if all the stars do align, the steamy scenes can yield the most memorable lines, the best writing, and the most convincing displays of character growth.
What about you? Easy, tough, in between? And readers, tell us the truth: Do you ever skip the hot scenes because they just don’t rivet your attention? What would keep you reading those pages before you turn them?
And oh, by the way, my heroes and heroines are all monitoring today’s blog, so we might hear from some of them in the comments.