One of the questions beginning writers ask us most often is: “How do you know if you have captured the love in your characters’ lovemaking, and aren’t just writing a run-of-the-mill sex scene?” 12 writers offer their own thoughts and advice in this unique WriteSex Author’s Roundtable. Each Monday a well-known romance author will discuss the difference between a sex scene and a love scene, and show us how to charge an erotic encounter with romance. Look for personal insights and how-to tips from our participants in this first ever WriteSex Authors’ Roundtable. —Ed.
By Sarah Bella
Ultimately, to me, the difference between a sex scene and a romantic sexual encounter is the intention of the characters. Are they just in it to get their rocks off? Nothing wrong with that, if so—some of my favorite scenes are pure erotica. On the other hand, if they’re looking to bond and grow with their partner, that bonding and growth is where I find the romance.
While the intentions of the characters in an erotic scene may define its level of romance, their overall stories may or may not. You can have a pair of strangers meet in a club and still have a romantic scene in the back hall of said club. In that same vein, a committed couple can absolutely have a sexual encounter completely devoid of romance.
So, then, what exactly do you write into your sexual encounters to define, maintain or escalate their romance? Constant declarations of love? Paragraphs of purple prose? I tend to have my characters turn inward—to focus not just on the physical experience of sex, but all the emotions that accompany it: the closeness they feel, the tenderness, that chest-bursting happiness they can’t get enough of.
In my latest book, Megan’s Desire, Megan finally drops her defenses one night, allowing herself and her maybe-boyfriend Tate to reach each other emotionally in a new and powerful way. Physically speaking, the scene below is 100% sex, but because we are kept intimately apprised of everything Megan thinks and feels, we can see how her connection to Tate grows in those moments:
Megan opened her legs, soft, warm, need, filling her—taking over. Her fingers traced the ropes of muscle in his arms. The very nearness of him soothed some primal need inside her. The maleness of him, meeting some unspoken need.
“You’re so beautiful like this, just waiting for me.” He pressed inside her; Megan relished the slow burn, the ache-quenching slide of him inside her.
He slid his knees beneath her butt and gripped her hips, plowing inside her.
Megan gripped the headboard above her, locked elbows saving her from a bed-induced headache. The new angle hit everything she needed it to. She hooked her legs around his waist, heels forcing him in deeper with each thrust.
Tate stared down at her with lust-filled eyes. Pure, unadulterated emotion rained down on her. Megan soaked it up, all his adoration, his passion, his belief in her. He wore it proudly, sharing that secret part of himself with her.
The close, the deep, the very there of him shook her. This was so far beyond anything she was ready for….
Megan isn’t just in the moment for an orgasm—her heart is broken and she’s looking for healing, for acceptance. She finds that perfection with Tate.
Happy reading, ladies and gents.
Sarah Bella is a small town Minnesota girl who calls pop by its proper name – pop. She is a multi-published author of romance and erotica who writes both novels and short stories in the romance, mystery/suspense, paranormal and erotica genres.
She loves traveling anywhere south of the equator and finds that a nice dark microbrew can help get the creative juices flowing. When she’s not writing or traveling, you can find Sarah with her nose buried in a book.
Sarah lives in the small town she grew up in with her husband, three children, her cat and her dog.