Before we begin, a reminder that Aaron is holding a sweepstakes on his author interview with me. Comment here for a chance to win ecopies of his previous short stories.
Stranger in a Strange Land
I want to thank Jen Winters for inviting me to appear on her blog! When we were first talking about what I should write here, I was quite honestly at a loss. I believe this is the first time I’ve ever guested on someone else’s site, and why in the world would anyone be interested in what I have to say about anything?
However, she asked me a question that really got me thinking about a lot of things. It was a simple, yet very complicated question.
“How do you go about constructing a romance or sex scene?” Now, THAT is a loaded question. In order to get into it, I think there needs to be a little background about how I got into writing in the first place.
I hated writing in school. It was boring and tedious, and I never felt comfortable with it. I trended towards math and science. I wasn’t “artsy”. Once I got done with English I never wanted to write again.
However, I did love reading. I enjoyed a well-constructed story with fun dialog and interesting characters. Again, though, I trended more towards science fiction, action, mystery. Romance was not even on my radar screen.
Then I graduated, and other than technical writing, I didn’t write anything for twenty years.
Then, quite surprisingly, through some friends online, I was asked to join a role play writing group. Now, this is not role play like Dungeons and Dragons with dice and battles and the like (although I did have plenty of experience with that from younger days). The way this works is that you take a character (often from a well-known book or TV series that the group is based on), and you have scenarios, and you write as that character. This role play group was for a popular paranormal romance series which I actually had not read, but my friends thought I would be a good fit for it for some strange reason, and they needed guys. So I took a crash course in that literary world, and I tried it.
And I loved it.
No one was more surprised than I was at this turn of events. But what I loved about the books I had read (continuity, dialog, plot, characters), I found I enjoyed even more in CREATING those things. Before long I was “writing” several characters, some from the books and some original creations.
“Ok so how does that have anything to do with constructing a romantic scene?” you might well ask and for good reason. Well, you see, when I started doing this RP writing, I knew that it was an adventure/romance series that it was based on. And I was adamant that I would be doing “those kinds” of scenes, because I didn’t think I could. I was focused on the interaction among characters and the action/adventure parts of the stories.
But any writer will tell you that characters have minds of their own. And eventually, my character was yelling at me that it was time.
It was incredibly nerve-wracking to write that first scene, but I did it. And it was … well, I hate to pat myself on the back, but it was GOOD. Of course, it helped to not be the only one writing. That might be why I prefer to have writing partners today, even when writing for publication (I currently have two).
So to get back to the original question, I think I’ve learned a couple of things about writing these types of scenes.
First, there are the physical aspects of it. How do the participants move? What do they see, what does the room look like, what do they physically feel? Does the order of events make sense? (For example, I accidentally had the same character take their shirt off twice a few paragraphs apart in a first draft.)
Second, and perhaps more importantly, are the emotions behind the act. This to me is critical. How the characters feel towards each other, and describing that, is what turns it from (to put it bluntly) pornography into romance. Relating emotions is incredibly powerful, and if the physical is what provides the backbone and structure of the scene, the emotional component is the finishing touch that can make it truly beautiful.
The first time one of my partners and I submitted a short story, got it published, and then waited for that first review was one of the most anxious times I have ever experienced. This is an excerpt from that review, and what a relief it was …
As for the tupping … I’m always anxious reading love scenes from authors whose style I’m not familiar with. In my opinion, [especially] with romance themed stories, this is an integral part and can make or break the tale. So with teeth clenched I forged ahead, preparing myself for some cringe worthy love scene that will put a sailor’s mouth to shame. So imagine my surprise when it turned out to be romantic and beautiful and I’m glad that my worst expectations didn’t come to pass. Probably Patricia wrote it because it sounds like a woman’s POV, sexy but cerebral. LOL sorry Mr. Speca but my faith in men and romance is limited to fiction right now. – Talk Supe review of “Tears of the Mermaid” by Aaron Speca and Patricia Laffoon
This is still one of my favorite reviews of all time, because it spoke to exactly what I believe, that sex scenes are about much more than the physical act itself. I didn’t even care that the assumption was made that I didn’t have anything to do with writing it (in actuality, it’s kind of a backhanded compliment).
It is a challenge being a male romantic author, but it’s definitely a challenge I am enjoying.
Follow me and my writing partners Patricia Laffoon and Dawn Treadway here:
Excerpt from the yet-to-be-published “Heart of the Mermaid”, the first book in “The Realmwalker Prophecy” series from Aaron Speca and Patricia Laffoon …
Rudy leaned back against the pillow and smiled. “Aye, ma’am. And I’m sorry if I offended you.” He took up the bowl and spoon and began to eat, taking several spoonfuls in rapid succession. He forced himself to slow down. “Were there any other survivors?”
She was so distracted by watching him move that she almost missed the question. The way his muscles flexed in simply lifting a spoon to his mouth. What was it about this male that set her on edge so? He hadn’t done a thing, but she felt like a cat in a room full of rocking chairs, not knowing which way to jump first. This did not sit well with her; she had seen many a male pass through her outpost and never had an inclination towards any of them. The human males she had come across were mostly crude, belligerent, arrogant. Truthfully, so were many of the Mermen. But this man with his soft words and gentle touches compromised her mental and emotional state.
She looked into his eyes, and saw the sadness there accompanying his query. “No. There were none but you that I saw. We weren’t in a position for me to do a lot of looking around.”
He stopped eating and set the bowl aside, looking down. She could see the pain he was in. Not merely physical, as that was obvious from what she had seen when she had first cleaned him up. Emotional, too. She had witnessed firsthand that look in the eyes of the older Mer warriors, the ones who had seen too many battles and lost too many comrades. He was too young to have that look about him, and it touched her deeply. Surely some of those lost men from his vessel were his friends.
He reached for her hand and their fingers interlaced completely naturally. He looked back up to her and their eyes locked. “So what happens now?” The question was so innocent yet laced with so much potential. He reached up with his other hand and slid a lock of hair away from her face.
She looked down at their intertwined fingers. Hers had slid into his as if they were meant to be that way. Her heart felt like it was going to flip right out of her chest and that was when she decided. She might not have him forever, but she had him right now and that was all that counted. She gave up the pretense that this male didn’t matter, that he hadn’t stolen her heart the first time she saw him, and in that moment she knew her life would never be the same. “What happens now? We wait and you heal.” She sat on the bed and then leaned down into his embrace and a soft sigh escaped her lips.