Monday, November 07, 2005

Love scene flambé

As I write this new Blaze, I realized that there’s a little subject I can address here: Love Scene Flambé or “how I got the guts to write my first saucy love scene.”

Now, before I give you my recipe for that, let me first distinguish something. There are many different types of love scenes. Specifically, the ones I write for Special Edition frequently do have a bit of spice to them, but the line doesn’t welcome graphic descriptions, so certain words and intense descriptions aren’t included. The books are very much based on the search for family and community, and the focus isn’t on carnality or the games hip, urbane, and at times cynical singles play with each other in the world of dating. Special Edition romances usually grow in more traditional steps, though I’ve read (and even wrote) variations on this theme. Then there are the Blaze books; their hallmark is the exploration of a more explicit relationship. Oftentimes, there’s sex in the first few chapters because, basically, Blazes start with a sexual connection and then grow into love (whereas, with Special Edition, it’s often the opposite: a strong emotional connection that usually develops sexually).

For me, Blaze love scenes can be a real challenge to write because they’re so intense. It’s tough to make the reader care about the hero and heroine having sex when they don’t hardly even relate to each other on a mental and heartfelt level…yet. Also, speaking in generalities, and I’ll be blunt about this, to write a love scene, you should be just as into it as you’d expect the reader to be. If you’re not feeling it as you create it, it’ll need some work. Stressful.

Based on all that, writing a tryst—especially a hot one—can be daunting. When I created my first Blaze, PLAYMATES (February, 2004), I’d, up until that point, only written the Special Edition version of sex—sweet and full of emotion. However, my PLAYMATES characters weren’t going to arrive there until further on in the story, way after they’d had some naughty/nice athletics in the bedroom (even though an actual bed wasn’t involved until way later). In fact, the characters were so experienced and wary of relationships that they were going to start out with the pyrotechnics and work their way up to a simple, life-changing kiss. (Come to think of it, that happened in my second Blaze, too [BORN TO BE BAD, April, 2005], but in the latter, it was really emphasized. One of the book’s themes actually concentrated on the power of a kiss; the subplot supported this.) Needless to say, when it came time for the first PLAYMATES love scene (in chapter three, whoo!), I was daunted indeed. I didn’t even know if I could type any “c words” (not the %*&t one—you can’t go there with Blaze, and I wouldn’t want to anyway) without freaking out about my family and friends reading the copy. I needed to get over this, and quick.

I did. And this was my recipe for doing it:

1/2 glass of Amaretto over ice

1 viewing of WILD ORCHID, the best bad movie ever made; separate into parts:

o a few minutes of the Lambada where almost everyone is wearing a mask

o a pinch of the scene where that American businessman propositions the heroine because he thinks she’s a prostitute and Mickey Rourke pretty much dares her to go for it AND SHE DOES!

o a dose of the ending with all that sweaty stuff

Mix together Amaretto and WILD ORCHID, stirring until you’re brave enough to hit the keyboard and you don’t care what the heck you’re typing as long as it’s working. (You can edit what's not working out later—it’s getting the scene down in the first place that’s the hardest.)

Serves all the readers who are kind enough to read your books

If WILD ORCHID isn’t appealing, try your own thing: 9 ½ WEEKS, RED SHOE DIARIES, THE BIG EASY, or maybe you can read your favorite love scene from a book (even though that’s tough because the prose might affect your own). And the Amaretto is optional, even though it’s really good.

Back to writing.

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