The romance genre is hot, and as one of the best-selling genres, it lures many would-be authors to try their hand at writing sizzling romance. But any author who’s attempted this genre will tell you, love scenes are hard to write!
Anna Campbell has written many steamy romance novels, and with titles like Seven Nights in a Rogue’s Bed, it’s no wonder she’s been voted Australia’s favourite romance writer (by Australian Romance Readers Association Awards). When Campbell is not tapping out a saucy sex scene for her next sizzling romance, she’s often sharing her knowledge of writing the lusty tale at writing workshops.
Recently, I was one of the lucky students eager to lap up her advice and tips on adding zing to character’s relationships. I write mostly for kids, so my characters are of the first-crush, holding hands, and peck on the cheek age, but if you need something a bit saucier for your novel, you’ll love Campbell’s tips.
- Sexual tension is crucial for a romance novel. Even if it’s a ‘sweet romance’ with no naughty scenes, there should still be sexual tension mounting between the heroine and the hero.
- Sex scenes should be written to move the plot forward, increase tension, conflict, and up the stakes. Never just plonk a sex scene in because you think one is due.
- Readers love the ‘will they or won’t they?’ tension in a story, but you can’t have that as the only stakes. Otherwise, once your characters do entertain their own sizzling romance, the reader will feel no need to finish the novel.
- A sex scene is not just lusty action, it reveals a lot about the characters. Your characters should be emotionally naked, not just physically naked. This will help you get to the core internal conflict each one faces.
- Just as you modulate pace in a novel, change the pace of sex scenes. You can have some tender and romantic, maybe slow and sensuous and then throw in a fast and passionate. Mix it up!
- Don’t push your characters into bed before they are ready. Let them set their own agenda, otherwise it will seem staged.
- Look deeply at your characters. What draws them together and what pulls them apart? Your characters will reach a stage where they want each other, but there must be some force preventing them from love. Eventually though, the thing that draws them together must be stronger, so they can get their love scene.
- Get to know your character’s strengths, vulnerabilities, background, baggage and desires. Be specific about who they are, you don’t want two generic characters having sex, much better to have the arrogant but vulnerable horse breeder ravishing his recently widowed yet passionate next door neighbour.
- Watch your point of view. Switching too often can make the reader feel like their watching a tennis match. Keep in one head for a good slab of time, and always make it clear when you switch to the other character’s point of view.
- Use the language you are comfortable with, and you feel fits the character. Always be true to the character when choosing the level of language and not the publishing gate-keepers.
You can learn more about Anna Campbell and her writing at:
Even non-romance writers will get a lot from Anna Campbell’s tips. It was a great workshop, and I even came away with a new read: