Writing Romantic Scenes

Writing TipI grew up with older, conservative parents. They were born in the 1920s and lived through the Depression. My father served overseas in the Second World War. They never spoke about sex. In fact, my mother—born in rural Newfoundland—arrived in Canada in 1945 believing babies came from under rocks. She was seventeen. That’s what her parents had told her; it was what all the children in the community were taught.

In my very conservative raising, I wasn’t exposed to a lot of smut—as they would put it. When I was about fourteen, however, I found magazines my mother was reading. They were called True Stories. Anyone who remembers these magazines filled with short stories knows what I mean when I say, there was a little smut amongst those pages. And I read many of them, hiding out in my bedroom or in the work shed.

I shouldn’t have been surprised my mother read these stories and was interested in sex. After all, I was the tenth of eleven children. But she was a proper lady who changed her outfit when she went out in public, never cursed and wore plastic rain hats to keep her hair-do dry. All her clothes were ironed—even her underwear.

There was no smut to watch on television because we had only three channels (one was French), and we were ushered off to bed at nine. After I was sixteen, I got to stay up until ten if it wasn’t a school night. Members of my family were early birds. Dad was sitting at the table having his first cup of tea of the day by 5:30 am.

Fast forward a few decades, and I’m faced with writing my first smut scene for my romance novel. Although I knew it had to be included because it was an adult romance, I hesitated: what would Mom think? Then I thought back to all those smut books I caught her reading in the past thirty years—I think she’s catching up on the first 25 years of her life when she wasn’t exposed to much smut—and think, she’d enjoy it. But would she enjoy it coming from her daughter?

No matter. To prepare for writing the scene, I read a few romance novels and noted the wording. I searched online to see what others did and tried to find one closest to my style: sexy, but not crude. I’m sure the sex scene in my first romance is a little cheesy. That’s okay. It was my growing stage.

The scene in my second book Twistmas – The Season for Love is much better. Here’s how it starts:Twistmas_Diane_Lynn_McGyver AMAZON

Jan heard a thud and directed him away from the wall and down the hallway. The day’s events emptied from her mind as she thought about what he wanted to do, about what she wanted to do. His gentle fingers caressed her back, her buttock and ran along her side. He touched every inch of her skin except her breasts and the soft mound of hair that yearned to accept his hardened manhood. It was as if he first wanted to explore her body, the parts few men gave any attention to, before he explored the features separating man from woman.

She buried her fingers in his hair, envisioning its rich, dark red colour. The knight of her dreams had flowing red hair and a trusty steed. Santa couldn’t deliver him, but he found her just the same, and now his lips left a chilling trail between her breasts, across her quivering belly and down her hip. She wished she could see his face, but in the blackout, she could scarcely distinguish the outline of windows as the snow outside shimmered with a breath of light. He rose slightly and wrapped his lips around her rock-hard nipple. She drew him closer with one hand while the other explored his solid chest, his hip, the manly skin on his thigh.

“Do you know the difference between a snowwoman and a snowman?” he whispered.

“Snow balls?”

He chuckled. “Snowmen are everywhere, but beautiful snowwomen are hard to find.”

“I don’t know,” she said softly. “I’ve been looking for the right snowman for a long time without luck.” She kissed him. “Until now.”

I was reminded of this timid journey into writing sex scenes while reading Millie Schmidt’s post Writing a “Romantic” Scene. She provides her experience with writing a romantic scene and offers a few links to help you get started.

Although I know novels with lots of sex sell—sometimes that’s the only reason the books sell because there is no story to them—I’m not big on the bedroom details. I’m the They closed the door behind them and that’s where they stayed ‘til morning sort of person.

But I do like to tease. Shadows in the StoneShadows in the Stone - Diane Lynn McGyver

Bronwyn caressed her shoulders, then explored her back with his fingertips. One hand slid to her belly and traced the line of buttons on the front of her dress. He quivered when he felt her massaging his thighs, inching closer to his buttocks. He pulled nearer. Through hazy vision, he realised they occupied his office. He kissed her again, cupping her face and stilling the urges to unbutton her dress. Every bone in his body wanted to be alone with her in his quarters.

When their lips parted, she pulled him into her arms, planting tender kisses on his cheek, his ear and neck. He felt their breathing fall into rhythm; it felt as though they drew the same breath. Exhaling at the same moment, their energies mixed, were gathered again and shared.

He heard her mumble something but couldn’t make out what she said. She clung so tight, he thought she might never let go. He listened closer when she spoke again in a low voice.

“I want you. I’ll always want you.”

Although he didn’t want her to pull away, she did. Alaura stared at him with eyes filled with unshed tears. “I’ll think of you always, Bronwyn Darrow. Regardless of where life takes us, you’ll always be dear to me. Promise me you’ll remember this.”

Have you tackled a romantic scene in your novel? Did you worry about what your parents might think? Your brother, kids, friends? Your grandmother?

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20 thoughts on “Writing Romantic Scenes

  1. What a great story! I too wonder what the people in my real life will think when I’m writing a romantic scene. It’s like divulging our personal laundry, even if it isn’t us in the character, people auto assume a writer is writing from their own experience. And I had to LOL at ‘True Magazine’, yup, although I grew up in a home with ZERO books in it, I did manage to see the pile of True magazines on my mother’s nightstand. 🙂


    • I would definitely worried more about what others thought when I was young writer. Now…I don’t worry so much. I’ve written about many characters–murders, virgins, thieves–that doesn’t mean I am one. My imagination is bigger than anything I do in real life.

      For those readers (family and friends included) who think I am that person in the novel, they are wrong. Yet, they are right in small instances because some of my quirks end up in the stories. For example, Bronwyn Darrow loves cranberries. We call them fenberries in “Shadows in the Stone”, and I love cranberries. He also can’t raise only one eyebrow. I can’t either. It’s all or nothing. I’m envious of people who can raise just one eyebrow.

      But my characters are not me, and so I don’t worry about it. I’ve learned to throw caution to the wind and just write. I wonder what readers think of the author of 50 Shades of Grey. Would they think she lived through that abusive ordeal? I suppose some might, but let’s hope she has had healthier relationships than that.

      Those “True Stories” are something. I think they were the true women’s mags, not Good House Keeping.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment, Debby.

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Always a difficult subject. I know a writer of historical fiction who ignores the whole sex/bedroom thing (nor does she favour any doubtful words or swearing). As a result perhaps, I feel her books are cold, lacking emotion. As with most things, there is a happy medium, and for most of us that’s what we aim for.


    • I agree: it’s to find the happy medium. My characters seldom swear. If they do, it’s ‘damn’ or in fantasy ‘the orcs curse’. In the hundreds of thousands of words I’ve written, I believe there’s only four F-bombs. Not because I don’t use it, but because I treat it like a million dollar word. It gets used once and releases its full impact in the story. To use it on every page reduces it to the one penny-value of ‘very’.


  3. Reblogged this on firefly465 and commented:
    Yes this applies to us all. My first romantic love scene was all about the graphics we`d learned at school sex education and what I knew from growing up on a farm. lol thankfully I think they have improved.


    • Thank you for the reblog. Oh my, sex on the farm. We get a lot of that here. We have goats, and my now 13-year-old son has seen it all: the mating and the delivery (baby that is). And don’t get me started on ducks. I think they’re all rapists.

      Thanks for visiting and leaving a comment.


  4. I remember well the True Stories my mom kept hidden but I stole and read late at night under the covers with a flash light! You do the sex scenes very well Diane.


    • I agree. There is a fine line and everyone wants something different. I’m not hard core with graphic details. I suppose I’d be considered light romance. Thanks. I worked hard on making that ‘smut’ good reading.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Well done, subtle. I too recall true stories, laying around the house, casually scooping them up for a read. They belonged to my older sisters.
    I’m new to reading your blog Diane and this morning I realized you, Diane Tilbert, are also Diane Lynn Mcyver. Is Mcyver a pen name? Why and how did you choose it?


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