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One Dozen Rules for Writing Effective Love Scenes

couple kissing• Love scenes should have a slow buildup of sexual tension. Anticipation, a slow seduction of the reader, is what to strive for.

• The key ingredient to a good love scene is emotion. The scene must involve the reader emotionally. The reader should care what happens to these people.

• Love scenes should not be interchangeable. Each pair of lovers is unique. You should not be able to “cut and paste” one love scene from book to book.

• A love scene should contain conflict (just like any other scene). The conflict can be subtle, but it must be a conflict of emotion.

• Dialogue enhances a love scene. It can help you show an emotion or action without you having to spell it out.

• Humor can be very effective. It can help dispel nervousness or awkwardness between the characters. It can also provide some comic relief when heavy drama and angst have built to a fever pitch.

• There is no right way to write a love scene. The love scene should remain true to your story and your characters.

• A love scene is not a collection of gyrating body parts. We don’t need a play-by-play of every physical action. The imagination is your most powerful tool. Some of the best loves scenes I’ve ever read were written by Nora Roberts, and there was no graphic description at all!

• Don’t be afraid to try something different. Follow your writer’s instinct.

• Avoid clichéd phrases and euphemisms. Try to make each phrase and each image your own.

• Every pair of lovers should have their own chemistry, just as each book has its own tone and atmosphere.

• Don’t force the love scene. Let it evolve naturally in your story. Just because it’s Page 160 and you haven’t had a love scene doesn’t mean you have to plunk one in. In one of my bestselling books, the love scene was the last scene in the book, because that’s where it belonged.

Copyright 2014, Patricia A. Kay


  • Donna Gough

    Posted November 21, 2014 at 4:11 pm

    Hi Pat — Great post and perfect timing, as I am trying to work out a couple of love scenes in my mystery/detective book. Just curious, are there a couple of Nora Roberts’ books that you’d recommend? (I have never read anything by her!) Regards, Donna

    • Patricia Kay

      Posted November 22, 2014 at 3:53 pm

      Hi, Donna! Wish I could be of help, but I can’t keep up with all the authors out there. I used to read Roberts years ago but haven’t in a long time. Why don’t you just visit her website? I’m sure any of her current suspense titles would be great. Millions of fans can’t be wrong! And Happy Thanksgiving to you and yours.


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