February’s Third Thursday Wrap-Up

Willa Blair, Shauna Perigo, Tracy Wolff, and Mari Mancusi

Tales of the Heart: Writing Effective Love Scenes and Love Stories

Love was in the air at February’s Third Thursday as authors Willa Blair, Shauna Perigo, Tracy Wolff, and Mari Mancusi  took us behind the scenes of love scenes.

How do you write a love scene?  In some ways it’s like writing any other scene; key elements must be done well. Our panelists specifically mentioned character and tension. General considerations, such as the genre and the reader, must also be taken into account. On the other hand, the intimate nature of a love scene requires careful handling. Creating emotional connections, emotional payouts and sensory images are a few keys to writing quality love scenes.  You also have to consider what you’re comfortable writing.


Memorable characters, whether we like them or hate them, stay with us because the characterization is done well. Before worrying about how your characters will consummate their relationship, work on making each person interesting on his or her own. (Need help? There’s a WLT workshop for that.  On March 9th Brian Yansky is teaching  “Building Character and Building Plot Through Character.” )


Tension is in every novel. By definition tension is “a strained relationship between individuals, groups, nations, etc.” It’s part of the larger conflict within the story.  Romance writing also includes sexual tension between characters. They get together, then are torn apart. They want to be together, then they don’t want to be together. Maintaining this tension is essential to your story.


What kind of romance you’re writing affects how you handle a love scene. Contemporary, historical, paranormal, sci-fi, inspirational, fantasy, and erotic are just a few of the different types of romance novel.  There are many subsets of the romance genre with over fifty shades of sensuality, including hot, sweet, sexy, nasty and dirty. Which shade you choose depends on the genre.


Who will read your book? This is closely related to the genre. If your reader is expecting a sweet love story, they may not appreciate a raunchy romp in the book.

Emotional Connections

This relates back to creating characters. Your well-crafted characters must have an emotional connection with each other before they connect sexually. Sex for the sake of sex is more like pornography.

Emotional Payouts

Romance readers expect an emotional payout, a guarantee that no matter what happens these characters will eventually end up together. The characters can experience tension and satisfaction repeatedly through the story.

Sensory Images

When writing a love scene, focus on sensory images, things that evoke an emotional response from the reader, more than just describing actions. It’s not about saying, “Put A into B.” It’s about maintaining the tension and the connection.  The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book may give you some ideas. However, avoid the trap of purples prose.

Your Comfort

Finally, what are you comfortable writing? What are you comfortable reading? These factors can help you figure out how to handle your characters intimate moments.

Thanks to our panel of romance authors who bravely demystified the mystery of love scenes. Please chime in with your take away from the evening in the comments near the bottom of the page.

Lexie Smith is a WLT member who enjoys connecting people with information through her blogs BloggingForWriters.com, LexicalLight.com, and 64mascots.com. A University of Texas graduate, she taught middle school English and, until a few years ago,  homeschooled her children. She lives in Round Rock with her husband, five kids and two rescued Boxers.


February Third Thirsday Wrap-Up: Part 2 of 3

By Lexie Smith

At February’s Third Thursday programW.K. “Kip” Stratton, Greg Garrett, Jacqueline Kelly and Keith Graves gave us lots of food for thought as they answered questions from moderator Cyndi Hughes (fearless WLT leader) about their creative processes. Last week Scribe brought you the highlights of the discussion; this week we’ll dive in deep to recap two of the four questions that the panel answered. Enjoy!

How did you get the idea for your most recent book?

Greg’s latest book started as a screenplay that he had to set aside because it wasn’t working. He returned to it when his heart was broken, applying his theory that “nothing bad happens in life because it can all be used as material.”

Kip’s idea for his Floyd Patterson book came to him so long ago he doesn’t remember what spurred it, other than an interest in Floyd’s story. His book, Backyard Brawl, came about because a fellow writer wasn’t able to do the project, so it was offered to Kip.

The idea for Jacqueline’s book, The Evolution of Calpurnia Tate, came to her as she sweltered in her 100-year-old house on a summer afternoon. As she wondered how people managed in the heat back then, a little voice in her head answered, dictating two pages to her. Those pages were the beginning of the short story that would become a novel, thanks to the encouragement of her writing group.

As an artist, Keith has loads of drawings and sketches of characters in his notebooks. Picture books were a natural fit for him. Branching out to chapter books gives him the opportunity to use his ideas that won’t fit in picture books. His recent chapter book is based on a favorite character of his that his publishers wanted to use in a longer book.

What is the process of writing a first draft like for you?

Jacqueline goes against the advice of many writing books, including Anne Lamott’s Bird by Bird: write a bad first draft. She edits herself as she writes. Therefore, she writes quite slowly and requires little revision. For Calpurnia, she did a draft and one polish. She completed her next book with a draft and two polishes.

Kip’s method for doing a first draft depends on the project. Backyard Brawl had a quick turnaround time (90,000 words in six weeks) so he had to write quickly. He got up at 4:30 a.m. each day, wrote 1,000 words, went to work, worked out and then wrote another 1,000 words. He wrote carefully, so the end copy was pretty clean, requiring little revision. With his Floyd Patterson [click the red “Read More” button to continue] Continue reading

Third Thursday Wrap-Up!

By Lexie Smith

Process, process and more process. That was definitely the word of the night for February’s Third Thursday Program, “The First Draft: Let the Words Rip!”

Authors W.K. “Kip” Stratton, Greg Garrett, Jacqueline Kelly and Keith Graves gave us a behind-the-books look at the creation of their first drafts and how they write. Greg even shared his personal magic formula for writing a first draft.

Here are some practical tips the panelists shared:

●        Don’t write a shoddy first draft, despite what you read in some books.

●        Listen to the voice(s) in your head. (Use caution when letting others know about those voices!)

●        Build up a portfolio of work before you expect an advance on your utterly compelling project.

●        Keep a journal of ideas about characters, plots, etc. Paragraphs of explanation aren’t needed. One-liners will do.

●        Develop your plot around a favorite character.

●        Working on your writing doesn’t require a keyboard, pad or pen. It happens [click the red “Read More” button below to continue] Continue reading