Tag Archives: love scenes

Fight Scenes and Love Scenes – Seven Tips to Writing Action by Virginia Kantra

NY Times and USA Today bestselling author Virginia Kantra credits her love for strong heroes and courageous heroines to a childhood spent devouring fairy tales.

The author of more than twenty books, Virginia is an eight-time finalist in Romance Writers of America’s RITA awards and the winner of numerous industry honors, including two National Readers’ Choice Awards. After writing her popular “MacNeill Brothers” and “Trouble in Eden” category series, Virginia turned her hand to single title romance. Her new series, Children of the Sea, continues with Forgotten Sea in bookstores now! Married to her college sweetheart and the mother of three kids, Virginia is a firm believer in the strength of family, the importance of storytelling, and the power of love.

Her favorite thing to make for dinner? Reservations.

Fight scenes and love scenes involve two (or more) characters in the grip of strong, basic emotion grappling at close quarters.  These are action scenes, larger than life moments that evoke our readers’ emotions and propel our stories forward.

Understanding the similarities between fight scenes and love scenes can help us identify strategies to make both kinds of action stronger.

1. Action springs from character.

What our characters do reveals who they are.

How your characters act and react in action scenes will depend on their

Level of skill

Experience

Emotions

Because our fictional characters are often larger than life, we can choose to make them exceptionally well-endowed or talented.  We can write kickass heroines or sexually skilled heroes.  But to avoid writing generic fight and love scenes, keep in mind what your characters know, how they learned it, and what they bring to this particular encounter, at this moment, in this mood.

The more aware you are of your characters, the more they can surprise you and the reader.  Think of Indiana Jones pulling his gun to shoot his sword-wielding opponent in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  His action is credible and in character, yet it’s also a wonderful surprise.

2. Players in an action scene should be well matched.

Tension springs from conflict.  In fight scenes, your antagonist should be strong enough to defeat the hero, to put the outcome of the fight in question.

Your lovers should be equally matched.  While the hero and the heroine in a love scene don’t threaten each other physically (well, except for that wonderful scene in the movie Mr. and Mrs. Smith where Brad Pitt and Angelina Jolie are rolling around shooting at each other), you can increase the tension by making them vulnerable to each other in other ways.  Again, put the outcome of the scene in question.  Will the skilled rake seduce the well-brought-up virgin?  Or will she turn the tables by taking control?

3. Every character in an action scene should have a goal.

Unless your characters are drunk or otherwise judgment impaired, they should have an objective, a desired outcome, going into the scene. Whether that goal is to avoid a confrontation or to start one, to establish intimacy or distance, your characters shouldn’t jump into a fight or into bed without some kind of purpose.  What do they want?  What are they prepared to do to get it?

Remember what I said above about tension springing from conflict.  Your character must have a stake in the outcome of the scene.  Which brings me to my next point.

4. Action scenes should impact the plot.

Fight scenes and love scenes should impact both the characters’ emotional arc and the development of the story.  Scenes should not be stuck into the story because sex titillates or violence sells, but because the action of the scene changes things for the participants.  Maybe the fight clears the air.  Maybe sex changes the balance of power.  Maybe somebody gets hurt.

As with any other scene, fight and sex scenes should advance the plot and either complicate or help resolve the conflict.  The action should be significant and relevant to the rest of the story.

5. What’s going on?  Choreographed action and emotional progression.

How much detail you include in your fight and love scenes will depend in part on your story, your style, and your subgenre.  Lengthy descriptions of scenery will slow your pacing, but a brief depiction of setting will establish both the mood and the “field of battle.”

You don’t need to choreograph every movement. But the action should

Be possible

Be plausible

Flow

Fighting and making love are ultimate physical expressions of intense emotion. Your characters and your readers should be plunged into the scene, not outside watching it.  Use visceral detail: pounding hearts and sweaty palms. Sensory description can add to the immediacy of the action, but focus on how each touch, each scent, each sensory trigger makes your characters feel.  Dialogue can increase either the intimacy or the conflict, but it should be brief and to the point.

6. Actions have consequences. 

Even if the fight is won, even if the sex is great, action scenes often end in unforeseen disaster.  Now the bad guy knows where they are.  Now the hero is injured.  Now the heroine is emotionally vulnerable or pregnant.

Ask yourself, how are things better or worse as a result of this action?

7. Both fight and love scenes should escalate throughout the book to the climax.

Your characters should grow through the course of the story.

The villain should get stronger.

The stakes should get higher.

The tension should mount.

And all that pulse-pounding emotion, all that evocative detail, the pain and the ecstasy, should be that much more.

To illustrate what I’m talking about, here are two brief excerpts from Forgotten Sea, the intro to a fight scene and the intro to a love scene.  These aren’t full scenes.  But as you read, see how the different elements discussed above come into play, the way the characters’ objectives and emotions, the setting, stakes, and visceral details help bring the action to life.

THE FIGHT, p.185

Black birds ringed the parking lot like spectators at a boxing match. Or vultures.

Justin’s heart jack-hammered. The three men from the diner had Lara trapped between a big rig and the Jeep.

At least this time none of her attackers was possessed by a demon.

That he knew of.

A chill chased over his skin. Briefly, he met Lara’s gaze, blazing in her pale face. “Get inside.”

She opened her mouth to argue before she figured out his order was for the benefit of their audience. Pressing her lips together, she took two jerky steps toward him.

Tattoos took the toothpick from his mouth and pitched it to the ground. “I say she stays.”

“Let her go,” Justin said evenly.

The stocky man with the weary eyes met his gaze. “Or what? You’ll call the cops?”

Duck into the diner, leaving her alone? Risk having the cops run a make on their stolen Jeep?

“We don’t want trouble,” Justin said again.

Tattoos laughed.

The man in the red bandanna crossed his arms over his chest. “Then call off your spies.”

 Spies?

 “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” Justin said.

“Call ’em off, or your girlfriend’s going back to Heaven ahead of schedule.”

But Lara was easing between the Jeep and the truck, retreating toward the diner, securing herself space and a wall at her back. Smart girl.

Justin started circling with Bandanna Man and the stocky guy, hoping to buy time to let her get away, get inside, trying to keep an eye on Lara and another on his new dance partners, watching their hands, watching their eyes. Hoping nobody had a knife or, Jesus, a gun.

Tattoos realized Lara was slipping away and made a grab for her. The flock of birds burst from the ground, a feathered explosion of black wings and raucous cries.

Lara dropped out of sight behind the Jeep.

Shit.

#

THE LOVE SCENE, p.204

Iestyn’s blood drummed in his ears like a roaring wind, like the crashing sea. Lara should have left him when she had the chance. Instead, she was putting herself in his hands. Literally.

What the hell was she thinking?

“Take me,she’d said.

Heat surged in his veins. A cold sweat trickled down his spine.

For seven years, he’d drifted, a nobody answerable to no one, responsible for no one but himself. Because of Lara, he knew who he was. What he had been. Her choices had gotten them this far.

But they had left her world behind. With every mile, they traveled closer to his.

Where they went from here was up to him. She was his responsibility now. Her safety, her satisfaction, depended on him.

He looked into her misty gray eyes and his vision contracted suddenly as if he were sighting the stars through a sextant, plotting his course by her light. All he could see was Lara.

He was no angel. Maybe he would never be what she needed. But in one area, at least, he could give her what she wanted.

Sex was part of his world. He could take responsibility for sex without any problem at all.

#

What are some of your favorite action scenes from movies or from books?  How much detail do you want in fight scenes?  What about love scenes?

Virginia will be giving away a copy of FORGOTTEN SEA to one lucky commenter!

http://virginiakantra.com

http://www.facebook.com/VirginiaKantraBooks

IMMORTAL SEA, 2011 RITA Award finalist for Best Paranormal Romance

“Shifting Sea” in BURNING UP, 2011 RITA Award finalist for Best Novella

FORGOTTEN SEA, Berkley, June 2011
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Let’s Talk Favorite Love Scenes

If you’re writing romance and you haven’t read Monday’s post by Caridad Pineiro about writing sexy love scenes you may want to check it out. She offers some really terrific tips.

Today I want to talk about favorite love scenes. The romance genre encompasses a wide range of sub-genres. At one end of the spectrum are inspirational romances, where the sexual contact is kept at a minimum and is usually behind closed doors. At the other end is erotic romance which leaves little to the imagination. Personally, I enjoy a fairly wide range of love scenes, but most definitely door open scenes. I not really a huge fan of fade to black unless it’s warranted.  As long as the placement of the love scene and the progression of the relationship make sense, bring it on.

One of my favorite love scenes is between Eve and Roarke in Naked in Death by J.D. Robb. When these two make love for the first time they get so much more then they expected. Both of them experience something that they’ve never found with anyone else, and that they weren’t even sure they were capable of feeling. It’s sexy, touching, and truly memorable.

Another scene I like is Robin and Jules in Force of Nature by Suzanne Brockmann. I think it’s a fave partly because Suz made us wait so long for these two men to get together. She really built the tension in the previous books. Every time they were in a scene together I would shout at the book “Just kiss him already!” Getting back to my point, this is subtle and suggestive love scene. The love making is not explicit at all, but still sexy as hell.  However, the best part of the scene is the afterglow in Robin’s POV. He’s just so awed that this man that he’s been in love with for years is finally here in his arms. I just loved it.

So I’m wondering, as a reader, how do you prefer your love scenes and do you have a favorite?

Writing Sexy Love Scenes

Today’s Guest Blogger is New York times best selling author, Caridad Pineiro.  Caridad will be giving away a ARC (Advanced Reading Copy) of THE LOST to one lucky commenter.  Welcome, Caridad! 

You’ve all heard those warnings in the assorted ED commercials:

In case of an erection lasting more than four hours, contact your physician.  

Well here’s a word of advice for those wanting to write sexy love scenes:

In case of an erection lasting more than ten pages, contact your editor.

Okay, so I’m teasing you a bit.  There is no magic rule about how long or short a love scene should be.  Nor is there any rule about how many love scenes you should have in your work.  But there are some very important things that you should keep in mind in order to write a good love scene.

The first thing to consider is your hero and heroine.  There is nothing that will take you out of the story more quickly than being in the middle of a love scene and thinking, “There is no way he/she would do that!”

If your heroine is kick-ass, it’s unlikely she’s going to become shy and retiring while making love, unless of course there is a very good reason for it. For example, past abuse or rape or even being a virgin.  But knowing this about the heroine is something  that should come out well before that first pivotal scene of intimacy, otherwise it may pull the reader out of the story.  In addition, knowing that the heroine has a traumatic past makes the first step toward involvement all the more important, so it will require a delicate balance to write a believable scene.  Set it up first and be cautious in how much goes on during that first encounter.

If your heroine is just your regular kind of girl, it’s still important to keep some things in mind when writing the love scene, namely, the five senses.  Put yourself in the shoes of the hero and heroine and ask yourself:

How does the other person’s skin feel?

What smells are in the air?  Does your lover have a smell?

Is your lover silent or do they like talking or showing their satisfaction with a soft/loud cry?

Salty skin?  Sweetness elsewhere?

What does your lover look like?  Are they much bigger than you are?

You want the reader to experience each and every sensual experience.  Involve them in what’s happening, but don’t make it clinical.  It’s about more than Tab A goes into Part B.

Speaking of Tab A/Part B, can you use words like f**k, c**k or p***sy?  That really depends where you intend to sell the work.  For erotica such words are acceptable, but they may not be for a romance line.  Ditto on bondage, domination, etc.  Such edgy activities may be all right for more erotic stories, but not for a traditional romance.

As I mentioned before, there is no right length to the love scene.  Your characters and the story will let you know when the length is right.  So will the genre in which you are writing.  In a sweet or inspirational romance, you will probably close the door and not show the love scene at all.

How many love scenes?  Again, that depends on the nature of the story you are writing.  In erotica the love scene(s) may constitute most of the work.  Not so in a romance where the story arc should be more about the development of the relationship.  It is only after the sexual tension has grown between the hero and heroine that it would be appropriate to offer up a love scene.  Your first scenes may be just teases as the hero and heroine feel each other out, but then develop into a longer scene when the hero and heroine become emotionally closer.

Last but not least, even though we want the scene to be romantic and for everyone to be fulfilled, keep in mind the physical realities of making love.  While we’d love a hero who can go on and on and on like the Energizer bunny, besides being dangerous, that four-hour erection is unrealistic.  If a reader thinks the scene is unrealistic, you will pull them out of the story again and that’s not a good thing.

Creating a realistic relationship and intimacy between the hero and heroine is a sure-fire way to keep the reader involved in your story!

Thank you, Caridad.  Remember, one lucky commenter will receive an ARC of Caridad’s novel, THE LOST, available July 26th.  This book is the first in a  paranormal series about a race of energy gatherers with all kinds of unusual properties, like shape-shifting and being able to heal or kill just with a touch.  I can’t wait to read it.  🙂

~K.M. Fawcett