Whether you're writing a romance novel or a murder mystery, any piece of fiction can include a romance scene. Romance scenes can deepen the relationship between characters and make the reader invest emotionally in the story. Though they're fun to read, they can be a lot of work to write. If you plan it out well, though, your readers won't be able to get enough!
STEP ONE: Decide what you're comfortable reading and writing.
It's becoming very vogue to write romance novels so hot, they'll melt in your hands. Does that mean you should join the crowd? Not necessary. It's a rare thing that an author will write a book with a level of sensuality they're not comfortable with because they'll automatically choose characters that fit their own comfort level. But don't dismiss the possibility simply because you're unfamiliar with the genre or assume that you don't have what it takes to kick it up a notch. You might want to introduce yourself slowly to these steamier stories, if you have a story in mind that requires something a little more racy than you're used to. Read a little of everything to figure out what suits your writing style best.
STEP TWO: Let your characters decide the level of intimacy, not publisher guidelines.
I used to base everything I wrote on what the publishers might buy. I suppose it makes some sense to do that when you're not published. Target your publisher, then tailor what you write to that set of guidelines. Sounds logical, right? I'm not so sure. A part of me really believes that the reason I didn't sell all those years was because I was trying to write for everyone else except myself and what fit my characters. If you're writing for someone else, you're not writing what's in your heart... and it's going to show.
STEP THREE: Respect your readers. Give them what you promise.
I read a Silhouette Intimate Moments a couple years, when they first introduced their "mainstream" theme, that was a wonderfully written story. Ultimately, however, I finished the book so disappointed I had to write to the editors about it. This was a story that had all the ingredients of a fantastic read. So why was I disappointed? I was expecting a romance, a romance that would blossom and the characters come to life as they fell in love. What I got was a romance that was a shadow to the external mystery and characters that came to life mostly in the external aspects. I felt very little for the characters in terms of their love bond. When they married at the end, I was only mildly glad.
STEP FOUR: Make love scenes real instead of hokey or overly sentimental.
Writing love scenes effectively is very hard to do, yet they're no harder to do write than an action scene. A friend of mine told me recently that the editor-in-chief of a major trade house skips the love scenes when she reads because so many are utterly boring. Isn't that sad? So how do you make your love scenes real? People and relationships are tricky things. The word "normal" in the real world is an impossibility because if you broke down each person into the components they're made up of, you'd find someone who is illogical, contradictory, good and evil.
How do you input romance scenes into your stories? Let me know in the comments below!