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Tips on how to approach writing romantic scenes in your novel

Hello there! Today I’m going to be looking at the ever daunting task of writing love scenes within your novel and giving you a couple of tips and tricks that I’ve found have helped when tackling these romantic writing moments

I hope these little suggestions will be of some usefulness to all of you out there hoping to write romantic scenes

1. Try not to lose sight of who your characters are

I’m not going to pretend to be an expert in writing romantic scenes, but I would suggest something to try and aim for when approaching a love scene is to think about your characters personalities. For example, if you have a very shy, almost stoic character who’s going to try and kiss their love interest for the first time- they are unlikely to suddenly be bursting with the confidence to do so. I think that staying true to your character is a key idea as very few people suddenly lose all their personality traits or insecurities in the face of romance, in fact it’s usually the opposite I think!

To make my suggestion a little clearer, I would advise that to attempt keeping your characters true to their personalities during romantic scenes, that you gather a pen and paper and simply sit and imagine different scenarios to put your characters in. As a writer you have a brilliant grasp of who your characters are, and a pretty solid knowledge of their characteristics. Or if you don’t, you’re likely making them up as you go along which is equally as fantastic!

Before attempting romantic scenes I would suggest that something you can do is picture your characters in varying intimate settings or facing situations concerning the one they love. For example, perhaps imagine your characters having their first kiss, sharing a pudding or going on a romantic country stroll. I usually find that due to my knowledge of my characters as a writer, that by picturing my characters in romantic situations I can get a basis for how they’d likely react and then I can play around with this in my imagination before committing the romantic scene to paper.

Sometimes I find that by imagining or playing out the entire romantic scene in my mind, perhaps changing my character’s reactions as I go over my idea, helps me to form a solid romantic plot in that I can commit to writing feeling that it’s true to my characters. If you’re more keen to simply write down your idea, delving right into a romantic scene, that’s great too! If this is your approach however I would suggest pausing every now and then to re-read your scene and then keep going, just to make sure your character hasn’t suddenly changed tactics or diverged from romancing in a way that’s typical of their personality

2. It’s genuinely rather hard not to fall prey to romantic stereotypes and clichés

I definitely know that as a writer I’m guilty of this! When writing romance it’s particularly easy I find to fall into writing the age old traditional date settings, typical gifts and large eyed blushing characters. Media and also idealised romantic fiction, has led us all to sometimes not think very far outside the box when it comes to our love scenes. For example, I know that when faced with writing a date scene, unless I stopped myself my first suggestion might be for my characters to go to the cinema, have dinner and then have a kiss on the doorstep of character B’s flat before they say goodnight.

That sounds like nearly every rom-com ever made, doesn’t it? To get around this dilemma I’ve come up with the idea of, like I mentioned before, designing your romantic scenes with your character’s personalities at the centre. For example, your character might not even like watching films, perhaps due to the crowded nature of a cinema or maybe due to their inability to sit still for the two hours a film usually runs for. For this character, it would be highly unrealistic for them to go on a date that involved seeing a movie and then stopping off for dinner afterwards when they’d highly resented the cinema experience in the first place.

Each and every character will have their likes, dislikes, wants and ideologies and apart from a few overlapping shared interests it’s likely that your characters won’t always fit into the stereotypical date ideas. Love is a very personal experience, and I personally don’t think that any two relationships are the same and with this in mind generalising romantic scenes doesn’t necessarily work.

Like with imagining romantic scenes, I would suggest basing the way you approach romantic scenarios with your characters with keeping things in line with their likes, dislikes and interests. By doing this, it makes your romantic scenes not only unique, but personal to your characters and likely much more interesting to a reader than a typical love scene they might read in most romance novels.  I would advise however, not to feel too disheartened if you can’t think of a truly unusual romantic scene. Romance can of course, be generic, and unless your characters are going to be sky diving for their dates, it’s more than likely that they’ll end up doing something rather tame. This is more than alright! Love isn’t always truly individual and there will be times that things aren’t racing along for your characters. I would suggest keeping your character’s individuality in mind however, even if the situations they’re placed in are familiar romantic scenes.

3. Don’t feel pressured into describing every single aspect of a romantic encounter / scene

I would lastly, in this short little segment, like to advice that when tackling writing romantic scenes that it’s alright if you want to pace yourself, or if you would equally like to cut your scene up to speed it along.

There’s no pressure to intensely describe every aspect of a love scene, and I would like to suggest that if you feel that your scene is becoming increasingly hard to write, that you jump to the next section of your romantic plot line. For instance, if you’ve written a detailed dinner scene with some hefty dialogue and would rather not write the characters travelling from the restaurant to their home and the tension of their attraction, than that’s perfectly alright! Breaks in writing are your friend in these situations and not only will it help you to pace your romantic scene but it will likely hold the reader’s interest and get them eager to read the next stage of the love unravelling between your characters

Alternatively, there’s often something beneficial in writing longer more descriptive scenes within romance, to add depth to a scene and tackle any scenic descriptions that you require undertaking. I would aim not to have too many of these, as I find myself that too much descriptive writing draws the reader’s attention away. I would advise that a healthy mix of descriptive complimentary scenic writing, mixed with quick paced dialogue and then scene cuts, is a well paced way of approaching writing a romantic scene.

Of course, this is your writing and the amount of detail or not you want to include is entirely up to you! However, this would be my suggestion for tackling romance scenes that perhaps are intended to be long winded and you would prefer for them to be broken down for your readers.

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I intend to write more tips and tricks for romance scenes in the future but for now I thought I’d do a couple of quick fire advice points to guide you guys alone. I hope you enjoyed!

- Lauren (@padaleckipatronus)