Romance authors sometimes get a bad rap and that isn’t fair. Readers of more ‘sophisticated’ literature or authors of other genres occasionally criticize romance writers for penning fluff, but what they don’t realize is this: it takes talent to write a romance novel. The author must be able to create a believable, likable heroine, a hero the reader can fall in love with, a flawless plot, and a brilliant action scene.
Action scene? Before you roll your eyes and burst into laughter, consider this: Sex is the ultimate action scene. Not just sex, but romance in general. Any romantic scene, whether it’s a gentle kiss or a passionate epic sex scene, must be carefully crafted.
Every action scene requires choreography. A sex scene is no different. Every aspect of the physical encounter must be meticulously plotted out. The author must keep track of whose hands are where. When the hero’s lips trace a fiery path down the heroine’s body, they must follow a logical path. For example, the author doesn’t want to write a scene in which the hero’s hands are running through the heroine’s hair at the same time one hand is trailing sensuously down the inside of her thigh, while another hand is—well, you get the picture. Unless there’s more than one hero, or the there are space alien elements and the hero suddenly sprouts an extra hand, this simply won’t work.
Like an action scene, a sex scene can take place in a variety of settings. Props may vary. There’s a build-up of tension, breathless anticipation, a feeling of excitement. Action scenes can range from a race against time to an epic battle. Sex scenes can be just as varied. They can be sweet or spicy, breathless and intense, or soft as a sigh. Fast and furious, or slow and erotic. Still think all sex scenes are the same? Think again.
Writing a romantic scene is an art. It takes talent to create the perfect scene. A good romance writer can not only describe a kiss in a million different ways, they can make your lips tingle. A good romance writer knows how to make the reader cheer when the hero and heroine share their first kiss. A good romance writer makes you sigh with pleasure when the main characters finally come together.
The key to writing a good action scene is to keep the reader turning the page, desperate to find out what happens next. The same with a romantic scene—the authors must keep the reader poised at the edge of her seat, up two hours past her bedtime, unable to put the book down.
What’s the fundamental difference between an action scene and a sex scene? There isn’t one. A sex scene is an action scene. Every kiss, every touch is carefully written into the story and is essential to the plot. What happens in the bedroom (or backseat of the car, on top of the kitchen table, the middle of an open field… you get the idea) can make or break the relationship between the hero and heroine. So, to all you skeptics out there: do you still think sex scenes are pointless bits of fluff?
If you really think about it, romance writers are probably the more versatile writers out there. They must master the fundamentals of penning a novel—dialogue, grammar, narrative structure, characterization—and they must master the art of creating sexual tension and crafting the ultimate action scene.
So, the next time you hear someone criticize romance novels or the people who write them, don’t make excuses for your choice in reading material. Don’t trivialize the art of crafting a romance novel. Just look the critic in the eye and tell him romance writers are the rock stars of the literary world. Or, better yet, tell him about your favorite romantic action scene.