Posted by: nancycurteman | February 13, 2012

How to Write Love Scenes that Generate Emotions Not Giggles

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A bit of romance can spice up a mystery story. A couple of well-written love scenes will certainly appeal to most of your readers. As a mystery writer, you must remember to emphasize your mystery puzzle and keep the love strands as subplots. That said, here are some points to remember about writing love scenes.

Love scenes should emphasize feelings. Describe what characters are doing but perhaps even more important, what they are feeling. Reveal feelings through dialogue and actions.

Dialogue helps suggest action without physically describing it. It’s better to understate the sexual action than to graphically depict it. Whispered endearments can give a love scene more emotional impact than an anatomical tour. Show passion through voice tone, breathing, and interior thoughts.

Use sensory words to show physical need. Your reader needs to know what your characters are seeing, feeling, hearing, smelling and tasting.

Clichés can turn love scenes into laughable satires. Words like: swell, throb, pulse, ache, writhe, flush, and pant will draw giggles from your readers not emotion.

Avoid flowery purple prose that is silly or overly poetic. These over dramatic terms are another way to tickle your reader’s funny bone rather than stimulate her emotional response.

Write love scenes in one point of view rather than switching back and forth between the two lovers in a confusing mixture of thoughts and actions. Stick with one person’s perspective. You can share the other character’s perspective in  later scenes where he thinks about his fabulous experience.

Finally and perhaps most important, each love scene must relate to, connect with and advance the plot. The plot being the solution to the mystery.

Other writing tips:

The Romantic  Heroine in a Mystery Novel

photo: featurepics


  1. Well said!


  2. Just the instructions I needed this Valentine’s Day.


    • Evelyn, Can’t wait to read your next love scene.


  3. Clichés can turn love scenes into laughable satires. Words like: swell, throb, pulse, ache, writhe, flush, and pant will draw giggles from your readers not emotion.

    Yes! Those words are giggle inducing. 😆


    • Moderation in love scenes please. Unless you’re going for hilarity and not emotion.


  4. I find it much more fun keeping two lovers apart. Them getting together – however they end up doing it – is rather anticlimactic, I think. To coin a phrase.


    • Joe,
      I agree. It’s similar to real life. The chase and buildup are the most fun. After the grand finale one might ask: Is that all there is?


  5. I put a half page of this kind of laughable material in my western. I didn’t hear any snickers, but I sure heard from my Aunt Tillie in Chicago. Cousin Jim had to peel her off the ceiling. It takes courage (or is it stupidity?) to be a writer.


  6. I get Aunt Tillie’s reaction. How did Cousin Jim like it? You’re right about writers needing courage. I sometimes worry about the reactions of my relatives to some scenes I write.


  7. […] The Romantic Heroine in a Mystery Novel How to Write Love Scenes that Generate Emotions Not Giggles […]


  8. My reaction to overdone, too graphic, and especially unusual positions in so-called love scenes is embarrassment. I am a well-trained prude; I didn’t know until I grew up that chickens had thighs and breasts. (Mine had second joints and white meat.) I usually skip the graphic parts of a story or novel as soon as I catch on where it’s headed. Not what writers want but I’m not the audience they’re writing for, anyway.

    But a suggestive, but not blatantly descriptive, sexual situation can be very stimulating, since it lets your imagination loose to visualize what it will. I think a lot of writers don’t know that.

    Love your stuff, Nancy . . .


    • Marcia, I think you summed up my view with the word “suggestive.” A “suggestion” of passionate lovemaking allows readers to fill in whatever makes the scene the most appealing to them. Thanks for adding that important point.


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