Flipping the Love Scene Switch
I love this topic because I’m getting all these new smexy books to read! Which leads to a confession. This may be pathetic, but I don’t have a favorite sex scene. I – uhm – kinda like ’em all. Except for when I don’t.
I won’t name the story that sticks in my head when I wish to heaven it wouldn’t, because I figure what squicks me out is going to be perfectly fine for someone else. And the story clearly worked for the author. So no naming names.
The upshot of the scene is that the hero gives the heroine over to other people so they can arouse her. While other people watch. But no getting her off, mind! He reserves that right for himself. Ew. Dude. If you’re not going to do the work, you don’t deserve the rewards much less the chick. Don’t care how willing she is.
While I don’t have a single favorite love scene, I can talk about what makes all the other sex scenes work for me.
1. Satisfy tension – I’m a sucker for a story that builds sexual and emotional tension winding it tighter and tighter until the characters have to get it on or shank one another. (Some authors do this with humor, others with danger and adrenaline, others with wine and deliberate seduction. It can all be sexy. Just generally not in the same scene.)
2. Discovery – the scenes that work really well have an element of exploration in them and only rarely is that physical. Sex scenes that knot my undies are an emotional/mental risk far more than they are a simple physical action.
3. Immersive – by which I mean total and complete focus of the sex partners (however many may be involved) is on one another and the sensory/emotional details. Lurv scenes that drive one or more participants to the edge of what they think they can take. This need not be BDSM – though that the obvious place to find this trope.
4. Raises stakes – I don’t mean this in a ‘hey, we totally dig one another now so it would suck if we died’. I mean ‘Dear heaven, what have I done and how will I ever get out of it’. When my characters finally get to hop in bed (or wherever) together, their chances of dying a messy death go up exponentially. Kidding. I don’t really care whether someone’s in mortal danger, though from my books you wouldn’t know that. I DO care whether the hero and/or heroine feels like they’ve just stuck their hearts in a blender.
I’m sure there are a ton of other aspects that make love scenes work for me. I know that I prefer the lead up to the sex rather than the sex scene itself. The dance of psychology and approach/avoidance fascinates me. But it can only go on so long.
What absolutely has to be in a love scene for you in order for the scene to flip your switch?