The Difference Between Love Scenes and Sex Scenes

Right now I’m fighting with the first love scene of The Valois Contingency, because it’s not doing what it needs to be doing—and I’ve rewritten it twice (so it’s actually been written three times). Yes, this post is procrastination. It’s also venting a little steam, and not the good kind.

Sex, for anyone who has been married for a while, is pretty simple. A little foreplay, insert tab A into slot B and repeat, fireworks, then peace with a bit of a warm glow. If you’re not one of the people doing it, well, it’s not that interesting; granted, it’s still interesting to a certain extent, or the pornography industry wouldn’t thrive in any economy.

A love scene, however, has to do more than describe two people having sex, and the first love scene has even more responsibility; it has to describe the change in relationship between the two people, focusing on how it increases conflict (we’re talking about a romance novel, so the relationship is central to the conflict one way or another, otherwise it would be some other kind of novel “with romantic elements”).

Unfortunately, the first love scene in VC doesn’t do that. If anything, it decreases conflict between the two main characters. It’s the scene after the first love scene that really ratchets up external conflict—space zombies make their first appearance on stage (Yes, space zombies!), and information from analyzing their remains ratchets up the internal conflict.

Maybe that’s just how these characters roll. Sigh. It’s supposed to be a sign of a well-developed character when he or she refuses to do something just because you (the writer) wants it done, so I must have well-developed characters. I don’t mind admitting they can be a pain in the…neck sometimes.

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