The month of February has many of us thinking about love and romance, and several regulars here at The Blood Red Pencil have shared tips and advice about writing love scenes. Here is another bit of advice.
Men Are Not Women With Chest Hair
A while back, I had the pleasure of attending a workshop given by best selling romance author, Linda Howard. While the focus of the workshop was the Twelve Steps to Intimacy, I've already done a number of blog posts on that topic, (you can read a summary here)
Most of my books are romantic suspense, which puts them under the romance umbrella, which means the majority of my audience is female. I know there's an XY reader contingent of this blog, so any feedback from them is welcome.
I write books from the points of view of both men and women. Obviously, it's easier to write "female" but I do try very hard to make sure my men are actually "men" and, as the title of this blog suggests, not women with chest hair.
One of the topics Linda Howard covered was writing details. She pointed out that this was one place where men are really different from women. Women write detail in sex scenes, while men write detail in action scenes. And, since we were an audience of women, she told us we had to work especially hard when writing action scenes from a male character's POV.
She said that writing details in scenes of violence takes guts, but that we should suck it up, describing things that make us uncomfortable. And she urged us to remember the emotional detail as well as the physical. Violence, danger and sex have an emotional price, and that needs to come across on the page.
She used Barry Eisler and Vince Flynn as examples of suspense authors who write extremely detailed action scenes. Their fight scenes show every detail. She went on to say that Vince Flynn once said he wished he could write love scenes as easily as Linda Howard.
But, she said, if she had to write an action scene, this would be her first draft: "He was shot. It hurt. He shot back. The other guy died." (From that example, I'll let my readers extrapolate how a man might write a sex scene—and I've read all too many of them!)
So, while she (and most women) struggle to write an action/fight/violent scene accurately from a male character's head, men must dig deeper to write love scenes
Some observations: Men tend to focus on one thing at a time. She compared them to a rifle: one shot, one direction. Women tend to be more like shotguns, with shells scattering their contents in a wide array. Men are less likely to get sidetracked.
She closed with the point that there is one underlying quality we must understand, and that is how much men love women. Howard mentioned a friend of hers whose wife had passed away. He said he missed waking up in the morning, holding her in his arms, smelling her scent and falling back to sleep.
I know that if I leave the bed before my husband gets up, I will almost always find him on my side of the bed shortly thereafter. Whether he's aware of it or not, odds are, it's the familiar scent that draws him over.
And, in closing, to reiterate the power of the sex drive, Howard, who has been married to her husband for 36 years, said that once they were in the middle of an intense argument. When it appeared that there was no way for her to win, she said, "You may be right, but I'm the guardian of the gate to paradise."
Terry Odell is the author of numerous romantic suspense novels, as well as contemporary romance short stories. Most of her books are available in both print and digital formats. She’s the author of the Blackthorne, Inc. series, steamy romantic suspense novels featuring a team of covert ops specialists. Look for Terry's newest release. DEADLY SECRETS, A Mapleton Mystery, is her first non-romantic suspense novel. To see all her books, visit her Web site. You can also find her at her blog, Terry's Place, as well as follow her on Twitter, or visit her Facebook page.
Posted by Maryann Miller who tries her best with the action scenes and the love scenes, and appreciates all the good advice that has been shared by other writers and editors.