Award-winning and USA Today Bestselling author Alina K. Field earned a Bachelor of Arts Degree in English and German literature, but she found her true interest in reading and writing historical romance. Though her roots are in the Midwest, after six very, very, very cold years in Chicago, she moved to Southern California where she shares a midcentury home with two furry four-legged girls and keeps a dependable stash of lollipops for the munchkins in her life.
Why Write Romance?
I know some folks who look down their noses at the romance genre. That’s okay. There are genres I, as a reader, don’t much care for either.
I’m stealing this quote from author Sorcha Dubois:
An author I admire named M.C. Beaton once responded to this question by saying, “I never wanted to be a literary writer. I wanted to be an entertainer. All I wanted was to give what a lot of writers had given me: a good time on a bad day.”
Not all romances are equal in quality, but the best ones always both entertain and affirm hope.
But what about the intimate scenes?
I know some folks are squeamish about the love scenes and prefer “clean” romance.
“Clean” is a marketing label for romances, but in this case, it’s not the opposite of “dirty”, it just means that there is no sexual intimacy in the story, on the page or in the character’s thoughts. My novelette, A Leap Into Love, fits that category, as well as some of my more recent stories. The rest of my books contain love scenes.
In a recent discussion with other authors, Jude Knight shared these thoughts on this topic (quoted with her permission):
First, it isn’t a romance if the main couple are not physically attracted to one another. It may be a great friendship, but it isn’t a romance. For the author to note that attraction is not a breach of any heat level promise.
Second, as a reader and as a writer, I don’t care about the normal gradients of heat level. I tend to avoid put tab a into slot b type descriptions, and skip them when I come across them in a book, but they won’t prevent me from reading an otherwise good book. I want to see a couple interacting emotionally, and opening up to one another emotionally often occurs when they open up physically.
What I do care about is that every interaction between the couple furthers our knowledge of the story by showing character, giving us plot points, or otherwise taking the story in the direction it has to go. In some stories, the couple need to go to bed. I’ve written a couple, and I’ve read many more. For example, I’ve been privileged in the past couple of days to edit a story where the woman has been subjected to unpleasant sexual relations and told that the experience is normal and she’ll come to like it. We need to see her gentle, considerate, kind new lover helping to heal her emotional wounds.
Which brings me to point three. The world is awash with porn, which teaches a transactional version of sex focused on male gratification. I’d like every high school male and female in the world to be exposed to good descriptions of consensual, loving, life-giving sex between a committed couple as a counter to this poison. Boys should learn that they need to respect and consider their partners; that female sexual reactions are not the same as male reactions. Girls should learn that they have a right to be respected and considered.
Writing good love scenes is difficult. In my opinion as a reader, love scenes don’t work well if they are “add-ons” and there’s no emotional revelation or connection. On the other hand, some stories don’t work well without them, as Jude pointed out in her example.
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