Thursday, June 23, 2011

Do You Need a Love Scene?


Please, don’t mistake this for an inappropriately personal question. I’m referring to your fiction, specifically to your fiction written about and for adults.

The easy answer to the question is that sex sells. Which is true but shallow. The commercial viability of titillation cannot be denied, but it doesn’t touch the heart of the story.

That must always be your first concern – the heart of the story. You create the world where this heart beats. To keep it beating from start to finish must be your priority. You must keep it beating, not only with hot blood, but with truth as well – truth, as in authenticity.

Here’s the bottom line on that score. If you are telling the story of an adult character and you omit or avoid that character’s human sexuality, you’re not telling the full authentic story of her life or his experience.

More to the point in storytelling terms, you’ve squandered an opportunity – for drama and intensity, for conflict and struggle. You’ve missed a chance to tell the most powerful story possible about your character.

No situation possesses more potential for struggle, both internal/emotional/psychological and external, than two adult humans traversing the minefield of sexual attraction. Add the vulnerability of these characters gambling with love to the mix of your story and you have fireworks at your fingertips.

What storyteller would take a pass on that? Certainly not a storyteller – an author – who hopes to attract a wide audience to her stories.

Which brings us back to “sex sells” – or does it? Readers are drawn to stories that portray romantic/love/sexual relationships because this is the stuff of life’s deepest mysteries.

This is also, as I said, a minefield – dangerous ground we’ve all ventured onto at various times in our experience with varying degrees of success and satisfaction. There be dragons because there be more questions than answers.

AND – there be rich storytelling material. Rich and universal.

I believe that this is the true explanation for the strong sales potential here. Touch the tremulous territory of the libido, and you also touch the heart. The heart of human life at its most sensitive and fragile place.

This is tough stuff to write, even tougher to write well. Future posts will tackle the problem that poses.

In the meantime, do you need a love scene? If so, how explicit should that scene be? Only you can answer these questions for your story and for yourself as a writer.

I don’t generally use this space for promoting my own ventures. In this case, however, I could be of help in your struggle to write effective love scenes. With my seminar, “How to Write About Sex and Respect Yourself in the Morning.”

Let me know if you’d like me to present this seminar to your local writers’ group. I’d be pleased to teach you how to put love in your fiction and, more crucial still, to love doing it.

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