July 4, 2013

Incorporating the Senses When Writing a Sex Scene #RLFblog #writingtips

Forbid My Heart 
The key to any good love scene is to incorporate the five senses: sight, smell, taste, hearing, and touch. In addition, you want to provide an emotional response within the characters, so the reader can identify with them. For a love scene, that can be anything from downright innocence to absolute lust. In my new book, Forbid My Heart: A Luc and Rah Story I worked to include all the senses, and for Izzorah, who was inexperienced before meeting Luc, innocence. Luc is immortal and as jaded and worldly as they come. His delight in Izzorah's innocence is a surprise to him. For centuries, he'd thought having an inexperienced lover was too much work and not worth the trouble, but when he met Izzorah (in Surrender Love) he decided no amount of time spent would be too much. In this sequel, they are getting to know one another even better.

I'm going to share a short excerpt, and then show you some tips about how to incorporate the use of senses into your work.

Forbid My Heart is Science Fiction Romance, and Izzorah (Rah) is a Kin, a feline humanoid with catlike ears, eyes, claws hidden beneath human nails, and the ability to smell emotions. He and Luc are in the shower, which has a voice-controlled water system. The word "t'hahr" means "my heart" and "kosset" means "treasured" or "precious one." The scene is from Rah's point of view.
The water bounced off Luc, sending up rainbows in the mist. At the sight of him all wet and gleaming, Izzorah chewed on his lower lip until his fangs almost broke the skin. Luc's wide chest had a sprinkle of curly hair that trailed down the middle of his abs and led to a nest of black curls surrounding the most perfect cock Izzorah had ever seen. Thick, long, with a rosy head.
Izzorah tore his gaze away and stopped gawking like a child on his first visit to the city. "Is it okay if we use scented soap?"
Luc spoke a command, and the water aimed at and below his shoulders. He wiped a hand across his face and blinked past the water dripping in his eyes. "Whatever you want, kosset, but I thought Kin didn't use artificial scents."
"It's real. It was handmade back home. I bought it when I went shopping."
"I'd like that. There are sponges, cloths, and brushes next to the soap. Use whatever you want."
Izzorah picked up the soap. "I want to use my hands to bathe you. Is that okay?"
"Bathe me?" Luc smiled. "You want to bathe me?"
"Yes." He rose on tiptoe and brushed his lips against Luc's mouth, then wrapped his arms around Luc's neck. "I like touching you, t'hahr."
Arousal deepened his lover's scent. Luc's lashes were wet and dark. He rested a hand on Izzorah's neck, then squeezed and massaged the muscles.
"That feels good." Izzorah leaned into the sensual touch.
Luc lowered his head to kiss him.
Sliding soapy hands up and over Luc's back to his shoulders, Izzorah clung to him, mouth pressed against his lover's. When Luc parted his lips, Izzorah darted his tongue inside, flicking the tip. Izzorah molded his body to his lover's.
"Mmm. You taste so good, t'hahr." His rising cock stirred against Luc's. Kissing his way down the man's chin and up along his jaw, Izzorah stopped next to his ear. "Te shree tu," he whispered. "I love you." Izzorah took Luc's mouth once more and then withdrew, gazing up at Luc, trying to show with his face and ears all the adoration he felt.
"Touch me more, Rah. I love your hands on me."
Sliding both hands up Luc's chest, Izzorah spread his fingers in the man's curly hair and met Luc's gaze.
To provide a feast for the senses, the reader should find words and phrases that appeal to each of the senses. I'll list a few of the ones in this passage for you and we'll talk about how you can use a similar idea.

The scene above consists of 394 words, but about half of them relate to one of the senses. I chose this scene as an example because it was rich in this type of material. Your scene might not have as many; it might have more. The point is to make it as full of words that fit your description and mood as possible.

Think about what in your scene is a visual item. What do the characters see? Remember; don't tell us the character saw these things: show us what they see. Which lines are more powerful?
  • Izzorah saw the water bouncing off Luc, sending up rainbows in the mist.
  • The water bounced off Luc, sending up rainbows in the mist.

  • Izzorah took in Luc's wide chest. It had a sprinkle of curly hair that trailed down the middle of his abs...
  • Luc's wide chest had a sprinkle of curly hair that trailed down the middle of his abs...
In both cases, it's the second line. Whenever you tell the reader what the character is looking at, you are stepping between the reader and the character. Get out of your readers' way. Let them see what the character sees on their own. If your love scene has any instances of you telling the character what one of them is looking at, edit it to remove those mentions. Your scene will be much more powerful -- and hot.

In this scene, Izzorah uses a scented soap. It didn't matter what the scent was, it was the fact that it had a scent at all. For Izzorah, who's a Kin, smell is extremely important. He can smell emotions, so the fact that he offers to use a scented soap is actually rather telling. He trusts Luc enough to be willing to mask his odor, even a little bit. Toward the end of the scene, the phrase "arousal deepened his lover's scent" gives us a little sample of what he's experiencing. When you create a world of scent, it can give your readers an entirely new level of enjoyment for your story. If a character smells smoke, you know there's fire. When writing an item into a scene, stop and think whether it has a smell, and whether that smell holds any significance for the characters.

In this scene, there was little mention of taste, other than Izzorah saying "You taste so good" to Luc. But in your love scene, you can have one character lick another, think about, or describe what they taste like during a kiss, or oral sex. Are they sharing food? It can be sensual dynamite to have lovers using food during their sexual play. Chocolate body paint, anyone?

There is water dripping in this scene, and the shower is running. In your scene, what are the sounds in the background? Are your characters in the city? Country? Outer space? Are there engine sounds? Is music playing? Is there gunfire? Make the most of whatever sounds are in the characters' proximity.

List the items your characters pick up, handle, touch, use, or fondle. Don't forget to include the other character(s) in your scene. ;) For Luc and Rah, there are sponges, cloths, and brushes, but Izzorah prefers his hands. Luc massages Izzorah's neck, and he leans into the sensual touch. He slides his hands up and over Luc's body, into the curly hair on his chest, and molds his body to his lover's. He kisses his way down Luc's chin and up along his jaw. Most love scenes lend themselves to touch.

Showing Izzorah's Innocence
This is a very short scene, but at this stage of his experience with Luc, he is still quite innocent. Luc is over twelve thousand years old. Rah is in his early twenties. I used the phrase "...stopped gawking like a child on his first visit to the city" to show that he's aware of his naiveté. Twice in this scene, he asks if something is "okay." Near the end, the young Kin tries to "...show with his face and ears all the adoration he felt."
If you have a less experienced character, you might have them fumble items, not know which words to use, blush or stammer, or as Izzorah does in a scene in a previous book, get so carried away by pleasure that he stops giving and simply accepts, too lost to realize he's done so. The other character can either continue giving (perhaps with a smile) or if he/she is as innocent as the one receiving, perhaps things fall apart and don't go as well as planned. Either way, it can be a lovely way of showing the differences between the characters, and make for an endearing scene.

Luc's Experience
The world-weary Luc is savoring every moment with Izzorah, enjoying seeing him react to pleasure. To show Luc is in control, there are subtle differences in the way each character reacts to the environment. Izzorah asks; Luc answers. Luc speaks a command for the shower to spray in a certain area. He says "whatever you want" -- giving control (since he already has it). He directs Izzorah to "touch me more" and tells him, "I love your hands on me." Izzorah asks permission. Luc says openly what he wants.

When you write using the senses as well as the emotional capacity of your characters you offer a richer experience to your readers. Stay out of the way and let them experience it without you explaining what they read. If you use powerful imagery, they will figure it out for themselves. Let readers see, hear, taste, smell, and touch right along with your characters and they will come back for more.

Forbid My Heart: A Luc and Rah Story
Surrender Love
the prequel to
Forbid My Heart
These characters were introduced in the book Surrender Love, which won the 2010 EPIC eBook Award for Science Fiction Erotic Romance.
Waking in the middle of the night, Izzorah begins to worry. His lover has pledged to take him back to visit his homeworld, but Izzorah knows the fact that they're gay could cause their death if the Kin Pride Council hears about it. His heart tells him to trust Luc, but Izzorah's fear is real. He snuggles up to Luc, seeking comfort.
Luc is immortal. He has the perspective to understand his lover's concerns and not worry about them. To distract Izzorah, Luc tries a sexy game of dominance and submission played during their shared shower. Izzorah's unreserved trust and respect make Luc long to wipe out any shadow of trouble or sorrow. He would turn the Kin homeworld upside down to protect him, but convincing Izzorah he can do it will mean confessing a truth Luc is not yet ready to share.
Luc and Rah must learn: where the heart leads -- follow.
Available only on the Loose Id website.
I first shared this post on Charlie Cochet's Blog: The Purple Rose Tea House http://is.gd/fmh_charlie

Kayelle Allen is the owner of the Romance Lives Forever blog. She a multi-published, EPIC Award winning author. She writes Contemporary Romance, Gay Romance, Erotic Science Fiction Romance, Mainstream Fantasy, BDSM, and non-fiction. Her website has over 100 pages of places to explore within the Tarthian Empire, where many of her stories unfold.
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