Wednesday, January 28, 2015

The Spice of Variety – The Importance of Mixing It Up In the Boudoir (On The Page, Of Course!)

My personal oeuvre is gritty, raw, erotic romance. I have Dominant Alpha heroes, and feisty submissive heroines. I love intense love scenes, filled with graphic action hot enough to scald. But there are always occasions where I have to mix it up.

By and large I find, in my writing and in the erotic romances I read, that no matter how intense the story is, no matter how dark or dramatic, there come those moments when you need things less intense and more languid. Filled with less boom-chicka-bow-wow and more with velvet caresses and sensual sighs. Where perhaps, something kinder and gentler is called for. Perhaps one of the characters is wounded, at a black point, and the love scene is, in part, a healing or comforting for that character. Or another alternative that may be a perfect fit, something lighthearted - spiced with wry humor, or giddy joy – the occasion when nothing goes right, but it’s all okay! Where my lovers learn to laugh at themselves and relax . . . just a bit more (which we know will make things even hotter the next time around, right?)

One of the things I therefore focus on is the appropriateness of the tone and action of the scene: Does it fit the mood? The place where the characters are both in their own heads at that moment? In the course of their relationship? All while furthering that relationship, working smoothly with the plot, and advancing it at the same time.

I also survey of my love scene “roster” once I’ve got a rough first draft, to ensure that the mood and intensity does vary, so the reader is not treated to the same old, same old love scene throughout. (That’s a major complaint I’ve seen concerning the love scenes in FSOG, for example.) No one in the real world has sex the same way all the time, or feels the same way every time they are having sex. The intensity varies, the commitment varies, and the emotions vary.

Our moods fuel our lovemaking. Internal and external conflicts of my characters will fuel theirs. As will the seasons, surroundings, the atmosphere (one example is the staple of romantic suspense and romantic thrillers where the lovers are in the thick of danger – gotta love those adrenalin-heightened couplings!).

Likewise, the love scenes will morph as the characters and relationships grow and change. That introductory, somewhat stilted, or perhaps edgy, or eager and unfamiliar first love scene – where everything is being experienced for the first time, and those first sights of one another, those first tastes and touches are so vital.

Then the story grows into those scenes where the lovers have become more comfortable with one another, but are still discovering the depths of their passion; they’re exploring and trying new things – but there are still mysteries to unfold, and discoveries about one another to make.

And we continue to progress, reaching those scenes where the lovers are embroiled in their conflicts and problems as you approach the dark moments of the book. Their differences, fears and uncertainty infiltrate the scene. It might make the love/sex desperate, or yearning – or lousy. It might make one lover selfish and demanding, or another withdrawn and hesitant. And it might be a moment for coitus interruptus – the better to ramp up the tension, sexual and otherwise, as the characters deal with it.

Finally, the couple’s emotions are fully mature, and the depth of their love is powerful and strong and committed. As we approach their HEA, so does their sexual relationship swell in power and importance. Everything has become clear. They’ve overcome all the crises. They’ve fallen apart and healed those rifts. They’re recommitted, or reunited, with a soul deep connection that is illustrated in their lovemaking. Physical and emotional have become one, and the coupling is a hallowed moment as the sex becomes an affirmation of their romantic journey together.

So. Each of the moments within my stories have to satisfy many criteria. First and foremost, from a technical perspective, I want to change it up. Keep the sex varied for the readers (and my characters – can you imagine the complaints?!).

Secondly, I want my love scenes to fit smoothly in the moment in the story in which they appear. A humorous love scene in a dark moment probably wouldn’t work. And a wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am when they’ve just acknowledged they’re madly in love would be inappropriate, too. And no brand new couple, falling into the sack for the first time is going to be utterly uninhibited. No matter how tough or feisty or Alpha, we all hold back a bit of ourselves in a brand new relationship, right? It’s a protective instinct to avoid hurt and rejection.

Thirdly, I must remain true to my characters, which means that even as the love scenes evolve along with the story, and with the relationship, they must reflect the ongoing tone, or mood of the moment. The actions cannot go completely against the characters’ grain. But they can reflect that changing moods of the character.

My hero may be a crude and rough sadist, but he will find himself in a romantic situation where his emotions, and desires, prompt him to seek a different way to experience that sexual relationship. By doing so, it allows my hero an opportunity for revelation – for growth. As I did with my down and dirty sadist hero, Hud, in Hold Tight, when he abandons all of the paddlings and spankings, the erotic humiliation and total command of his lover, Eden, and discovers that the more vanilla experience is just as rich, and enjoyable – and even more naked, emotionally – without the trappings of the lifestyle or kinky touches. The simple act of making love is a breakthrough moment as he realizes she’s “the one”. It’s not just the kink. It’s the woman.

Likewise, no matter how freely my submissive Eden gives herself to Hud, there comes that moment when she turns dominant, forcing him to accept her and his own desires, and becomes the driving force of that particular love scene – the climactic one that ends the story.

The bottom line is that I want my characters to change it up in the bedroom. It keeps things lively for them – and keeps my readers looking ahead to see how the characters’ physical relationship grows along with their emotional relationship.

Because as we all know, variety is the spice of life!

Lise Horton writes super steamy erotic romance and, as Lydia Hill, intense erotica. She’s published in full-length fiction by Carina Press, and in short fiction by Ravenous Romance, Riverdale Avenue Press (a recent naughty coupling can be found in RAB’s “Bad Santa”) and her latest story, “Tryst of Fate”, as Lydia Hill, is included in the Cleis Press “Best Women’s Erotica of 2015” anthology, edited by the iconic Violet Blue.. For more on her thoughts on writing romance and the writing life, you can find her and all her social media links at