Wednesday, August 4, 2010

Wednesday's Classroom

Adding Steam to Your Love Scenes – Lesson #1 
© 2010 Lynn Crain

Welcome back to Wednesday's Classroom. Last week I told you all that I would be presenting the free online workshop, Adding Steam to Your Love Scenes. Here is the first lesson. There is an exercise at the end of the lesson which I would love you all to do. You can post it here for everyone to see, or you can send it to me privately at At the very least, please leave a comment so I know you've been there!

Lesson #1

Set the mood for both you and your characters

So what do I really mean by setting the mood, you might ask. Most of you do this without even thinking about it. Remember when you took that long bath putting bath salts in the water and lit the candles around the tub to create that ultimate experience? Yeah, I know you do. You wanted something relaxing and at the same time exhilarating. Remember that first date with your loved one? How about that first dinner? Or first night?

No matter what you’re doing you need to set the stage in order to get ‘into the mood’ for writing, especially writing love scenes. There is nothing worse than trying to write a witty, sexy tryst when you can’t get out of the doldrums.

Here are some sure fire ways to get yourself in the mood for writing great love scenes.

1. Read books the day before in the genre for which you’re writing.

Now I realize that this may sound hokey BUT there is nothing more stimulating than reading something that gets the creative juices flowing. Pick up that latest book by your favorite author. Or even get something new and different by some one you haven’t read before. Make sure that whatever you pick up, it is in the genre you are writing at the moment. There is nothing more frustrating than to be writing a romance when that erotic love scene is rolling around in your head.

Some of my favorite authors are Morgan Hawke, Sherrilyn Kenyon, Debbie Macomber, Emilie Richards, Nora Roberts, Melissa Schroeder, Joy Nash, Jennifer Ashley and Nikki Rivers to name a few. All of those people write very different things so it would depend on what I am writing the next day just what I’d be reading.

One other thing, do your best to turn off your internal editor. You know that one where you pick apart the book you are reading. This is for enjoyment and if you find yourself editing or being critical of the book you’re reading, find another book.

2. Watch a romantic movie.

For me, I just love watching a romantic movie. And it doesn’t matter when it is as the day before you write, the day you write or even the day after you write will work. It can be an old classic like An Affair to Remember or a new classic like While You Were Sleeping or Notting Hill and it can even be a brand new movie like Sweet Home Alabama. It can even be an autobiography like I Walk The Line. There’s just something wicked about Johnny Cash when you see him as a young man. But the point is, to lose your self in the romance and the story. It’s easy to write about something when you’re feeling the same emotions.

Oh…almost forgot one for those erotic romance writers…there’s nothing so sexy as the stair scene in The Thomas Crowne Affair. It burned up the screen.

3. Listen to music while you write that all important scene.

It has been said by many, many people, and proven too, that music can set the mood. Every wonder why the Scottish took their bagpipes into battle with them? It’s because just the sound of the pipes could work the men up into a frenzy and I mean frenzy. My husband is Scottish and when we went to Scotland, we stopped to hear the pipes any time we could. When we saw the lone piper at Castle Eileen Donan, we felt lonely, when we saw the bagpipe brigade practice for the Edinburgh Tattoo, we felt invigorated. There is nothing like a good song to put someone in the mood for anything. Think about how music is used to set the scene in a movie. You know exactly what is happening just from the music. Think Jaws, think Somewhere in Time and you’ll understand exactly what I mean.

I always listen to music when I’m writing and I am definitely more productive. If you go to my MySpace, you will find a band called the All American Rejects belting out their latest hit. I saw this music in a Battlestar Galactica announcement and traced it down because I loved the sound so much not to mention the really sexy scenes depicted in the commercial. My daughter-in-law was so surprised that I like this band she called my son right away and told him. I love music. Any music.

My kids gave me an IPOD for Christmas a couple of years ago and to be honest, I listen to it a lot but while I’m at my computer, I just turn on Itunes. I frequently spend an hour or so downloading music because I never know just what I’ll find interesting some days.

For me, a day without music is like a day without sunshine.

4. Look at phrase books.

Again, this may seem a little strange but when you are stuck in a scene and nothing seems to work, pick up a phrase book and see if it can jolt you into thinking up something on your own. The two that I use are ‘The Romance Writer’s Phrase Book’ compiled by Jean Kent I believe. This is a really, really old book. It’s from 1984 and I have two copies which are both falling apart. The ISBN 10 is 0399510028 and the ISBN 13 is 978-0399510021. It’s available from Amazon.

A new but similar book, The Millennium Phrase Book by Rebecca Andrews, is done very well. The author has updated many things and has taken into account the change in the market. This book is published by Highland Press and the ISBN 13 is 978-0-9787139-5-9.

Sometimes, I will just look at either of these books and get lost in the phrases as I roll them around in my mind to see if they will fit the story I’m working on at the moment. And since they are phrase books, you can copy things word for word if you’d like. Me, I just get the general idea and put it into my own words.

5. Look at sexy pictures.

I’m sure that many of you are thinking by this time that I have truly lost my mind. But humans are sense oriented creatures. We have to be able to touch, taste, hear, smell and see something for it to mean anything to us. Most of us tend to be very visual creatures in this day and age with everything being in our face. Why do you think that kids are so zoned into the computer games? A lot of times our visual perceptions supersede any of our other senses. Think of the car accidents because someone is not paying attention to what they are doing. Most of those people are looking the other way because had they really been looking at what they should have been looking at, the accident or incident probably wouldn’t have happened.

Last week when I was uploading something to offsite storage, I couldn’t figure out why the link would not work correctly. I worked with it over an hour before I sent it off to a colleague who immediately fired back, ‘Why is there a CW at the end of the filename?’ I had looked at that name for over an hour and had never noticed the extra letters. Talk about a ‘Duh’ moment. Our eyes tend to see what they want to see and sometimes what they see really isn’t what is there.

So just what do I mean by looking at sexy pictures, you might ask. Well, you can get some reference books like I have, The Better Sex Guide, The Kama Sutra, and Ultimate Sex to see the really erotic sexual positions as well as some great description. These books visually show us just how sexy and erotic sex can be. Now for the tamer side, I look on photo sites like or These places have some of the sexiest pictures you will ever see. Some people are fully clothed and others aren’t but you don’t see a thing because most things are rated PG on these sites. Matter of fact, one whole lesson will be on less is more because you don’t have to see everything to know it’s sexy.


1. Give me a list of your five favorite authors and tell me why you like to read their books.

2. Give me your five top picks for most romantic movie. Again, give me a little insight as to why you think this movie is great.

3. What is your favorite music and why. Do you listen to any of the current bands? Why or why not?

4. Do you think phrase books would be useful? Why or why not?

5. Do you think as a writer you would find looking at pictures useful to writing a novel?

Hope you all enjoyed this first lesson in the workshop.

Until next week…



  1. Lynn,
    You give such important info and tips.
    I may only be an avid reader but it still is interesting to read. :)
    Carol L.

  2. Always interesting to try to see things from a writer's POV. Makes me appreciate authors even more for all the work they do in trying to perfect their craft.