© 2016 by Catherine Bilson

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Book Review: Writing Love Scenes: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors by Rayne Hall and Susanne McCarthy

November 3, 2019

First of all, let me just comment that this book isn’t just for romance writers. If you’re a man concerned about his work ever winding up featured on the @menwritingwomen Twitter account, for example, or you’re terrified of one day being nominated for the Bad Sex In Fiction Award, you should make this book required reading, because the authors definitely know what they’re talking about, and they disseminate the knowledge in easily-digested, comprehensible chunks paired with sensible exercises to improve your writing. 

 

One of my favourite exercises, for example, is a suggestion to improve your ‘first meeting’ scene by writing a scene set 50 years on, where your characters are reminiscing about their first impressions. This really makes you focus on what makes that particular scene memorable, what will make it exciting to the reader.

 

The title might be slightly misleading, because this isn’t just about how to write sex scenes (although there’s plenty of useful information on that in here, too). It’s really about how to write a love story, whether that’s the focus of the story (a romance) or whether it’s a romantic subplot in any other genre of fiction. There’s useful advice on how and why LGBT love stories and stories about characters from varying cultural backgrounds should be portrayed differently - are the characters out, for example, are there external environmental factors which will affect their interactions and a romance between them? 

 

This is a really excellent guide to make you think hard about the love story you’re building, whether it’s a sub-plot or the major focus of your story. From sweet and chaste right through to erotic, every story will benefit from the author taking a good hard look at who their characters are and what makes them ‘click’ as a believable couple - or indeed, what makes them fail, if you’re writing a non-romance which doesn’t need a happy ending. You’ll find a very useful guide as to where and how a romance plot should fit into your story depending on genre conventions - very different for fantasy or for thrillers, for example.

 

There are useful references to further reading, depending on what specific skills you need to develop in your writing - Rayne Hall has an entire series of over 30 Writer’s Craft series covering different specific aspects of the craft, and I’d definitely look into which of the others are useful for you. They all appear to be available, at the time of writing this review, in the Kindle Unlimited program, which is fairly rare for non-fiction writing reference books. I’d definitely take advantage of being able to borrow them all through KU and do some study to improve the craft of your writing!

 

Five stars for an extremely useful guide to writing a believable love story, whether you’re writing romance or any other genre.

Writing Love Scenes: Professional Techniques for Fiction Authors is available now.

 

 

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