Tuesday, November 17, 2020

Bringing the Heat in Your Story

Posted by: Deborah A Bailey

Years ago, when I wrote short stories, I didn't include love scenes. I'd have the characters flirt and maybe have a kiss or two. But that's as far as it went. Anything more was behind closed doors (if the characters went that far).

When I wrote my first novel, however, I wanted to do more than mention their intimacy. I wanted to show it. Unfortunately, that presented another problem. How far to go? And when would it be the right time for them to go all the way?

Going for a high heat level doesn't necessarily make for a better romance – though it might be fun to read. 😊. About a year ago I did an informal survey of my readers to see what they preferred. A lot of them loved the steamier stories, but most said they'd be okay with less heat - if they enjoyed the story.

That makes sense, of course. When a story is good, that's really the bottom line. It's just that there are times when authors feel they have to add more heat because that's what everyone wants. But, based on my survey, that's not always true.


It's not only about the big moment

Even after the main characters get together, the intimate moments should continue. It's not just about the big sex scene (or scenes).

Here are a few ways to add the heat without necessarily having high heat:


Even if the conflict between the main characters has subsided for a while, conflict still keeps things interesting. Without it, there's no story. For instance, in my lion shifter story, Family Pride: Blood Fever, the hero likes to resolve arguments by being intimate. The heroine gets frustrated because she wants to talk about the issues. Their attraction for each other keeps the heat level high, even when they don't agree. Even better, their conflict continues as well since it plays out in how they express intimacy.


Little gestures between the main characters can be very sexy. These gestures can happen at any time, whether th characters are about to have a hot scene or not.


These can be little things like holding hands as they walk or kissing before they leave the house. Small gestures add to the feeling that these characters know and have affection for each other. They also don't have to be preludes to bigger scenes. They can just show how the characters feel about each other. 

It surprised me to hear how many readers skip over sex scenes. I'm guessing there are quite a few reasons why they do. But I also think that showing small intimate moments can help to show that the characters' love life isn't only expressed during the hot, sexy times.

That's why I think having your characters show affection and love (and lust) in various ways is a must. What they feel shouldn't be saved for the "big moments." As long as the story engages the reader, they'll be invested in the characters -  and be less inclined to skip over scenes.

High heat is great, but there are times when you can keep hot without going all the way. 


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