My First Attempt At Writing Romance

Hey all. Today I thought I’d share something from my editing pile that got me thinking. In my line of writing, I don’t get many chances to write romance. It’s not that I don’t want to; in fact, I’d kill for the opportunity to write some more smutty scenes! It’s just that science fiction and stories that focus more on the social and existential questions don’t call for a lot of love and/or sex scenes, not generally at any rate. Somehow, things like sex are expected to be just part of the background, unless the material truly calls for it.

Luckily, since I began writing modern-day fiction, I’ve found that opportunities for a little love play and eroticism have increased. Unfortunately, I found myself kind of fumbling with them since they just weren’t something I was used to. But I managed to soldier on, write them as best I could with an eye towards speaking from the female perspective (the plot called for it), and tried my damnedest to make it as hot as possible.

So today, I thought I’d share a sample chapter form the upcoming Data Miners that I dealt with all that. Occurring later in the novel, it is a scene where two FBI agents, while on assignment, have an opportunity to explore their growing mutual infatuation. As always, the timing is not quite ideal, but as we all know, things like love and attraction do not wait for ideal circumstances. The following scene is the first time they experience something more than the usual kinship. But first, some background…

Agent Nina Righetti (told from her POV) and Angent Winston Heinlein have just finished burning the midnight oil in the Boston hotel where they are staying for the night. Before coming to town, they had already been on their first “date”, which consisted of a quick meal before being forced to look into the possibility that one of their own was spying on them. At this point, they are of the opinion that their investigation might be the result of a total set-up, and that they are co-conspirators in bringing this to light. After finishing their little tete-a-tete, Winston is all set to head back to his room so they get some sleep before their early morning.


*               *               *

 “Well… thanks for the late night dose of outrage. We must do this again sometime.”

Winston turns around in the doorway and laughs. The file folder hangs in his right hand, his jacket in the other and draped over his shoulder.

“Yeah, should have brought some food, I guess.”

“Hmm, yes, we seem to be good at that.”

“Good at what?”

“Mixing work with dinner.”

Winston blushes. “Oh yeah. We still could get dinner, if you’re not opposed to getting some overpriced room service.”

“Well, the bureau is footing the bill…”

Nina checks her watch. The sun is disappearing outside, and according to the concierge, the kitchen doesn’t close until eleven. But one look at Winston scraps that idea. His hair is disheveled and sticking up at the back, like an alfalfa sprout. Her own blouse is tousled and untucked, her hair no longer behaving. Through their little soirée, they managed to work up a bit of a sweat. Not the best circumstances for a second date, and in a cheap hotel room no less!

“Think it’s a bit too late for that,” she says. “I think I’ll just catch a shower and tuck in.”

Winston nods. He looks just the slightest bit disappointed.

“Right, I think I might too.” He gives his underarm a sniff, recoils comically. They share a brief chuckle. Then comes the pause, the nice, long, awkward pause as he stands there, neither one of them knowing what to say or how to break off this moment.

“Then I guess this is goodnight,” he says. Nina nods, and given a few seconds to ponder what to do next, puts out her hand. Winston gives her a funny look but takes it, shakes it heartily.

“Well, good night then, agent Righetti. See you in the morning.”

“Bright and early,” she says. Another pause. She notices his hair again and can’t stop fixating on the spike at the back. She can endure its presence no longer.

“I’m sorry, this is bothering me,” she says, and reaches out to flatten it. Her hands land on around his head, the warmth and slight tinge of dampness registering on her plans. She can smell him too now, the faint scent of aftershave and detergent punctuated by a little of his musk.

And now she’s completely still. His hair is fixed, but her hands are still there. She looks up at his face and is caught there, caught in the limits of his smell, of his embrace. She could pull away, but something is keeping her there. The feel of him, the scent of him, pulling her forward. She notices for the first time that they’re not green like she previously thought. There’s the small ring of hazel in there too, and they’re boring into her. She recognizes that look, imagines her brown eyes are staring back at him with that same expression.

She feels the touch of his lips then, warm and gentle against hers. They are locked there for what feels like hours, a tingling sensation spreading throughout her body. She can feel little else except for her panties melting away. That and her legs going wobbly.

And then… they pull apart, slowly. She’s embarrassed, at least until she sees the look on his face. It’s the kind of face Garrett makes whenever they’ve fucked. That happy, stupid vacant look a man gets after he’s come, but Winston also looks surprised. Happily surprised, like he wanted to kiss and is amazed she’d want to do it back. She suddenly has the impression that it was her who fired first, though it’s hard to tell.

Winston clears his throat. “Um… well… goodnight.”

She nods and puts her hand to her lips. With the return of normal sensation, she can feel the hot tinge of blood rushing to her face. Most of it appears to be returning from other areas of her body.

“Yes…” she says, clearing her throat. “Good night.”

Winston steps back, turns sideways, and begins to walk away. He stops, turns around, pardons his mistake, and walks the other way. She has to resist the urge to laugh. Watching him pace off, one would think he’s forgotten how. Either that or he’s been unable to maintain enough blood flow for both his heads. She watches him go a second longer and then seals herself back in her room.

Leaning up against the door, she can feel her face flushing again and again, waves of hot blood rolling over her. Her legs still feel a bit weak, prompting her to slide further down the door. The slight tang of sweat she was feeling before has become a lot more potent now. And it smells different on her too. No longer just stress and anger, there’s a new scent there overpowering them all.

I need… a shower… she thinks. A nice… long… hot shower.

Naturally, this is not the last time the two will have a romantic run in, but it was the first scene that I wrote of its kind. Ladies especially, I would like to know what you think of it. Does it capture the essence of a romantic encounter, as told from a woman’s point of view? If not, what needs to change to capture the hotness factor?

More on that front as the book nears completion. And stay tuned for my review of the new Batman movie as well. Processing, but expect it to hit the page by tomorrow morning at the latest!

15 thoughts on “My First Attempt At Writing Romance

  1. I think you’ve done great! The physical descriptions in particular are awesome. The hardest part with romance is layering in the emotion. Including some more of her thoughts/reactions to pieces of information. ie. Winston blushes. What does she think of that? Does she find it cute, unique? It’s a sweet tell, does she smile. At the point where she’s embarrassed, back it up. Why is she embarrassed? What are the reprecussions etc. Does she blink furiously, stare at him? I’d imagine that’s a big moment for her, the whole WTF have I done then the relief that it’s ok. I love the descriptions of his face post-kiss and the scent of sweat. They are just fantastic. Hope this has helped a little and I haven’t over-stepped.

    1. Hehe, it was great, thanks. People around here are so respectful of my feelings! It makes me think I grew up in a household full of weirdos, where terms like “dumbass” and the question “how many r’s are there in moron?” are not endearing or normal 😉

  2. I’m terrified of writing sex scenes. Because there’s such a fine line to walked between smut and fluff. Or just weirdness. Every time I read one of Rob Sawyer’s sex scenes, I feel embarrassed for him. They are just awkward in a way I can’t quite pinpoint. :/

    This was pretty good. Not super hot, but not embarrassing either. The melting panties thing stopped me tho. I get where you’re going, but its an odd word choice. It’s not bad exactly, but in the middle of a romantic scene, I don’t want to think, “What an odd word choice,” kwim?

    Was that helpful? Feel free to disregard it…

      1. No, no. Sorry it was a long day at work…I wasn’t sure if you were serious. Rob Sawyer writes good stuff, but the sex scenes are just icky.
        50 Shades was written by a woman (E. L. James), and so far there hasn’t been any sex. 0_o But given that it is written at the level of a YA novel I’m not very hopeful that the sex will be good .

  3. I agree on the panties melting a way thing. That’s not something a woman would think to herself. Also, the line about maybe she had “fired way, or fired first.” That’s guy speak totally.
    As a note, I think most woman don’t use the word fuck for someone that they’ve slept with unless its someone they’re trying to keep at a distance emotionally. She would use it when she’s feeling weary, cynical and like she’d given up on love. In all honestly, even then most women would say slept with. They’d use that term when they’re talking to someone else to convince them of how hard they are and that they weren’t emotionally involved. Get laid, or slept with, or even just plain had sex with would be more up a woman’s alley. Otherwise, the scene was pretty good.
    On a note about the dialogue. I’m not sure how it is in Canada but most people don’t use the word must, hardly ever in the US. Should would be the preference. In looking at the dialogue, it seems a bit stilted. Like starting something off with a hmmm. I don’t know anyone that does that in real life.

    Again, otherwise, I thought it was great. Hope I didn’t overstep myself. You mentioned in your comments that people are too gentle or don’t want to say anything. Its the same problem when I ask for feedback and it can be damned annoying.

    1. No, you’re notes are appreciated. Just one question, where did “must” come up and what’s the problem with it in context? Also, Garrett and her are friends with benefits, so she’s definitely keeping him at a distance. Winston is the guy for whom things will actually have meaning.

  4. I believe the scene was well done, providing a sense of the backstory without a dump, the immediate environment, and where the two characters were in their course of “romance.” I agree with the flavor of the other posts. I think the only things that work against the scene are the sensual allusions given the seedy room, the characters are worn and may need showers. From the tech view I get where you, the writer is coming from. As a reader, there’s an evolution and during the lead up scenes, I want to be carried away; otherwise why would I turn to fiction. I’ve got my own laundry and dishes to attend to, right? It’s hard to bond with characters in romance that don’t elevate me to a higher place and make my own heart race. I felt that characters were “tired” and that deflated the moment. Perhaps if after the kiss, they were more alive then I would be too as the reader. You’ve done your job in getting me to feel for them (pity) at the end of the evening but in romance, at the point of the kiss, I shouldn’t be able to wait for the words to appear on the page…and then I want more. Hope that adds a layer of what the reader is looking for…or not.

  5. I know what the general tone my comment is going to be so I must make it clear that I enjoy your blog and respect what you write, even though, I’m not into Science Fiction.

    I read your blog because it is interesting, clear and educates me is aspects I ignore. For this: Thank you.

    I must also make it clear that I do not possess writing experience, that I do not plan on becoming a writer and that my editorial pretentiousness regarding what you wrote can only be understood in light of the Dunning-Kruger effect.

    My opinion is only that of a man who is eclectic when it comes to reading and to women. I enjoy both significantly.

    Here goes.

    From the outset something that I would consider reviewing is the “thanks for the outrage” clause. In all these years I’ve never heard a woman actually say thank you in any sense after having sex. It could be that this fits in with her character and their relationship, but still, at least up until now I’ve never met a woman who has said thanks, or, wait, yes, once, but it was whispered to my ear and it was a broad “thanks” for many things, and I’m not sure the just having had sex was included. Also, I think that no matter how great the chemistry and sex was, they tend not to be the ones suggesting “we must” have sex again; I’ve found they tend to express this non verbally, or at most they say something more in the lines of, “at this rate, if we’re not careful, we’ll never get that report in”. And then they smile, give you a small kiss or something.

    I don’t know the characters but Winston does appear somewhat innocent or very young. He blushes. Blushing men, I think, do not easily conform to female ideals of manliness. I am not a sensitive person and have little tact for these things so I could be wrong in this appreciation.

    Also, if Nina is wearing her watch it means she didn’t take it off (was it a quickie?), or that she has it back on her wrist (is she in a hurry?). Even if they just had a quickie, when someone looks at their watch it means they want you out of there, that time is a factor, which of course, is unromantic. Maybe she can glance at a clock in the room?

    Then there are words that sound apologetic, like “little”, “slightest” and “bit”, which of course are unromantic. “Cheap” must also go. Women have this thing about “worth”, if they believe that they gave in at a “cheap” hotel, then they themselves feel a little cheap, and if a woman feels cheap, drama will ensue. To this respect, a guess: if women readers consider Agent Righetti to have given in “cheaply”, they may not consider the scene hot or romantic. If in fact something happened in “not ideal circumstances” one has to work extra hard to work up the “overtaken by passion of the moment” element so as to make up for the setting. If Righetti feels all right with what’s happened, she won’t factor in the “cheapness” of the environment. On a similar line, it would be contradictory for to think something like, “to cheap a place to have dinner but ok to have sex in”. Maybe it’s not the Fouquet’s Barriere , it’s a hotel the bureau is paying for, but it may be better left to the reader to figure out exactly how frugal the government is.

    The allusion to Garret also breaks the “reading romance”, maybe she can think of this later on? At least until Winston’s left and she’s reflecting on the incident?

    The armpit sniffing is guy humor. Again, it’s only me I can speak for, but I’ve found any reference to natural body odor, especially in American and Canadian women, will launch a spiral of paranoid self consciousness which might put off some female readers; “aftershave and detergent punctuated by a little of his musk”, is good though, it let’s us understand what kind of guy he is.

    “Most of it appears to be returning from other areas of her body.” What would be the alternative anatomical regions of return if not her own body?

    “Either that or he’s been unable to maintain enough blood flow for both his heads”. Gives the impression he’s about to walk into the hall with an erection, which apart from other things, gives the impression he was not sexually satisfied with the encounter. It is better, I believe, when women have the impression the no matter how brief the encounter was, the man remains with the sensation of having just felt a little of Nirvana with her.

    Lastly, to better capture the essence of a romantic encounter from a female point of view, I think you could consider making Winston more assertive, more self assured, reaffirmed by the encounter, with some of the pride and satisfaction that fill you after you’ve made love to a beautiful and truly sensual woman.

    With honesty and modesty: I like both characters, I’d root for them in a plight, I can relate to them, and I’ve a short movie of the incident playing in my head while I write this.

    Writing convincing romantic scenes is beyond my capacity or courage, I am grateful for your patience and tolerance regarding my comment.

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