Monday, August 31, 2009

Isn't it romantic?

For the last month or so, I've been furiously editing (actually, rewriting) my fourth book. Let me tell you, it's been an experience (more on that Wednesday). I'm so close to the end I can almost taste it, but I've developed a palate for fine-tuning that is insatiable. I think I could tweak this book until the second coming. And then I'd probably ask the heavenly host to wait a sec' while I change just one more thing...

Anyway, as this book is sort of a love story, one of the things I've been working on is my (for lack of a better term) romantic scenes--no, not sex scenes, just romantic ones. Turns out, I wasn't cut out for the Harlequin crowd. It's been a struggle for me to make my love scenes authentic, captivating, and ah-inducing. Never heard that last term? You still know what I mean. It's that breathless sigh that escapes in the middle of a deliciously sweet romantic moment even though you try like mad to act unmoved. Anyone who has ever loved should know how to navigate those scenes, right? Believe it or not, they're HARD to write!!! I'm pulling my hair out here, and it's not for lack of experience to draw on. ;) My hubby is a romantic man.

Part of the problem is, in addition to writing a great scene, I think you also need to write an original scene... And that's not easy to do. What typically happens is the lovers touch, they almost kiss, they drink in the scent of each other's hair, and blah, blah, blah. It's all been done a million times. How do you write a romantic scene that doesn't dissolve into cliche? Personally, I believe it's the unexpected that's swoon-worthy.

Like my all-time favorite, go down in the history books, rewind a dozen times to watch again and again shower scene from Daniel Craig's version of Casino Royale. Have you seen it? If so, sigh with me. Ahhhh. If not, why are you not in your car running to the nearest video store? "Because I have Netflix" is no excuse. You can't wait for something like this to be delivered in the mail. It is, in my humble opinion, the hands down most sexy/romantic/breathtaking movie scene ever. It's completely chaste but incredibly tense, full of compassion but somehow it manages to be hot, too. He does, after all, suck her fingers.

Alas, I'm sad to say that although I love Casino Royale for many other reasons, that one infamous scene is the height of of romance for this movie. It's all downhill from there. When Bond and Vesper finally hook up, she says one of my favorite worst lines ever: "You can have me anywhere. Here. There. Anywhere." I always want to add: "You can have me in a box. You can have me with some socks. You can have me here or there. You can have me anywhere. I do so like green eggs and ham. I like them, like them, Sam I am." I crack up every time. But that's okay. The shower scene covers a multitude of sins.

At any rate, I have a question for you today. As I rewrite my fourth book, I'm wondering: What makes an awesome love scene? I've told you what I think, but I want to hear your perspective. Please share! I'm looking for a great idea to rip off. Gasp! Did I just write that? I mean, I'm looking for inspiration. ;)


  1. I have read a lot of books (really...a LOT of books) and have seen a lot of movies but I can honestly say that NOTHING was better than the night that my husband came home from a 2 week stint in Brazil. I don't mean this to be TMI-ing anyone (ha ha) but I just remember praying that I would never forget even a second of it.
    It was the fact that his eyes literally devoured me while they cried, the strength of his arms as they held me, the joy in his voice when he repeatedly whispered "Wow" into my neck as we stood in an airport, seemingly never going to let go...
    I am a huge sucker for love stories...Drew Barrymore is my fave...but I think that that moment will be forever my favorite. It was spontaneous (as he didn't know I would be there), it was unashamed (as 10 members of our church were standing nearby watching) and it was wonderful (as it left us both in tears). I posted pics of it on my blog ( ) as a member of our congregation was on hand with a camera.
    Don't know if that was what you wanted...but there ya go!! :)

  2. Thanks for sharing, Bina. Your pictures say everything. Blessings to you in your marriage. :)

  3. Cary Grant! Any romantic scene with Cary Grant works for me.

  4. I've never seen that movie! But now I really want to go rent it. I sense a Friday night date with hubby in the making.

    One of my all time favorite love scenes is in Love Actuallly when Colin Firth proposes to the girl (can't spell her name) and the subtitles are in broken English. So funny and sweet. :)

    Another one that made me swoon is in the move, The Notebook, when Noah and Alli get stuck in the rain on the boat and end up...ahem...well, it's not chaste. But it's incredibly passionate.

    I guess I like passion. And I think passion can be done in a God-honoring way. Afterall, who loves more passionately than God?

  5. Okay, cracking me up with Dr. Seuss! He really is the best Bond, if you ask me. I recently posted my favorite commercial I find to be quite romantic (the Levi's one)...hope you can find it and see what I mean.
    ~ Wendy

  6. Brittaney, I'm shamed to admit that I have... (wait for it)... never seen a Cary Grant movie. I know, I know. Which one would you recommend for a Grant virgin? (Sorry, considering the topic I couldn't resist the innuendo.)

    Katie, I LOVE that scene. "Just in cases." I melt every time. I also love the scene with Keira Knightly when her husband's best friend says goodbye to her. Not an easy situation, but they handle it very well.

    Wendy, he is the best Bond. I grew up on Bond and Craig's my favorite because he actually has some depth. The others were little more than a stereotype. And thanks for pointing me in the direction of the Levi's commercial!

  7. Yes! "Just in cases." Now I feel like watching it again. And when the guy (can't think of name) has the posters with the fake caroling music...I agree, so sweet.

  8. I am by no means an expert on romance for two reasons:
    1. I dislike romance novels.
    2. My husband doesn't have a romantic bone in his body. What you see is that you get.

    I do find that when a love scene does present itself in a book that I am reading the ones that really speak to me are the ones that are intense emotionally but they hold back physically. I wish I had a good example, but I can't think of one right off my hand. Like I said, I am definitely not an expert.

  9. I just watched Casino Royale last night! (Bond movie marathon on TV). I've seen it a few times and I concur with you on the shower scene. Very romantic. My other favorite part is towards the end where Vesper tells Bond that if all that was left of him was his little finger and his smile he'd still be the greatest man ever...and he responds with "That's because you know what I can do with my little finger." A little risque, but hilarious.

    If you like Bond movies you might want to try a film called "Charade" which stars Cary Grant and Audrey Hepburn. He's very swoony in that, plus there's a lot of intrigue and action. One of my favorites! Audrey gets one of my fave movie lines ever: "Do you know what's wrong with you? ("No, what?") Nothing." Ahh, I think that's romantic. :) Fun topic today!


  10. I think a lot of the best love stories/scenes have less to do with words (I know this doesn't help with your writing :)) but more so with how the person looks--the facial expressions. When you can actually SEE the love between two people; a glance across a room, a wink, a longing, etc., it speaks so much more than words. I think of Pride and Prejudice (the BBC version)--of course there were many words between Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy, but the expressions spoke so much more loudly than any script.

  11. Heather, I never liked romance novels either. Too cheesy. I usually end up laughing at the things that are supposed to make me weak in the knees. But I think my definition of romance is a little different from the norm... I think really *knowing* someone is romantic--reaching them at the point of their need. It's very intimate, very meaningful. (Like the shower scene.) And I'm with you--less is more.

    Brandi, thanks for the recommendation! I'll be looking for "Charade" on Netflix. As for the line you quoted... Yes, I love it. ;)

    Sarah, the BBC version of "Pride & Prejudice" is the only version as far as I'm concerned! And you're right, it's all about non-verbal cues. Writing that isn't always easy, but I hope I have a couple of great scenes in this book! I sure am trying...

  12. I've never seen the new James Bond movies, but I absolutely loathe how Hollywood sexes up the silver screen. It actually turns me away from movies that I had preconceived ideas about being good. Like Twilight for instance, there were a lot of subtle ways Catherine Hardwicke sexed up the movie that were definitely not present in the book. It irked me. Like, really bad. :(

  13. Movies (and TV these days) can be so trashy. And, sadly, it's pretty easy to get immune to it. During family movie night when I was a kid, my parents used to warn us about (very mildly!) romantic scenes by yelling: "Kiss alert!" My brother and I would hide under the blanket because it was so gross... And I'm talking about a mom and dad, "Cheaper By the Dozen," chaste smooch before work. Nowadays, even family movies are sexed up. My kids love Madagascar II, but there's a scene where one of the hippos is singing a song... "I like 'em big, I like 'em chunky..." It's totally sexualized.

    And yet, our sexuality is a part of us. I'm not sure I'd understand a movie where the hero isn't attracted to his heroine--beyond, "isn't she a sweetheart." I think it would be false to pretend that we're not sexual beings. But what's the line? Where is it crossed? I honestly don't know.

    Thanks for bringing up such an important topic, Lauren.

  14. Favorite romantic scenes:

    1. (An oldie) Magnum P.I. finds the wife he thought was dead, rescues her from bullets flying in Waikiki and brings her home, carries her to his bed and kneels down on the floor beside her. The look at her is to die for. Not even a kiss in the scene. Wow. And phew!

    2. The love scene in "Benny and Joon" between Johnny Depp and Mary Stuart Masterson. The song that plays, the tentative kiss, it's all there (except marriage of course). But it's a beautiful scene.

    Best writers of romantic scenes: Kristen Heitzmann in Secrets and the second in the series Unforgotten. Wonderfully done. Passionate but subtle. Awesome.

    Me. Okay. Sorry. But I do love well-done romance, written with all the looks, innuendoes, the subtle elements, the full passion without grahpics. Too cool. But the novel must contain depth and little or no fluff.

    Karen Ball did a fabulous job in The Breaking Point.

    Don Brown and Harry Kraus do a superb job of romance in their writings. As did James Scott Bell in his most recent series with Ty Buchanan. Subtle but powerful.