Monday, January 31, 2011

Why love scenes get the rewrite treatment

I'm a big outliner, see. I know in advance what all my scenes are and where they're going. Where to start and when to stop. What has to happen in terms of plot and subplot and character arc. Call me neurotic, but it's how I stay sane.

So that's why I don't do out-takes or deleted scenes on my website -- because there aren't any. Well, there were a couple for POISON KISSED, because (ahem) my editor had me cut a subplot or ten. But I changed the plot to make it fit, so the deleted material is now redundant -- it no longer happened, and if you read it after reading PK, you'd go, 'huh? didn't that guy die?' etc..

I also rarely have to rewrite a scene. Sure, I edit the crap out of them. But I almost never cut and start again.

Except for love scenes. Curses. Not rocket science, huh -- the characters have sex, the end. But sometimes I get the tone of the scene wrong -- it's harsh instead of dreamy, or teary instead of breathless, or the wrong character initiates, or whatever. I (and they, hehe) get halfway through and it isn't working.

When the tone is wrong, the dialogue and the choreography will be wrong, which means the emotions you're eliciting will be off the mark. There's not much you can do except start again.

See, if your book is a romance and the characters don't do it until late in the book -- or if all the sex up until that point has been meaningless in terms of the love story, and this is the Love Scene as opposed to the hot sex scene/s -- it usually means they've been putting the Love Scene off, consciously or unconsciously. So emotionally, the Love Scene will be an acceptance or a surrender by one or both characters -- they admit that things have changed, and they can't go on in denial. And even though I outline up the wazoo, it's not always clear to me exactly who is surrendering what until I get there.

And if I don't get that right, the scene will fall flat. I've been setting up an emotional arc for all those chapters -- now's the time to finish it off. The sex can be as hot as you like, but if the emotional payoff isn't there in the Love Scene, no one will care.

So yeah. Let's just cut that thousand words and start it again, shall we?

1 comment:

  1. I hear you. I'm famous for putting "Add sex here" as a placeholder. Sex has to be just right if you're writing romance. I'd rather get the business end of things done, then go back and pour time and thought into bringing the right tone and figuring out what goes where. ;)