Writing “clean” romance”
Writing a sweet romance (which I prefer to the word clean, since the opposite is “dirty”) requires a few tricks up the writerly sleeve. One is to make sure that the pivotal points like the first kiss or first declaration of love don’t progress any further than the reader would want. That sounds easier than it is, especially if the characters haven’t made any broad statements about avoiding sex. (If they have, great. That makes it a lot easier. A virginal bookworm who doesn’t believe in premarital sex isn’t going to hop into bed with the hero as soon as he declares his everlasting love. But most of the time, the main character is more focused on other points of the story than when and how she’ll consummate that love.)
So, to keep those scenes off the page, I usually have the first kiss happen at the same time as another really dramatic moment. If our hero and heroine declare their love within five feet of a bed, it would be really odd if they suddenly shook hands and said good night. The reader expects a smoother transition than that. It just wouldn’t be natural!
If the first kiss happens at the same time the hero and heroine are chasing down an assassin (actually chasing him down at full speed), then the reader won’t expect them to drop everything and roll into the bushes together. Not consummating that relationship seems natural. Of course, I haven’t written any thrillers so I usually use natural disasters or an urgent call for help, but you get the idea.
I love writing sweet romance because I can tell the love story as deeply as I want, but don’t have to worry about writing a bedroom scene. It’s something I don’t think I would do very well, anyway! I’ve had some negative reviews that complained about the lack of sex, but I think sweet romance reaches a group of readers who want the romance without reading a sex scene on the page.
That said, I’ve had negative reviews for my “Pg-13/ R rated” scenes, too, even though I thought they were merely “tastefully hot”. But each reader is comfortable with a certain level of onscreen intimacy and I just try to walk that fine line between spelling it all out and leaving something to the imagination.
One thing my books don’t skimp on is romance! Without romance, it wouldn’t matter whether there was sex or not. It would just be boring. So, for me, the romance is absolutely key to the story, and if I get that right, everything else is the icing on the cake.
At eighteen, Daisy McConnell left Liberty, Colorado and never looked back. The only bright spot in a childhood of neglect and loneliness was the town librarian, Marie. Now settled as a teacher in sunny Fresno, Daisy does her best to forget everything about Liberty including her drunk father, her MIA mother, and the town she hated with every beat of her heart.
Lane Bennett’s life as a small town cop is pretty close to perfect. He’s got his dog, a pretty date when he needs one, and plenty of time to fish on the weekends. No other place can compare to his hometown and he’s happy to devote his life to keeping the folks of Liberty safe. When Marie passes away, Lane knows one of the best parts about living in Liberty is gone, along with the old Carnegie library. It needs repairs the city can’t afford and the city managers won’t pay the new flood insurance. It’s too bad, but safety comes first.
When Daisy comes home for Marie’s funeral and hears the only safe place she knew as a child is going to close, she refuses to let it happen. She hatches a plan to save the old library, run the summer reading program, and keep Marie’s legacy alive.
She once vowed never to come home and he’s vowed never to leave. Daisy and Lane discover together that true love happens when you least expect it and you should never say never in Liberty.
Virginia was born near the Rocky Mountains and although she has traveled around the world, the wilds of Colorado run in her veins. A big fan of the wide open sky and all four seasons, she believes in embracing the small moments of everyday life. A home schooling mom of six young children who rarely wear shoes, those moments usually involve a lot of noise, a lot of mess, or a whole bunch of warm cookies. Virginia holds degrees in Linguistics and Religious Studies from the University of Oregon. She lives with her habanero-eating husband, Crusberto, who is her polar opposite in all things except faith. They’ve learned to speak in short-hand code and look forward to the day they can actually finish a sentence. In the meantime, Virginia thanks God for the laughter and abundance of hugs that fill her day as she plots her next book.
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