Other Pages To See...

Thursday, February 12, 2009

Exaggerated Reactions

I was sitting here working on my manuscript when I suddenly realized I'd stopped writing and drifted into the ether. I was thinking about a particular scene and wondering if I'm getting enough sensuality into it. Since switching to romance, this has been one of the things I've had to work on.

Here's the thing. In romance, reactions have to be exaggerated, and that's where I sometimes go off track because I'm so engrossed in writing the "story." Each time the romantic hero and heroine are in the same room together, there should be some reaction from him or her, depending on whose point of view it's in. A look should leave her breathless. A touch should make her skin tingle with awareness. And that's the key word right there. Awareness. The awareness between the hero and heroine should always be present and their reactions exaggerated.

To achieve this exaggerated awareness, we have to incorporate all five senses: touch, sight, smell, taste, and hearing. And from that is where sensuality derives its meaning.

So, sometimes I'm writing away and suddenly remember I've forgotten to give each look, touch, or smell it's due. That's when I go back and start layering in those little exaggerated nuggets that you find only in romance. But all the time I'm wondering, how much is too much? I've read books that made me roll my eyes at the lengths some authors go to to give their characters these exaggerated reactions. It often crosses the line into the absurd, and I certainly don't want to go there with my own writing. And yet, this seems to be what publishers and readers want.

I realize I'm getting way out into the weeds with this, but I can't seem to get my thoughts in order today. What about you? Do you enjoy reading all those exaggerated reactions--all the breathless, heart-pounding touches and brushes--between the hero and heroine? Yes, much of this is necessary to achieve the romance, but do you think it's sometimes carried way overboard. I find the worst culprits to be historical romance, which is what I write. So, stuck to the front of my computer tower, I keep a post-it that says : "Remember the romance, Remember the sensuality." Is it just me?



  1. I find myself wondering about scenes and having to go back to them to see if I remembered to add the heady scent of her perfume, or how him without a shirt was a sight to behold, ripple-ripple, flex-flex of muscles, or the sexy mischievous grin, her kissable lips that tasted of honey the last time they met.

    I've been stumbling my way through my revisions today- hoping to find a break in scene that would allow for an extra scene- so far nada. Either that or my mind is still on vacation. I've added a few sight/sound/taste words and a paragraph or two, but like you, I feel like I've drifted off today.

  2. Taryn,

    Thanks for stopping in. I hope you made more progress than I did today. I finally got my act together late this afternoon, but by that time... supper, laundry, dishes... I just couldn't put them off any longer. It's been a gorgeous day, but strange somehow. Maybe tomorrow will start off better. :o)

  3. There are some authors who put in WAY too much reaction. I like more action. If I see paragraph after paragraph of words, with no breaks for dialogue or anything, I tend to skim.
    I always have to go back in and add more though, because I seem to drift from action to action, with not much in between.
    I guess I write like I read.

  4. Jennifer, I'm with you. I like some story in between all the sexual tension and love scenes. But I seem to be getting less and less "story" in the books I've bought lately. And this is what bothers me.

    Thanks for dropping by! :o)

  5. Devon:
    I agree that some writers seem to get stuck in a loop when adding this. And I'm following a discussion on Amazon that's been going on for months about readers most hated phrases. I have to tell you some of the sensory stuff is what they're pointing out. Quite a few have complained about the scent thing. He smelled like leather and sin was one that stuck in my mind. That and some of the phrases writers use for body parts. I've laughed out loud at some of the posts. But reading those comments has been very helpful.
    It's so very important for the hero and heroine to connect on a physical level waaaay before they make love. And I'm constantly looking for ways to show this without using any of those phrases that loop has posted. (from the sound of it, I'm probably pretty safe).
    I think the most important thing is to try and be as fresh with the descriptions as possible. Let the reactions be inherently the character's. And make it as much a moment of suspense, as you can. Because isn't that what the first moment of falling in love is? Suspense.

    Great topic for a Valentine's day blog!
    Write on,
    Teresa Reasor

  6. Hi Teresa! Thanks for stopping by!

    Since the Amazon posts are straight from the readers' mouths, I hope you're keeping a list of all the dreaded phrases.

    I did a post sometime last year about a thread on that forum. They sometimes come up with some very interesting stuff. The one I blogged about was the fact that they didn't want to see any more heroines with blue, amber, green-- or any shade between-- eyes. They wanted brown. Ditto with the hair. No blondes, or redheads, etc. They wanted brown hair. LOL! They were also sick of heroines with impossibly perfect bodies and melon-sized breasts. It ended up with very little choice left for an author. In order to satisfy that particular group of readers, we would all be writing about the drab house-frau next door, or maybe ourselves as the heroines. :o)


Welcome to Romance in the Wild West! I love to hear from you so feel free to leave me a comment.