Fight Scenes Vs. Sex Scenes

(image credit: KellBailey)

As any romance reader knows, there’s nothing gratuitous about the sex scenes in a good romance novel. These scenes are certainly meant to engage—but more importantly, they’re about character development, conflict, plot furthering, and resolutions. They add depth and color to a medium that has to convey all five senses, using only words. Just like the rest of the story.

If you’ve never read romance (or if you’ve somehow been unlucky enough to only read a few bad ones, and then dismiss the entire genre), it’s easy to make the mistake of believing that sex scenes are there because “sex sells.” This is categorically untrue for most romance writers. They write stories first, which also contain sex.

That’s how I’ve approached the House Phoenix series. They’re stories first, and they also contain fights.

Just as sex is integral to an adult relationship, fighting is integral to the underground world of my stories. I approached writing my fight scenes with the same basic principles that romance writers apply to sex scenes. I asked myself the same questions: does this fight need to be shown, or can it just be mentioned? How does this fight add to the story? What does it show about the character(s) involved?

And most importantly: How much sensory detail needs to be included to convey what’s important in the scene?

Writers can’t use imagery, sounds, or sensory input to bring a scene to life. We work with words on a page, and deciding which senses to invoke in a particular scene is an important part of telling the story the way we’d like readers to see it. For Broken Angel, I wanted people to feel what Gabriel felt (though not to the same degree, or no one would ever read the other books in the series). To taste the pain and feel the conflicting emotions.

Some romance readers skim or skip over the sex scenes, because they’re not really interested in all the dirty details – but they still enjoy the story. Can you skip over the fight scenes in the House Phoenix series and end up with a story that you can enjoy? Sure you can. The books are about the characters and their journeys above everything else.

But the fight scenes really heat things up.

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Categories: Uncategorized | Tags: , , , , | 5 Comments

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5 thoughts on “Fight Scenes Vs. Sex Scenes

  1. Nice comparison. I don’t want to watch two guys beating the crap out of each other, but without any fight scenes at all, something important would be missing from House Phoenix. The characters’ lives center around fighting, so it has to be shown. On the other hand, I don’t read romance because it’s a topic I can’t relate to in any way, which makes me a pretty atypical female. It wouldn’t matter to me whether the sex scenes were hot, mild, or didn’t exist at all. I understand males better than I do females, and the violence is one of the characteristics that makes them interesting. In many ways, males are more complex than the average female, so there’s more room for character development. Much thanks for getting me on this train of thought. I think I just explained to myself why I rarely have any females in my fiction.

  2. Hmm, now you’ve got me thinking! I don’t write many females either. But growing up — and even now — most of my friends are guys, so I guess I just know more about them. 🙂

  3. Can’t say I ever had very many friends, but the guys were always more interesting. I never did get the whole “discuss poopy diapers, exchange recipes, try on makeup” thing. When I was a young married, mixed couples get-togethers were always uncomfortable. Women here, men there. Thank goodness, it didn’t happen often. Anyway, thanks to your post, I started writing what might turn out to be an essay or blog post eventually, trying to dissect some of our ideas about what’s masculine and what’s feminine.

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