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Question about romance scene

Discussion in 'Writing Discussions' started by MiaC, Apr 29, 2021.

  1. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    Hello, I'm writing a fantasy novel. Main characters are 16 years old. I have a question about romance scenes. I'm writing a kissing scene with one of my 16 year olds and I'm wondering if it's appropriate to go into detail about how she's feeling, like getting aroused in detail or is that too far for the age? Or should I keep it more simple?
     
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  2. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I think, if your intended audience is 16+ in age, that would be fine.

    If your intended audience is young, say about 14 and below, then no.

    The actual age line on the lower end is murky for me personally. 13 and below?

    Main point would be reader age, not character age, for a 16 year old character.
     
  3. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    Young adult. Yeah, like 16 and over. Thanks for the reply.
     
  4. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    YA novels with 16-year-old protagonists are most read by younger teens and preteens. Actual sixteen-year-olds are graduating to adult books. If you're intending this to be a YA novel, expect your audience to be a little younger than the characters, and write accordingly.

    A book with 16-year-old characters could also be an adult novel, but in that case, it's usually a story told in flashback, or a life story that starts when the protagonist is a teenager and takes them a decade or a few into their adulthood. The audience is expected to see it from an adult perspective.

    That said, if you're writing for the younger end of that scale, it's not necessarily inappropriate to mention the character's feelings, but keep it tasteful. There are plenty of ways to get it across that a character is experiencing sexual feelings without making it sound like a dirty joke. For that matter, if your intended audience is older, you still want to keep it tasteful.
     
  5. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    Thanks, I get what you're saying :)
     
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  6. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Here's an example from a wip of mine. The characters in this scene are about 16, in fact. For context, they're both apprentices, but not to the same person. They've fallen in love, they've been spending all their days off together for the last couple of months, and everyone knows it. The guy's employer has sent him to the girl's employer to deliver something (they do business together). The apprentices meet, there's some dialog with a bit of flirtatious banter. I'm leaving out proprietary details like the characters' names and the work they're discussing, but here are the lines that I think bring out her feelings the most (the story is told from the girl's point of view):

    He gave her a mischievous side glance that made her melt.

    A few lines of dialog later...

    She couldn’t stand being so close without pulling him to her and kissing him. So she did.

    Then her employer appears and the business is conducted. Her employer tells her to go to the garden and gather some herbs, and feel free to take your time seeing the young man out. So....

    She took his hand and led him there [to the garden], but what followed immediately upon that was not herb gathering.

    The next scene opens with her employer making a tart remark about how much time she took seeing him out. (Both employers know what's going on between their apprentices, and neither objects, but they rib them about it a little.)
     
  7. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    Rosemary TeaRosemary Tea

    Well that's all very fine for some stories. In fact, most of the stories I happen to read—not all—don't become very explicit in their sex scenes, and I'm fine with that. A simple kissing scene would be even less explicit, as least concerning body parts and thoughts. I'm talking mostly adult novels, btw. I've read some with more explicit descriptions of events, and I'm fine with that as well, but these are never really a requirement for me. I guess my own imagination is pretty darn good when I'm reading, heh.

    But...as a guy who was once a teen, a 16-year-old, I'm thinking that a little more directness concerning the effects of a passionate kiss might be in order sometimes. Again, not always. Obviously, racing hearts, spinning heads, shortness of breath, and that sort of thing will be fine in almost every circumstance regardless of the age of the reader.* But other physical reactions and thoughts—that's where more consideration might be required.

    *Edit: To a point. Obviously, not for very young children probably.

    Edit #2: Sorry if my comment came off too critical? The example you gave is very close to what I've grown accustomed to reading a lot in the novels I pick up and enjoy, so it gets a thumbs up from me even if I've also encountered other approaches. I suppose at this point I should admit my YA reading is not as wide as it could be so I should provide this caveat to all my comments in this thread, heh.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
  8. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    I find those things too cliche. Perhaps because that's not my reaction to passionate kissing. I tend to experience that as more of a... I guess I would say a whole body feeling. Which is, perhaps, why I tend to focus on the character's emotional reaction, and let the reader fill in the rest.

    I imagine her reacting the way I would, emotionally and physically. Reading over that scene I just wrote, I find it hot, although it isn't detailed at all. I see her eagerly anticipating the next time they can have enough privacy to do more than kiss. (They already have, but they're not going to get down to that in the garden, it isn't private enough.)
     
  9. FifthView

    FifthView Istar

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    I'm supposing different people experience different encounters differently? :alien:

    Although, the type of scene, type of kissing, story context, and so forth, will make a huge difference, so trying to prescribe or proscribe any single approach is probably futile, except in the most extreme cases.
     
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  10. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Exactly.
     
  11. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    What would be the point otherwise?

    Here's the kiss scene from my Ladybug fanfic. They are underage, so this is just about as sexy as the story is going to get. But still, it's a first kiss, and I think it should feel like one.

    ~~edit~~

    I want to add something important. More than anything right now, more than a question of "how sexy are they getting?" or whatever, what people really want to see in a healthy romance is a moment of clear, unquestionable consent, a "yes" that happens right before the kiss. The implied, they both clearly want it thing isn't good enough anymore. The clear "yes" moment is what people are looking for.
     
    Last edited: Apr 29, 2021
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  12. Steerpike

    Steerpike Felis amatus Moderator

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    To some extent this is a matter of what tone you're striking in the book and what you feel work. I've read YA novels involving teen characters that involve sex, sometimes with some adult-sounding talk about it by the characters. It's not like you have to leave that subject matter out of YA fiction. I would not recommend getting explicit about the depictions, but sex and sexuality are (to varying degrees depending on the individual) a normal part of the lives of teenagers.
     
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  13. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    This. Many times this.

    In my example, I didn't include that because the scene I shared takes place well after the initial "yes" moment. They've already built a solid foundation and some good walls in their consent castle. They now both know that if one of them initiates a kiss and the other responds in kind, that's a yes. But when they first started, sure, they had to check in.
     
  14. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    I had to edit this, and it still may not be perfect but this is the scene in referring to.


    Alyssa had left the dance floor, sweat was starting to gather on her forehead and the back of her neck. She was fanning herself with her hand when she saw John smiling in her direction again, she smiled bashfully then looked away. He was now sitting at one of the tables in the seating area with 3 other guys. Luke had been sitting at the table the whole time, he had realized Alyssa really wasn't interested in him after watching her on the dance floor and the continuous eye contact she had been making with John. So he decided to talk with Danny, a friend from class the whole time, who was also there without a date.
    As John continued to gaze at Alyssa from afar, she started to get extremely bothered, not because she didn't enjoy it but because she did.

    "I'm gonna go to the bathroom."

    She said as she stood up and took another big gulp of the blood punch then quickly made her way out the back door of the event room, to avoid going through the haunted house. The backdoor led outside, to a nice grassy area with many seating areas. There were a few students out there but not many. The crisp air felt refreshing on Alyssa's bare skin after being inside dancing for that long. The moon shone beautifully above through the thin clouds that covered the sky. Alyssa knew there was a bathroom inside the enclosed pool room. She made her way around the long brick wall to her right then opened the large glass doors to the pool area and walked in. It was completely silent and very dim, the only light was from the covered lamp inside the pool. She made her way to the bathroom then went to the sink. She took off her face veil, set it on the marble sink then splashed some water on her face. As she dried her face, John's near perfect body flashed through her mind, she softly bit her lip. She knew she shouldn't be entertaining the thought of John but she couldn't help it, the way he was gazing at her was driving her crazy. She stared at herself in the mirror for a moment. Her reflection appeared slightly animated and more vibrant, almost like she was in a dream. She knew she had definitely drank enough now. Her hair was a bit messy from dancing. She ran her fingers through her hair, though it didn't make much of a difference. She shrugged, picked up her face veil then made her way out of the bathroom. As she walked out of the bathroom, someone was standing, right in front of the large glass doors, dressed as the grim reaper that had been at the entrance of the haunted house. In a long black hooded robe with a chilling white face mask.
    They slowly began walking towards her.

    Worry washed through her as the person drew closer to her, she slowly backed up till she hit the brick wall behind her. The large person stood right in front of her for a moment, silently. She stared up into the black empty eyes of the mask, her heart was beating out of her chest. Then she felt a hand slide gently across the small of her exposed back.

    She then realized who was behind the mask, it was John. She remembered what he had been wearing in the event room, he just didn't have the hood and mask on.

    She closed her eyes as her breath became heavy then she felt his hand slide smoothly across her neck.
    She opened her eyes, he had taken off the mask. His handsome chiseled facial features appeared more defined through the dim lighting of the room. His dark blue eyes gazed at her, passionately.

    She closed her eyes again, breathing heavily, hoping he'd kiss her.

    "How long are we going to keep this up?" He asked, quietly as he gently caressed the back of her neck, sending chills throughout her body. "Is it wrong that I want you Alyssa?" He whispered, calmly, his mouth right next to Alyssa's ear.
    Her eyes flickered to the back of her head as she felt his warm breath touch her ear, every tiny hair on her neck stood up.

    She slowly opened her eyes, he was inches away from her face, intently gazing into her eyes. She remained silent and stared at him as he slowly ran his fingers down a lock of her hair. She couldn't take it anymore.

    "I don't care if it's wrong."

    She said, grabbing him by his waist and pulling him into her. Her soft lips met with his. He passionately caressed her lips with his tongue then she slightly opened her mouth and put her hand around the back of his head and her tongue met with his, sliding together effortlessly. She had never been kissed like this by anyone, she wanted him more and more by every soft touch. but then suddenly he stopped and stared at her.
     
  15. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    Reads like a romance novel. Is he going to rip her bodice next? ;)

    I don't think there's anything wrong with writing this for teenagers. It works just fine as a teen romance fantasy.

    But see DevorDevor 's post about consent. That is something I'd watch out for. This scene doesn't include any checking in and getting consent. In fact, it's a little bit rapey at first: Alyssa is afraid and trying to get away until she realizes it's John. That's not a good way for him to approach her. For one thing, he's scaring her, and needlessly. For another, for all he knows, she might be shrinking away because she knows it's him and she doesn't want him to approach her. He needs to communicate with her here. He shouldn't approach her without letting her know it's him, and he absolutely shouldn't corner her without making sure that she's okay with that.

    And she needs to communicate with him. That she wishes he'll kiss her and he apparently reads her mind and does just that is a common romantic fantasy, but in reality, nobody's a mind reader, especially when it comes to matters like this. It wouldn't be safe for him to kiss her without being reasonably certain that's what she wants. And if she really wants to kiss him, what's wrong with her making the overture?

    Alter it a little to include the consent, and you have a fine scene.
     
  16. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    It was different at first but I kinda like the mystery of it. I didn't think of it being rapey lol but now that you mention it, yeah I guess it kinda is. Lol. I was thinking it was kinda weird, like if i liked it or not so I'll make some changes.
     
  17. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    At the end though, she's the one that kisses him. Earlier in the book, it's obvious they both are interested in each other but its kinda forbidden. For different reasons. But ive made it obvious both of them know they do like each other. So I don't think he'd think she would try to get away because she knows it him. He knows she's interested in him and vise versa. But the hiding himself at first is kinda questionable and will probably change that
     
  18. Rosemary Tea

    Rosemary Tea Sage

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    How have they established that they like each other? Conversation? Longing looks? Something in between?

    Are they already hugging friends but not kissing friends? If it's something like that, it would feel more natural to progress to kissing. That would be a small step up, not an instant starting the whole thing from scratch.
     
  19. MiaC

    MiaC Dreamer

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    Looks, body language, the way they talk to each other. I've never written anything before and kinda just started this out of nowhere so I'm new lol but trying. I'm not sure how I'm going to change it yet, have to think about it but IYO is the writing okay? Structure, easy to follow, intriguing? Lol trying to get some critique. This is pretty far in the book too, chapter 15.
     
  20. Devor

    Devor Fiery Keeper of the Hat Moderator

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    The thing is, even if in your story for whatever reason both characters can tell that the kiss is welcome, the idea is that you’re setting an example for the teens and preteens reading it that *they* too can *just tell* with their own relationships. We want to encourage healthy relationships where consent is more important than the lusty spontaneous sex appeal.
     
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