We’re delighted to host this guest post by Sarah Echavarre Smith, author of On Location.

The thought of writing a love scene sends many authors running for the hills. But love scenes are my favorite scenes to write. It’s a chance for two characters who have spent a good chunk of the story pining for each other and/or fighting and/or bantering to FINALLY get together and show just how much they’re meant to be between the sheets in addition to outside of the bedroom. So, how exactly do you write a compelling love scene? Here are three rules I live and die by when I write steam in my books.

1. Don’t skimp on the foreplay

Just like in real life, it’s important for characters to build up to the sex/intercourse. Sex won’t feel believable to readers if the characters don’t warm up enough or the female main character orgasms at the drop of a hat (sure, this isn’t impossible, but I’d wager that’s not as common as most of us wish it were unfortunately *sad emoji*)

Keep things believable and hot with a lot of foreplay. Start off with neck kisses, a hot makeout, heavy petting, mind-blowing oral, anything to show that your characters are in the mood for satisfying sex. Writing good foreplay will also help readers feel more invested in the story because they’ll actually believe your characters are hot for each other.

And remember: foreplay isn’t just physical. It’s also stuff like naughty texting or dirty talking or a sexy look exchanged in a crowded room. Anything to amp up the heat of the moment and convey that these two characters are fiery hot for one another and dying to get it on.

2. Lay it on thick…with emotion!

The romance genre deals with big emotions: honestly, vulnerability, love, hurt, anger, forgiveness, just to name a few. It makes sense why it’s important to incorporate that into love scenes as well.

Having your characters express how they’re feeling while they’re being physically intimate with one another marks a huge step in the narrative. It shows them being physically and emotionally vulnerable at the same time. And it often represents a huge moment in the plot. This is when they finally give in to their attraction and have mutually acknowledged that it’s on. They’re taking their relationship to a whole new level with this act of physical intimacy, and it feels all the more special when they’re able to voice their emotional connection with each other in this moment too.

So whether the characters are confessing their love or admitting that they really, really like each other or that they been fantasizing about this hot moment for ages and are super pumped that it’s finally happening, they all serve the same purpose: they’re being open and honest with one another by talking about their feelings, and that heightens the intimacy of the physical act of sex.

3. Always establish consent.

I’m of the opinion that when you write sex, you should always, always, ALWAYS establish enthusiastic consent. By the time my characters are ready to sleep together, it’s crystal clear that they’re both eager and ready.

And it doesn’t have to be some awkward conversation. Consent can be crazy hot. For example, here’s an exchange between the two main characters in my new romance On Location that establishes consent right before things start to get dirty:

My hand stills against Drew’s stomach. “So…you like the way I’m touching you right now?”

He grunts another yes.

Slowly, I run my hand up his stomach, relishing the way each hard line feels under my palm. I stop on his chest, just over his heart, which is thundering inside of him. A quiet pant falls from his mouth.

He swallows. “You can do whatever you want to my body, Alia. Asleep, awake. Any time, any place. You have my permission.”

I tilt my head up, until our faces are barely inches apart. “I’m so attracted to you, Drew. Like, you have no idea.”

His half-smile turns full. It’s so bright it cuts through the darkness.

“It’s been a struggle not to drool over you while we’re shooting.” I tap my fingers against his chest, quietly delighting in the way his hard mass barely budges.

“It’s been the same for me. You’re beautiful, Alia. Every time I look at you, I feel like a creep because I can’t stop staring. I still can’t believe we ended up here.”

My heart melts in my chest. Whatever blip in the universe that resulted in us seeing each other again, I’m thankful for it.

He cups my cheeks with his hand. Closing my eyes, I hum.

“I’ve been trying not hardest not to pull you aside so we can finish that kiss we started that night we met.”

“We can finish it now.”

See? Super cute and very sexy conversation about consent. And not one bit clinical. It’s clear Alia and Drew have the hots for each other and are aching to go to town on one another.

Sarah Echavarre Smith is a copywriter-turned-author who wants to make the world a lovelier place, one kissing story at a time. When she’s not writing, you can find her hiking, eating chocolate and perfecting her lumpia recipe. She is the author of Faker, Simmer Down, and On Location.