Episode 159: The Romance Episode

On September 4, 2021, Kasie and Rex welcome romance writer Catherine Peace into the studio to discuss the writing of intimate scenes. Here are the show notes:

Theme for the day(s)

Revisiting Lust: Romance Author Catherine Peace


  • SCWA Upcoming events and goings-on
  • The 7 Deadly Sins Lust reminder
  • Meet Catherine Peace
  • Romance genre expectations
  • How to write the steamy scenes
Photo by cottonbro on Pexels.com

Segment 1

SCWA invites you to the September Become an Author event featuring YA fantasy novelist Jill Criswell. Register here. This is a virtual event held at 7 p.m. on September 15th. The live event is free and open to the public, but the recording will only be available for SCWA members. Become a member here.

Also happening in September, the Back to School sprint for the Writing Conversations midday workshops. Led by Amber Wheeler Bacon, these sessions get back going on September 21 with the Freelance Writer’s Toolbox. Click here to register. Writing Conversations are at noon on Tuesdays and are free and open to the public; recordings are made available to members of SCWA. You need only register for one to receive the login information for future Writing Conversations events.

Become an Author and Writing Conversations are made possible by the generous support of SC Humanities through grant funding.

Welcome to the studio, Catherine Peace, romance author. Catherine Peace has been telling stories for as long as she could remember. She often blames two things for her forays into speculative fiction—Syfy (when it was SciFi) channel Sundays with her dad and The Island of Dr. Moreau by HG Wells. She graduated in 2008 from Northern Kentucky University with a degree in English and is still chasing the dream of being super rich and famous, mostly so she can sit around in her PJs all day and write stories. Catherine currently lives on a farm in South Carolina. E-I-E-I-O.

I (Kasie) of course jumped into This Time Next Year — a vampire romance — so let’s start there. How did you get started in paranormal romance? What’s the appeal?

Segment 2

Then there’s Complete Me, which is a contemporary romance. Let’s talk about that choice and some of the tropes associated with contemporary romance:

  • Enemies-to-lovers
  • Best friend’s sister
  • Billionaire boss (Catherine’s Rocking the CEO)
  • Rockstar romance
  • Professional athlete romance
  • Office / workplace romance
  • Second chance romance
  • Surprise baby
  • Fake relationship
  • Matchmaker (everything from bachelor auction to reality TV)

Is there a specific romance sub-genre you prefer?

  • Paranormal
  • Sweet (closed door)
  • Contemporary (above)
  • Historical
  • Sci Fi
  • Suspense / Thriller
  • Erotic
  • Christian or Inspirational

How should romance novels be evaluated — should their be a rating system of hotness / steaminess?

What romance genre podcasts or bloggers do you listen to or follow? Some popular ones:

  • Fated Mates with Sarah MacLean
  • Learning the Tropes with Erin Leafe and Clayton Gumbert
  • Heaving Bosoms with Erin and Melody
  • Smart Podcast, Trashy Books


  • Smart Bitches, Trashy Books. …
  • Aestas Book Blog -Romance book reviews. …
  • All About Romance | Romance Writing Blog. …
  • Natasha is a Book Junkie | Romance Book Reviews. …
  • JA Huss | New York Times BestSelling Author. …
  • Shameless Book Club | Book Recommendations You Crave. …
  • Roni Loren | Romance Novel Author.

Segment 3

Say it’s not a romance novel, but maybe a romantic subplot. We did this episode on that topic. 

  • When to include the romantic subplot
  • What we mean by “move the story forward”
  • Specific uses for the romantic subplot
  • Cliche traps the romantic subplot can fail into
  • Alternative endings for the romantic subplot

The romantic subplot may or may not have its fair share of steamy scenes. Think Wonder Woman when Diana and Steve close the door in the boarding house after dancing in the snow. Sigh.

When to include a steamy scene

  • Audience
  • Purpose
  • Vocabulary
  • Outcome(s)

How steamy is too steamy?

Should readers be warned the steamy is coming?

Seven clues you might get a sexy scene in this book:

  1. Profanity (adult vocabulary is a clue we’ll see other adult behavior)
  2. Drug or alcohol abuse (impaired judgment often ends up in sexual misconduct)
  3. Sexual attraction openly discussed or detailed in the narration
  4. Two (or more) characters need something to unify them (It — controversial “child orgy” scene)
  5. There’s a subtext of animalism, basic instincts, or natural status (A Streetcar Named Desire)
  6. There’s a subtext of puritanical, religious, or other oppressive culture that needs subverting
  7. There’s an authority that needs to be eroded or a trust that needs to be destroyed (think political sex scandal)

There’s this article on “hidden” sex scenes, so we know the literary tradition of hiding sex behind euphemisms and closed doors is old:

  • Nick Carraway has sex with a man in The Great Gatsby
  • Rochester, after proposing to Jane Eyre, asks her to “come to me entirely now” and the dialogue that follows is mutual assertions of satisfaction and comfort
  • Romeo and Juliet have their morning-after scene (“it was the nightingale…”)
  • Edna Pontellier in The Awakening gives us a life-changing kiss and an end-of-the-chapter

Why do the literary types think sex should be implied instead of detailed?

Is it that hard to write a realistic but sensual scene? How many authors fail?

Segment 4

Sharing, again, this resource about how to do this and some of the details you might want to consider when deciding whether to cut or include the erotic part of the story.

That link borrows heavily from this Diana Gabaldon (of Outlander) book.

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