Heavy Breathing in Fiction–Not So Easy

My son hates Feb. 14th because he currently does not have a girlfriend. As in, HE’S AVAILABLE, GIRLS!!! In honor of my son’s “worst holiday ever,” St. Valentine’s Day, perhaps a rant about writing romance is in order.
As I’m learning, romance writing isn’t the puff pastry it’s made out to be. Especially in Inspirational Romance, there are only so many ways a writer can describe longing looks, gazes, stares or eye locks. That’s why anybody who wants to write a good romance had better listen up. Honestly, I don’t know why they even publish x-rated erotic romances. The ones with no graphic or phallic detail left out. Everyone who’s ever been in love knows it’s the stuff we all do before and after that counts.
I can’t stop cackling if I read about “pearly nodes,” “thrumming thighs” or that a man’s eyes “were the color of motor oil after a trip through Oil Can Henry’s.”
And anything that gets down to say, ahem, the nitty-gritty just gags me and then makes me feel way too guilty. Like I KNOW I’m not supposed to be a peeping Tom (or Tomasina) but I feel as if I’ve just stood in the corner of some flea-bag motel room and videoed stuff I shouldn’t be looking at. And to make it worse, there was some stuff that I didn’t know about before and now wish I didn’t. Cover my eyes and hush my mouth.
As a writer who’s always made fun of writers who crank out Harlequin novels, I stand here ashamed and corrected. It is so difficult to write a terrific scene with sexual tension but no details. And equally difficult (notice I’m avoiding a certain synonym beginning with “h?”) is writing the afterglow, which is the part a lot of women wish they had a lot more of. See, women want the love as much as the heavy breathing. Women crave the promise he’ll get up with the vomiting baby, or have the aplomb to leave the toilet seat down most days. Skills like this take a lot more effort, I tell my lonesome son. If you don’t believe me, go hang around at Oil Can Henry’s for awhile. There’s sure to be a fine single woman there whose ex made her go get her own car’s oil changed. She probably hates Valentine’s Day too.

About Linda S. Clare

I'm an author, speaker, writing coach and mentor. I teach both fiction and nonfiction writing at Lane Community College and in the doctoral program as expert writing advisor for George Fox University. I love helping writers improve their craft and I'm both an avid reader and writer of stories about those with wounded hearts.

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