Friday, March 31, 2017

How to Write Romantic Scenes for Christian Novels Part 1

by Elva Cobb Martin

If you write romance, which I understand is still the highest selling genre, pull up a chair and let's talk about writing romantic scenes. Specifically, let's chat about writing Christian love scenes that won't set the CBA on its head, but also won't disappoint our expectant romance readers, Christian or otherwise.

In secular romance books, TV, and movies today it seems anything goes, but I have different goals for my inspirational romance novels. I happen to be married to my high school sweetheart, and even in our long years together my husband is still romantic. I don't think romance need ever die in a Christian marriage, or a Christian book. Do I hear three cheers for God-ordained romance?

Father God must approve romance as He started the first one placing a man and a woman alone in a lovely garden. He also uses the symbolism of the Bride (the church) and Jesus as Bridegroom to describe our eternal relationship with Him. Several human love stories are described in detail in the Bible. I still love to reread about Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and Leah and Rachel, to name a few. God is interested in true love between a man a woman.

Here are some thoughts that guide my writing romantic scenes.
They are scenes with a beginning middle and end. The main, warm romance scene is preceded by a prep scene and followed by a reaction scene.

Below are excerpts from my just released romantic suspense, Summer of Deception--the first kiss between my Marine veteran, plantation owner hero, Luke, and Christian nanny Rachel. They've just returned from their first date for dinner and a play in romantic Charleston, South Carolina. However, the evening out was just a thank you from the hero for the heroine's help in shopping for school clothing for the hero's young daughter. 
      But God. . .

1) The Important Prep Scene
      Luke kept stealing glances at the young woman
asleep on the seat beside him. Tender emotions he’d
not experienced in a long time battled with his realistic
determination not to become involved. Get a hold on,
     At dinner, he’d gotten more out of observing her
tasting the various dishes than enjoying the well prepared
food himself. She watched the play like a child totally 
engrossed with him blocked out entirely at times. 
That was new. Few women had ever appeared
to forget he was beside them. There’s nothing false or
pretentious about her. He remembered her sympathetic tears during the play. Like a rainstorm, similar to Kristina’s outbursts.
      She was still a child in a lot of ways. Definitely too
young to—. He shook his head, determined not to
carry the thought further, and succeeded for the next
few miles.
      But when he pulled the car into the garage and cut
the motor, and she still didn’t awaken, he found
himself entranced, watching her gentle breathing, the
way her lashes lay on her cheeks, the contrast of dark
hair and creamy complexion shining in the moonlight,
the sweet fragrance of her perfume. Gardenia? He
needed to get out of the car and as far away as
possible, but he couldn’t move.

      Rachel became aware the car no longer moved.
She lifted her head and viewed with amazement the
outlines of the garage’s interior. She turned to glance at
Luke. He sat staring at her, his head tilted against the
window, his shirt open and his tie slung across the
steering wheel.
      "Oh, my, I’m sorry—I don’t know what possessed
me. I’ve never fallen asleep—like this." Her voice
sounded hoarse and she cleared her throat. She was
thankful the shadows covered her burning cheeks.
       Luke exited the car and approached her side. He
opened her door, still without a word.
       She got out, glanced up at him in the moonlight
flooding the garage entrance, and found her heart
pounding out of her chest. An irresistible force drew
her toward him. She fought it with every ounce of her
strength, turned and took two shaky steps away.
     In one stride he was beside her. His hands touched
her shoulders and wheeled her around. Facing him, she trembled and every resolve she’d had all the past weeks
not to get involved, drained out her toes.

2) The Warm Romantic Scene of a First Kiss.

Luke whispered her name again, lifted her chin and gazed into her eyes. “You exclaimed over each dish at the restaurant. You wept over Madame Butterfly and forgot I was even there. You fell asleep as we drove back to the plantation—and I know you’re still keeping a secret of some kind—but,” his voice grew husky, “I give up, I’m mesmerized.” He gently drew her to him and kissed her lips, softly at first, then again, and this time the kiss was more startling and telling. When at last it ended, he pulled back and regarded her. 
The surprised, tender, protective attitude on his face baptized Rachel with awe and joy. Rainbows danced around her. Every fiber in her being recognized and responded to the look of love glowing on his strong countenance.  

3) The romantic scene should be followed by a reaction scene.

      "Good night." Rachel gathered her strength and
forced her legs to walk to the patio entrance. At the
door, she glanced back. He was propped against the
car watching her. He gave her a cute salute.
      In the house she floated up the stairs not daring to
let go of the railing. Was she dreaming or what?
A smile was permanently imprinted on her lips,
still warm from his kiss. As she prepared for bed, she
shook her head to no avail. She climbed between the
cool sheets and something like a chuckle escaped her
      Lying on her pillow, she floated in the moonlight
pouring through the top of the windows. Everything
she’d ever read about falling in love she now
acknowledged as true. Giddy, euphoric, happiness so
real she could almost touch it with her fingers. Surely,
love of this sort must be a wonderful gift from God.
      She closed her eyes and a sharp pain struck her heart
like an arrow. Doubts threatened to engulf her. “Dear
God, please let this be okay. I love Luke. I love him. And he
loves me. Please work it all out.”

Are you seeing how a prep scene and then a reaction scene are important to deliver the "kiss" scene? In my next blog, we will continue this chat.What has helped you write romance scenes? Have you found a formula or special work book to help you?

Please join the chat about romance! And share by clicking below.

Elva Cobb Martin

​Author Bio:
Elva Cobb Martin is president of the South Carolina Chapter of American Christian Fiction Writers (2014-2017). She is a former school teacher and a graduate of Anderson College and Erskine College. Decision, Charisma, and Home Life have carried her articles. Summer of Deception, her debut inspirational romantic suspense novel is to be released March, 24, 2017, by Pelican Books. She has also contracted an historical romance, In a Pirate’s Debt, slated for release by Lighthouse Publishing of the Carolinas in May, 2017. She has published a Bible study, Power Over Satan, available on, and she coordinates an internet Prayer Task Force. Elva is represented by Jim Hart of Hartline Literary. A mother and grandmother, Elva lives with her husband Dwayne and a mini-dachshund writing helper, Lucy, and a parakeet named Tweetie, in Anderson, South Carolina. She would love for  you to connect with her on her web site, her blog http://carolinaromancewit on Twitter , Facebook, and Pinterest cobbmartin/