To write the stomp or to write the romp—that is the question.
Urban fantasy usually involves both: action scenes that pit the protagonist(s) against one or more antagonists, and romantic scenes between the main characters, or even secondary characters.
In my experience (and this is after writing 10 ¾ Chicagoland Vampires novels), writing action and romance scenes aren’t all that different, because they both involve similar mechanics: (1) emotional buildup; (2) increased pacing; and (3) physical entanglement.
Both action and romance scenes are about taking the reader on an emotional journey, and they typically involve an emotional escalation. For example, byplay or camaraderie may blossom into sensual tension, or angry words might bloom into physical violence. Both types of scenes ultimately peak (pun very much intended!), whether in the individual scene or over the course of the book or series (such as by a “slow bloom” romance).
Both romance and fight scenes also often involve increased pacing—not because the actors necessarily move faster, but because the action itself quickens. Conversation speeds from sentences to angry words; long and lingering looks become rushed by quickening heartbeats. Usually, the emotional escalation discussed above compels the faster pacing. You’re asking the characters—and therefore the readers—to feel emotions more intensely. Love, hatred, passion, anger, fear. That intensity is more effective in a scene that’s paced more quickly; otherwise, the intensity becomes harder to sustain.
Finally, and maybe most importantly, romance and action scenes are about some kind of physical entanglement. In fight scenes (as in the Chicagoland Vampires series), it might be two characters fighting with katanas. The protagonist’s movements compel a reaction from the antagonist, and vice versa. For example, Character A strikes out; Character B must either avoid the strike, or be hit by it.
Something similar happens in romantic scenes. Character A may instigate physical touch—a soft caress or kiss. Character B can avoid it (a prototypical reluctant heroine), mimic it (return the kiss), or escalate it (turn a soft caress into a passionate stroke). That physical exchange—the action and reaction—is crucial. My goal is to write physical scenes clearly enough that readers can see the action playing in their own heads.
Ultimately, of course, both scenes will reach some sort of climax (pun intended again!) But whether that involves a satisfied heroine, a defeated antagonist, or tension that will blossom later on, depends entirely on the author.
Seven years ago, the Veil that separates humanity from what lies beyond was torn apart, and New Orleans was engulfed in a supernatural war. Now, those with paranormal powers have been confined in a walled community that humans call the District. Those who live there call it Devil’s Isle.
Claire Connolly is a good girl with a dangerous secret: she’s a Sensitive, a human endowed with magic that seeped through the Veil. Claire knows that revealing her skills would mean being confined to Devil’s Isle. Unfortunately, hiding her power has left her untrained and unfocused.
Liam Quinn knows from experience that magic makes monsters of the weak, and he has no time for a Sensitive with no control of her own strength. But when he sees Claire using her powers to save a human under attack—in full view of the French Quarter—Liam decides to bring her to Devil’s Isle and the teacher she needs, even though getting her out of his way isn’t the same as keeping her out of his head.
But when the Veil threatens to shatter completely, Claire and Liam must work together to stop it, or else New Orleans will burn…
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