I had to think about this one, because in a romance novel, there are scenes that show up in nearly every specimen of the genre. The opening scene is always fun, because that’s where I present characters who’ve been tramping around in my imagination often for years. The “meet” is the scene where the protagonists first lay eyes on each other, and for many readers, that’s where the book gets interesting.
Then there’s a scene–let’s call it first intimacy–when the protagonists have noticed each other, and that noticing has turned to attraction, and now they’re taking the first steps in the direction of acting on that attraction. This scene might be a kiss, a grudging confidence, or an argument, but the readers know it when they read it. Another pivotal romance scene is the Big Black Moment, when all hope is lost.
But when I think back to the scenes that have made me cry, or just put down the book on a heartfelt sigh, it’s often a family scene, or a sibling scene. I think of the Duke of Moreland waiting at the back of the church before he gives his youngest daughter away, and what Lady Eve had to say to her father–the old cavalry colonel and his petite, pretty daughter–it’s a three hanky scene.
In Lady Sophie’s book, there’s a scene where her three brothers are acknowledging how marriage and fatherhood is changing their views of life. In a way they never could have been as younger men, the three brothers are honest and open-hearted with each other, also awkward as heck. I love that scene.
The interesting thing to me about these scenes is that as I’m drafting the books, I’m not usually thinking, “Time to ramp up the intensity. Let’s get out some old family business…” These scenes are breathers that give the reader (and me) a relief from bouncing between the hero and the heroine’s viewpoints. They are usually quiet scenes and not that long.
But it’s also true that in a romance, the protagonists are wounded people, and often that wound has happened in the familial context. Putting things right with family members is a necessary part of the journey that the characters must travel, and I think we all get that. So I love those scenes, and I hope to write many more of them.