What makes your heart race?
What makes your legs weak?
What makes your palms sweat?
What makes your stomach feel like it's full of butterflies?
A convincing romance answers these questions, or at least challenges them. Not all love stories are "love at first sight" or "a universal love". I actually prefer the kind that makes the characters experience real issues that couples often face. No relationship is perfect. Falling in love is the easy part, but choosing to continue to love is where you have to put the work in. There isn't any justice given to love and relationships if the nuances are ignored.
Even when writing fantasy or sci-fi, faking the love story is very noticeable. The characters aren't relateable and the story suffers because the story just isn't believable. You can create a new world without the romance, but if you add the romance, at least make it seem real.
That being said, the love scenes in my books are not catered to my readers, sorry to say. Those love scenes are catered to the characters and how they react to one another. Two characters who are deeply in love may have a passionate encounter while two who are acquaintances may not. The chemistry is the biggest factor that sets the tone for the scene. I can definitely say that the sex isn't gratuitous, either. If the characters in my story are having sex, it's because they are either coming to a romantic milestone or progressing their intimacy.
RULE OF THUMB - if the sex doesn't progress the story, you don't need it.
Anyway, I hope I've made you think. Comment below if you have anything to add!
I'm a writer, a mother, a wife, a friend, a sister, and a daughter. My journey as a published author is in full swing and I'm inviting all my friends along for the ride!