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Love Scene Workshop … critique by Mónica B.W

Wednesday, 27 February 2013  |  Posted by Brenda Drake

Over the next few weeks, some really special friends of mine are stopping by to critique participants’ love scenes. Please join us and find out what’s working and what’s not with our lucky winners’ scenes. 

And here’s something about my next guest … 

 My Photo

Twitter: @Monica_BW

Not only is Mónica a talented writer, she’s a mother of three boys and the owner of eleven hens. She writes YA fiction and is represented by Lauren MacLeod of the Strothman Agency. She’s a freelance editor and you can check out all her fantabulous services here.

Mónica is a brilliant editor. Her edits have helped writers get offers during recent contests. More than a third of her team for
The Writer’s Voice Contest have agents already and one even landed a six-figure deal with Disney-Hyperion. The contestant who worked with Mónica on Pitch Wars got two offers of representation.

Mónica‘s critiques

TITLE: Coveted

GENRE: YA Urban Fantasy


She brushed her hand against his face and guided him around to look at her with a firm but gentle touch. She held his gaze, something unreadable playing in her own. Those bright green eyes saw through him, to his core, to the pain, the anger, the fear. Their color burned, and their fire filled him with the want, the need, to touch her.

[I like that he feels that she’s seeing through him—makes the moment more intimate. Now, I would love more precision in this paragraph. Like, you say she brushes his face—but can you be more exact? (His temple? His cheek? Jaw?)

Also, I had to reread the first sentence to get what you mean, and I think it was a bit wordy. Its sentence structure seemed off, because you say “…to look at her with a firm but gentle touch.” (Sounds like look with a touch, which is weird.) The “gentle touch” should be near the “guiding” because it modifies that motion, not the look. (Rough example: She wanted him to look at her, so she guided his head around with a firm but gentle touch.)

I’m assuming this is a scene from a manuscript, and that we already know where they are, and if they are standing, sitting, etc. If this is the beginning of the chapter, then I would suggest to ground the reader a bit more so we can imagine the scene better.]

Before he knew what he was doing, he reached. She pushed up onto her toes and he felt her lips brush against his.

[YAY! The kiss! =)

He reached and touched her where? Grabbed her? Also, I don’t think you need the filter (“he felt”). The sentence works fine without it–> She pushed up onto her toes and her lips brushed against his. That way, the verb would be stronger, too. Though you just used the word brushed in the first paragraph. Consider a synonym.]

He froze, eyes widening. Her lips were soft, so were her fingers where she held his face, despite their scars. Warmth spread through him at the contact, his senses overwhelmed with the rising heat and the scent of apples. She pressed against him, her small body filling his arms. He didn’t realize he returned her kiss until he heard the groan. It welled up from somewhere deep inside him, desperate, frustrated and full of desire, for her. Her heat, her Light consumed all of the anger and the sting of betrayal.

[Oh, I love the second part of this paragraph—where you give us details (the smell, the way she fits in his arms, the groan) and it makes me feel like I’m there. Also, I’m intrigued by the betrayal and that “Light.”  Nice.

I think there are parts where you could tighten—example: “…so were her fingers where she held on his face….”

Nitpick: maybe it’s because I’m not familiar with the whole book, but I couldn’t quite picture the scars. She has scars on her fingers? Fingertips? Can you actually have a scar on your pads, where you touch? I’m not sure about that, unless they are like recent injuries with scabs or something.

Maybe this is just a personal thing, but I would love a bit of internal monologue after “He froze, eyes widening.” Because it feels like the POV has zoomed out of the character and I want to know what he’s making out of it in his mind. Is it like, “What the hell? She betrayed him and then she was kissing him? But it didn’t matter because her lips were so soft…” Or is it more like, “Man, this woman knew how to kiss.” Or whatever. I just want to know why exactly he froze.]

The fingers of one hand shoved into her thick curls, fisting them to tug. She moaned a faint sound that set his blood alight as her fingers wrung themselves in his hair. She pulled, and the pain only heightened his lust.

[While I like the idea behind this paragraph, I think it was rather wordy. Do we need to know the fingers are from one hand and not the other? Also, I feel like you could tighten the “moaned a faint sound,” to something like, “She moaned, and the faint sound set his blood…” You nix a word that way.]

“Mmm…” She stepped back, pulling him with her. Her back hit the wall and he leaned in over her, against her. They stayed like that, breath mingled in soft pants, limbs tangling, trying to keep moving. An awkward little dance spun them further along, into the short hall that led to her bedroom.

[I like the beginning of this paragraph!

I got a bit confused, though, when you say: “trying to keep moving.” I know you explain that later—that they are headed to the bedroom (*giggles*). But I wanted more precision in that “trying to keep moving.” Moving how? Moving is a weak verb. Also, why trying? Why not just moving? I’m asking because I don’t know what you mean exactly. Also, can you show me why the “dance” is awkward? Do they, like, trip? Are they trying to remove each other clothes but, for some reason, fail? Is that why it is awkward?]

She broke away, yanking at his shirt. He followed, not wanting to leave any distance between them.


“Caleb,” she breathed his name against his lips.

[I’m guessing we already know his name is Caleb. I mean, this is just an excerpt of your MS, right?

So, consider just saying: “‘Caleb,’ she breathed against his lips.”

And THEN maybe you could even add how his name being uttered by her makes him feel/think/etc]

Overall, I enjoyed reading this! Thanks for sharing. =) I think that with a little “zooming” into the POV character, this scene would be stronger. And also with a bit of tightening and polishing of the sentences and their structures. Best of luck!


Come back tomorrow for more love scene critiques

Comments welcome! As always, be respectful and kind with your comments.

*****Don’t forget to enter for a chance to win one of three copies of GABRIEL STONE AND THE DIVINITY OF VALTA by Shannon Duffy here.*****

Filed: Workshops

  • Giora says:

    Really great comments Monica. I’ll try to implement their spirit in my YA.

  • Giora says:

    Really great comments Monica. I’ll try to implement their spirit in my YA.

  • Monica B.W. says:

    I’m glad you found them helpful! 🙂 Thanks for stopping by!

  • Great critique, Monica!

    The only thing that I noticed that Monica didn’t mention was in the 3rd paragraph. I had some trouble with the line: “He didn’t realize he returned her kiss until he heard the groan.” I can’t imagine someone participating in a kiss without even realizing it. This pulled me right out of the scene for a moment. Perhaps you could find a different way to express his shock at being kissed?

  • Donna Hole says:

    Thank you for sharing this excerpt, and the critique. Very helpful.


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