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Love Scene Workshop … critiques by Gina Ciocca

Wednesday, 20 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 … 

Gina Ciocca‘s blog
Twitter: @gmc511  

Gina writes YA romance, is a proud member of @YAMisfits, and is rep’d by John M. Cusick at Greenhouse Literary. She’s such a talented writer and generous to the writing community. I’m so happy she took time out of her busy schedule to join us. She’s in the process of moving and she’s having baby (Yay!). And she’s also a Pitch Madness success story. I couldn’t be more thrilled to have her critique some love scenes.

Gina’s critiques …

TITLE: Crossover
GENRE: NA Science Fiction


She laid a kiss on him. It fell off center on his lips as their noses slid against each other, setting Blake’s skin burning. Their lips found their rhythm, clinging and pressing and sliding. He felt everything. The pads of her fingers against his neck, the curve of her breasts meeting his chest, the texture of her lips on his dry ones. For this sentence I’d either insert an adjective to describe her lips that contrasts with dry, or take dry out altogether. Dry lips make me think of chapped lips, which can kind of ruin a sexy moment, which this definitely is. Then it was gone.

Hanna moved back(comma) blushing(comma) and Blake followed her down (comma) keeping her lips within a whisper. I read this sentence a few times, and it’s still not making sense to me, which could be because I don’t have the context of the whole scene. If she moved back, then where is he following her down to? And I’m not sure what you mean by “keeping her lips within a whisper.” I think it’s supposed to me a measure of closeness (?) although that’s not typically how whisper is used.“That was stupid,” she breathed. I’d recommend making this the last sentence of the paragraph and incorporating the rest into the following one, since this seems to be a very Hanna-centric passage. I feel like it flows better that way. Every inch of him was here. In this moment. He couldn’t remember feeling so alive.

Leaving will (use would to avoid tense change) be that much harder. Blake would be damned if he’d let her regret this.

“Oh yeah.” Because now he’d spend every hour thinking of everything he’d missed. He kissed her again, cupping her head and arching her back until she lined up with him, mouth opening under his.

Her hand raked through his hair, the nails scratching his scalp. The sensation shot south and weakened his knees. He gave as good as he got, making her gasp when he nibbled on her lower lip. Blake slid his good hand down her back, her own grip holding her tight against him. He pulled her closer. The pressure of her against his dick made him groan and Hanna ended the long kiss with a short, clinging one. Short and clinging are kind of contradictory, no?

“So. Stupid,” she whispered, the word slipping between her gasps. Her hands kept exploring his body. Head, neck, shoulders, back. I don’t think you need this sentence. It has a kind of medical exam feel to it (and also kind of makes me think of the song “Head, Shoulders, Knees, and Toes”J) that takes away from the sexiness.Her kiss morphed into a grin. You might want to mention here that she pulls back a little. I was picturing her smiling against his lips, which made it a little confusing when he mentions what he sees in her eyes. Inside her eyes burned a need Blake found himself smiling back at. The fire she lit under his skin made him want to press her back against the glass and kiss her again. Hard.

“Shut up,” he smiled and kissed the corner of her mouth.

I like that the exchange here has a teasing quality to it, and the kiss is definitely hot! A few tightens and tweaks and this will really smolder.

TITLE: Nearly Perfect
GENRE: Light sci-fi YA


They stood next to each other in the empty cabin, staring out the window at the rain and darkened sky.  The room was a muddled shade of gray, the only light coming from the small fire in the hearth. I like the imagery here – very nice.

Annabelle didn’t know that he was looking down at her small feet and hands, at her narrow face that had warmed in the nearness of the firelight, at the small mole that lay on that warm cheek, and at her black hair that had somewhat dried and was resting use rested – avoid passive voice  gently on her shoulders, as black as the ink on the pages of the secret diary and just as enticing. It seems like this is probably an excerpt from the middle of your story, in which case I’m not sure you’d need to go into so much detail about her physical description because the reader would probably already know what she looks like. One way to crank up the sexy might be to describe him touching (or *imagining* touching) her face/hair etc., instead of just looking at them.

She shivered.  Xavier moved behind her, rubbing her arms vigorously with both of his large hands.

“We made it,” he whispered, his breath warm and soft against her hair. Annabelle’s heart started to beat as quickly as when they were walking up that steep hill for a mile.

Xavier slowly turned her around so she was facing him, and looked down at her very tenderlyThere are lots of adverbs in this passage, which I made bold. Replace these with stronger descriptions or simile wherever you can, for example, “Her heart pounded as if she was still climbing the last steep mile of mountain.” Too many adverbs have a way of making good writing feel lazy. She thought her heart might burst out of her chest.  The rain was pounding pounded on the window with a rhythmic staccato sound, as if in time to her beating heart. 

She was a slave to this moment:  she could do nothing but feel and breathe.  He rubbed a finger down her cheek to brush off the last bits of rain.  His breathing came fast and hard.  She didn’t think it was just from the running, though. Maybe it’s because I haven’t read what came before this, but the beginning of the passage describes them warming up by the fire and staring at the rain, which is all very calm. So it seems odd that she’d attribute his breathing to running. It might make more sense, and up the sexy factor, if she’s well aware that his breathlessness has everything to do with her and nothing to with any running he might’ve done J

She looked up at him with eagerness, a spark of love lying in her belly.  It felt too fierce to be only butterflies.

He leaned over, inhis lips warm and soft.  They felt more real than anything she’d ever felt before.

Very pretty imagery in this passage, and the tenderness of the exchange is very sweet. Good job!


Genre: YA contemporary


I pulled off my tee-shirt and jumped into the creek, the shock of cold water instant relief from the miserable heat.

Marcus dove in beside me and came up grinning. “A bikini? Aw, man…”  

“Yeah, well, take what you can get,” I splashed him, coming close enough that he could almost touch me. 

“Oh really? (Changed this period to a question mark) Take what I can get, huh?” He lunged and grabbed my legs, pulling me under. I came up gasping. I yelled and sputtered while I pulled my dripping hair out of my face, but he pushed me up against the bank, muddy and root-covered as it was, and kissed me. I could hardly see through the water streaming from my hair but I kissed him back, wrapping my arms around his neck and pulling him closer. His skin was warm against mine in the dark water. 

Something wasn’t right. His mouth was tight and demanding. Every muscle in his body tensed and his hands trembled where they touched my face. I hadn’t told him this would be the last time, but he knew it. We weren’t fifteen anymore. I pushed toward him. Nice job giving a little tease of conflict here.

He wrapped his arms around me and in all the heat (here I’d either say “the heat of his skin” or “the heat of his body,” only because it sounds a little contradictory for her to say she’s distracted by both heat and cold. Plus describing the source of the heat reminds us how close they are and turns up the sexy factor J) and cold water I barely noticed the tears falling down my own face.

He pulled away to look at me, but I shook my head and his body came back, his lips back to mine. I wanted him to stay. We stood together in the creek while the cold, black water whirled downstream away from us under the heavy night sky. His hand touched my face, and at that moment I didn’t really care if the world fell in on me or I died of cancer or in an accident or the whole world found out about me and Marcus. This was enough. Unless she actually has cancer or is in imminent danger of being in some sort of accident, I’d consider just leaving it at not caring if she died… listing off ways to croak seems a little morbid in this moment!

I’m really curious as to what’s happening between these two and why it’s the last time they’ll be together. Very nice mix of conflict, tension, and sexiness!

Come back tomorrow for more love scene critiques

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

Filed: Workshops

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