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Love Scene Workshop … critiques by Heather Webb

Saturday, 23 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 … 


Twitter: @msheatherwebb

Heather Webb is the author of BECOMING JOSEPHINE, her debut historical coming from (Plume/Penguin 2014). A freelance editor and blogger, she spends oodles of time helping writers hone their skills—something she adores. You may find her Twittering @msheatherwebb, hosting contests and author interviews on her blog (www.heatherwebb.net/blog), or hanging around RomanceUniversity.org as a contributor to the Editor’s Posts.

Book Blurb:

Rose sails from Martinique to Paris to trade her plantation ways and Creole black magic culture for love and adventure. But her haughty Parisian husband dashes her hopes when he abandons her amid the tumult of the French Revolution. Through her savoir faire, Rose secures her footing in high society, reveling in handsome men and glitzy balls—until the heads of her friends begin to roll.

After narrowly escaping death in the blood-drenched cells of Les Carmes prison, she reinvents herself as Josephine, a socialite of status and power. Yet her youth is fading, and Josephine must choose between a precarious independence and the love of an awkward suitor. Little does she know, he would become the most powerful man of his century- Napoleon Bonaparte.

BECOMING JOSEPHINE is a novel of one woman’s journey to find eternal love and stablity, and ultimately to find herself. 

Heather’s critiques

TITLE: The Hit List
GENRE: YA Contemporary


“I’m not going out with you,” I say, my voice shaky.

He takes a step closer to me (leans toward me)and I step back, into the wall I’m trapped between the brick wall and his lean body. Luke. My vision  starts to close in and I feel like I’m looking through a telescope.(Delete this last sentence—it’s distracting us from the steamy moment. I’m literally envisioning her with a telescope.)

His breath is on my cheek. when he speaks again.I just want to know why. “I know you feel the connection between us. You can’t deny it.” (deleted these pieces b/c they don’t add anything)

I do feel it. Beneath the panic, there’s something that pulls me to him. Something that wants him to be this close. to me right now. while the rest of me screams at him to get away from me.(You’ve already told us there’s panic, so it’s redundant to restate it. Restating is fine in certain situations. When you’re trying to establish sexual tension, I’d avoid it.)

The war rages inside me. I want fight or flight to take over, but there’s a third option in this scenario. Surrender. 

He’s too close to me,  His mouth hoverscentimeters from mine. My mind reels at his closeness and I don’t know what to do. Blind panic courses through me.as  I  try to remember what I learned in self-defense class. He brushes a strand of hair out of my eyes and my legs go numb. (I added a slight touch here and her reaction so we can really feel what she feels.)

It’s useless. I don’t remember a damn thing. And at this point, I’m not sure I want to.

His lips touch mine in a soft caress and the war is lost. I groan and push up on my tip toes, running my fingers through his thick hair,and pulling him closer to me. He steps toward me, his body stretching along mine closes the space between us and presses ing my body me firmly to the wall. His hands find my hips, my neck, my face. (nice!)

My thoughts jumble together in my mind. Run. Fast. Get away. This can’t happen again. You can’t let this happen again.

But my heart won’t let go.

I stay, locked in his embrace, locked captured by in his kiss, confused. I didn’t know what I wanted, what I should do. about what I want and what I should do.

He pulls away as tears prick my eyes. 

Nice scene! Most of the little things I snipped are directional phrases that make the reader focus more on where the body parts are, and little redundancies. I’m curious who Luke is and why she’s feeling panicked! I’m guessing that’s clear in the rest of the story. Good job. 

TITLE: Truthless
GENRE: YA (Urban) Fantasy


He is so close, I cannot only smell him, I can feel his warmth. My knees are weak I can barely breathe and my heart is beats ingfaster than I knew it could. It threatens  escape at any moment. (I’d stick to two body descriptions here.)

Alan’s hand is still over my mouth. , and as h  He leans towards the bookshelf behind, straining to make out the . He pays close attention to the heated, yet subdued conversation. I think recognize the woman’s voice, but I can’t place it, and I don’t really care to.

All I can focus on is him, his closeness. how close he is. It’s the best feeling, and the worst. one, too. If I were thinking clearly, I would try to figure out who they are, to gauge the level of danger we are in. As it is, it’s clear  The greatest danger to me even now is a combination of Alan, myself and my stupid hormones. I hope he won’t notice. Please don’t let him notice. I don’t want him to see that I’m his. Not when I don’t know if he’s mine. (The second half of this paragraph is a little awkward, starting with “as it is,…”. I’d rework it to be less “telling”. Also, I’d like to see what her body is doing. Is she panting? Are her eyes wide? Break up the inner voice with body movement.)

My eyes are fixed on his face. A bold move I only dare make, because He staresintently ahead, his head tilted in he isintently looking at the direction of the voices come from. I don’t think I’ve neverseen his eyes up close before. Not like this. They are a lighter hue of emerald from here, but they are every bit as mesmerizing.

He looks down, and as he catches my gaze, a surge goes through every part of me. Now my heart really has left me. I have no idea where it went. I meant to avert my eyes, but it’s too late. (The first sentence is fine, but the three are too much inner chattiness. It’s a delicate balance—using internal dialog mixed with external action.) I’m locked in, I can’t look away. I don’t want to. I may not believe in his talks of potions, powers and making things float, but this, this is magic.(The last part of this sentence “this is magic” is a little…hmm…corny? You can say the same thing without being so forceful, if that makes sense?)

Interesting scene! I’d love to see you play up more of the external danger a bit so that it’s a stronger metaphor for the emotional “danger” our protagonist is in. Thanks for letting me read and good luck with this!

Come back Monday for more love scene critiques

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

Filed: Workshops

  • These scenes are well-written, and Heather’s critiques are wonderful! Only a couple of comments that I would make:

    First, in the scene freom “The Hit List,” in the paragraph that says:

    He’s too close to me, His mouth hovers centimeters from mine. My mind reels at his closeness and I don’t know what to do. Blind panic courses through me. as I try to remember what I learned in self-defense class.

    I’d delete the “Blind panic courses through me” line. It feels redundant, since the panic is both mentioned and described so many times.

    In the scene from “Truthless,” I kind of like the awkward corniness of the “this is magic” line. I was getting a sense that this is a fairly young, naive narrator, with a crush on an older, more mature boy who may or may not return her feelings. And this line really drove that point home for me. (Of course, if this isn’t the feel you’re going for here, then I agree with Heather. Try to find a different way to express the feeling.)

  • LindaBudz says:

    Loved each of these in their own ways. I kind of liked the “this is magic” line as well … but maybe try “this is alchemy” instead? Gives it a double meaning. Juat a thought!

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