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Love Scene Workshop … critiques by Stacey Heather Lee

Saturday, 16 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 … 

 Stacey Heather Lee’s website

Twitter: @stacey_heather Writer of YA fiction and firm believer in the power of day spas and naps. Represented by Kristin Nelson of Nelson Literary Agency.

Stacey is such an awesome, giving author. Not only did she rock it in Pitch Wars, but she’s also given me some great advice on my current project. Stacey writes YA historical fiction and contemporary romances. And since one of her biggest dreams is to come  to Albuquerque and visit the International Balloon Fiesta, I hope to help her realize her dream. The Balloon Fiesta happens right out my front door in Albuquerque each October!

Stacey’s critiques

Title: Ocean Black

Genre: YA Urban Fantasy

Coi pulled the curtain aside.  Crawling onto my bed he kneeled behind me.

“Let me do that.”  Who says this?  Perhaps it will be clear from context, or at least put this in previous paragraph if Coi said it.

His fingers were light against my arm as he stopped my angry movements, prying the brush from my fingers.  Gently he began to run the brush down my dark waves, letting his free hand trail softly behind.  A shiver ran down my spine.


“Are you cold?” he asked, (his voice) causing another shiver to pulse through me.

“No.”  Came out weak and wimpy.

(I felt him) adjust his position, moving his body closer.   He placed a leg on either side of me. These two sentences can be tightened a lot – He moved closer, placing a leg on either side of me. His breath became hot on my neck.  He continued smooth strokes down my hair.  My head lolled back, then forward, as he pulled the brush through again and again.  Coi (had) brushed my hair out before, (had) helped me to pry the burrs that found their way in during our hikes in the woods.  But it never felt like this (before)Why?  A few words to describe the difference.  I closed my eyes, embracing the moment.  Coi’s fingertips brushed across my neck as he gathered my hair, placing it over my shoulder.  His body shifted beside me, his mouth grazing my neck.  My breath stopped. He grasped my chin and turned my face to his.

My mind went numb as his lips whispered over mine.  Coi pulled away, his expression questioning as his thumb brushed over my lips.  Then he brought his mouth to mine again.   

My hands reached up, tentatively touching his shoulders, my fingers tracing the muscles down his arms. The kiss grew deeper. I heard a small hum escape from deep in his throat.  His arm tightened around me, pulling me close. He (used his weight to) eased me back on the bed, and his (other) free hand ran up my bare leg.

Intriguing!  I like the hairbrush tease and Coi sounds like one sexy dude.  Be careful of getting stuck in the “I did this.  He did that.  His such and such did this.  My such and such did that,” tempo; vary your sentence structure and you’ll make your scene that much more intriguing.  For example, after “it never felt like this before,” your next sentence might just be a few adjectives.  Tender, like . . .


Genre: Epic Fantasy 

Eris and I stare at each other. My chest heaves as I try to fight, to run away, but my body has turned to swirling air under his gaze.

“Why are you doing this? Why are you helping me?” I finally whisper.

Eris screws up (otherwise, it sounds like he’s screwing his face! LOL) his face as if asking himself the same question (and struggling to draw the answer out. unnecessary) His eyes close and his breathing becomes noisy. Then he opens his eyes and looks straight at me, his eyes aglow and mysterious. We have a lot of “eyes” in this paragraph.  Work with a different body part.

My heart stills as I forget to breathe.

Slowly, steadily he moves towards me.

His eyes (more eyes) are liquid darkness.

They hold me.

His fingers are living marble as they stroke my jaw line. The tips graze my bare throat and I can smell him: the simmering scent of sand. Smell simmering scent of sand – alliteration stands out too much.  Plus, the image is a little odd – simmering sand?  Maybe you’ve already explained this earlier.

He bends forward – in one rough motion, his hand rakes through my hair – to clutch and cradle the back of my head.  Sentence structure doesn’t work for me, put an action within an action?  And how does she know he’s bending forward to clutch and cradle the back of her head?  Just describe what happens without her predictions and take out the unnecessary verbs to move action along: “Clutching the hair at the back of my head, he brings me towards his lips”   My mouth is open as his lips brush lightly over mine.

It’s as if he’s dipped his finger into a limpid pool,what is like this – the kiss?  Specify what the “it” is.  And if the kiss is like dipping his finger – that’s sort of an odd analogy, isn’t it?  the fiercest of sensations ripple through my depths. My heart kicks. My eyes half close in pleasure as I desperately try to halt my trembling, but already I’m leaning into him. The pressure of his mouth increases, but all I can think of is his other hand sliding down my side, curling round my waist, and searing my skin wherever it touches…

Sand scatters onto the tent floor.

My breathing speeds up.

“Well?” Eris is grinning at me.

My cheeks are hot as I stare at him. If he didn’t know I liked him before, he can be in no doubt now. “What?”

“Any more questions?”

I glare at him as I push him away, but he is not upset. More like victorious.

Hm, Eric’s a tease.  I like it, mostly because Eric on True Blood was a bit of a hottie and would totally act this way.  I digress.  I think you have the start of something very intriguing.  Need a little work on clarifying the choreography, and then I think you’re golden.  Thank you for sharing!


TITLE: Twelve Steps

GENRE: YA Contemporary


I slip my hands around his neck, burying my fingers in his hair. Before I can stop to think about what I’m doing, I pull his lips to mine.

Jarod hesitates and pulls away slightly. “We can’t…” 

He glances toward the house as his voice trails off, and (I’m pretty sure I’ve blown any chance I might have had). Suggest tightening the end of this sentence; there’s too much double verbing, conditional and indecisiveness. But then he looks into my eyes and smiles. “We shouldn’t,” he says, and brushes his lips against mine once more, so quickly I almost don’t feel it (before he pulls away again) Unnecessary

He traces the contours of my lips and my cheek with his thumb. “You’re so beautiful,” he breathes. His arms tighten around my waist, and he catches my lower lip between his teeth (and teases it for a moment,) nitpicky thing – how old is Jarod? Sexual teasing – I start to think adult.  Maybe just go straight into this: then he parts my lips with his tongue, probing tentatively.

I let out an involuntary moan, and he sighs. He pulls me close, the kiss deepening into a hungry passion. I think you can tighten these two sentences – I moan, and he pulls me closer, the kiss deepening into hungry passion. Otherwise I start to feel like I’m reading a laundry list. His lips move across my cheek to my neck, and he nibbles playfully as he pushes me up against the front door, his body tight against mine. I run my fingers through his hair and take a gasping breath as I recapture his lips with mine. I’m surprised that my heart doesn’t beat its way right out of my chest. (a tad cliché; flex your literary muscle)

After an eternity, we break apart and Jarod takes a staggering step back. “Wow,” he says. “That was… wow.” 
“Yeah.” I press my hand to my chest to still my racing heart, hoping that he’ll kiss me again. When I can’t stand it anymore, I take a step closer and he reaches out to caress my cheek, but then headlights wash over us as Dad’s car pulls into the driveway, and the spell is broken.
I like how dad comes upon them, breaking the spell.  Really nice work!

Come back Monday for more love scene critiques

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

Filed: Workshops

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