What Stace had to say on Wednesday, September 10th, 2008
Scene Crit 3–Critted

First, my sincere apologies for the delay. I started this one a little late, then made dinner, and just after I finished Mr. Super Agent Man called, so it was a while before I got back to it. So I’m very sorry, everyone.

This was a really interesting scene to crit. The writer is obviously skilled; the main thing I felt from this, though, was that in attempting to make the piece show how deeply the characters love each other, the writer forgot to show us anything else. Like the writer believed if s/he got too graphic or descriptive or detailed at all we wouldn’t find it romantic anymore.

So as much as I do have comments to make (and I fear I got a little irreverent in my critique; please accept my comments in the light-hearted and fun way I intended them. Especially as heavily romantic scenes tend to bring out the goofball in me) there were definitely some things to like here. The writing was technically very nice; there were some good images and language choices here.

Overall, though, it was more tell than show, and so felt superficial.

Jack listened actively, his eyes never leaving hers. I don’t think you need “actively”; his eyes never leaving hers shows us he’s paying close attention. The room grew dark, until everything dimmed and blurred around them and she could see only him. Nice image. At last, she fell silent and stared into his drowny deep eyes. Again, nice. Hers filled up and she dropped her gaze as a tear rolled down her face. Maybe two sentences? “Hers filled up” or “Her own eyes filled. She dropped her gaze, not wanting him to see, but she couldn’t stop the tear that rolled down her face.” Just a thought.

Jack placed a tender finger on her cheek to block the tear’s path, and they stared at each other. First bit very nice. Again, though, I’d like a little more impact. Their eyes meet again here. The next line shows us her reaction but this moment, when their eyes meet, is when they both realize. So maybe “…the tear’s path. Their eyes met. For a moment/for an eternity/it felt like an eternity/they stared at each other. Into each other.” I know you’ve already got eyes in the last paragraph—there’s a lot of eyes, a lot of staring and gazing in this piece—but it feels like we need their gazes to hit with a physical impact, you know? Jill’s heart pounded in her throat, her whole body thrilling at his touch. I think I’d like her entire body to be focused on his touch better, or the impact of his touch sending shock waves through her whole body, but this is fine. She couldn’t speak. She didn’t think she could even breathe. Nice.

He removed his finger and waited, searching her eyes for a sign of… what? Resistance? Was he mad? No, she knew he wasn’t mad. He was just allowing her space and time to make her decision. You could take “her eyes” out of that first line.

She leaned into him and they kissed, and she felt his entire being in the sweet contact. He smelled of sunny skin and wood smoke. His breath was fresh, sweet and warm. She loved him. This is nice, but I’d like a little more description of the kiss than simply “and they kissed”. Without thinking she leaned into him, a slow movement like falling through a dream, and their lips met. Soft at first, tentative and questioning. Exploring. He smelled of sunny skin and woodsmoke, tasted of sweetness and the warmth of his soul. You used “sweet” 2x in this paragraph. I like the simple declarative “She lived him” though.

With a rush of truth she realised that take out “that” she really did love this man; she wanted this man; she wanted nothing on earth right now except to have this lovely, precious, wonderful man inside her. I am a huge fan of the semicolon, but I’d consider changing the first one to a period: …love this man. She wanted this man; she wanted nothing on earth… Also I’m not crazy about the “lovely, precious, wonderful”, but that’s a voice/personal taste issue.

They stared into each other’s souls. Nice. The more souls you can cram into sex scenes the better.

“I love you.”

They said it at the same time; felt the laughter ripple inside at the same time; felt the love and the truth. If they’re saying they love each other, we know they feel the love. Isn’t there anything else they can be feeling here? Wonder, delight, awe? Since the net exists, couldn’t we get a sense of them both feeling what the other feels, of the love intensifying and becoming a solid thing?

“My love.” Who is speaking here?

They thought and heard each other’s thoughts, “Oh, you are my love,” Is this all they’re thinking? I’m not crazy about the sentence structure there but can’t think of a way to fix it, save putting a period after thoughts and starting a new sentence with “They walked upstairs.” and walked upstairs, still entwined, to stand bathed in moonlight in Jill’s bedroom. How did they walk upstairs entwined? Also, this feels abrupt. They have one small kiss, they say their I love yous, then just walk upstairs? This is an important moment; where’s the passion? Where’s the need? This is a huge moment for them, but it feels ho-hum; you could probably do another page here in the living room, kissing and touching and getting lost in each other, before they decide they can’t wait another minute to head upstairs. Or they could do it on the couch, there’s no reason why we have to break the action to walk up the stairs. The net hummed and glowed in harmony as they undressed each other slowly, gently, with tenderness and open admiration. This should be expanded hugely. They’re undressing each other for the first time; again, show us the love and passion. Show them kissing each newly exposed inch of skin, show us the reverence (yes, Bernard, lol) with which they touch each other and look at each other, show us how they feel the love between them with every touch and look and soft sound. Turn us on; show us his broad manly chest, let us smell the warm musky scent of his skin and taste how it’s a little salty. Show us his hands gliding over her hard nipples and how that feels for her. Show us the contrast between the smooth cotton of their clothing and the textures of their skin.

He stood motionless, naked before her, beautiful in the blue light, watching carefully and listening to her thoughts. Whose POV are we in here? He’s just standing there watching her? There’s no sense of desire there; it feels like afterglow, not eager anticipation. Also if he’s listening to her thoughts and feels what she feels, why is he asking if she’s sure?

“Are you sure, Jill?”

“Jack, I’ve never felt surer about anything in my life.” They’re the only people there, would they really use each others’s names? It feels a little stilted. A thought occurred to her. I don’t think we need this line. “Are you okay with this?”

“Okay?” He smiled. “Yes, love. I’m okay with it.” This is a great opportunity to have him say how much he wants her, or “Are you kidding, I want you so bad I think I’m going to explode” or anything at all.

They lay on the bed and kissed; caressing each other; exploring each other; holding, stroking, cupping and kissing and stroking, you have kissing and stroking twice. Also, again, expand this, it’s all TELL. Where are they kissing and caressing and stroking? Are her hands sliding over his back, his bottom? Does she feel his hard chest against hers, feel her breasts crush against him? Does he take her nipples into his mouth while she tangles her fingers into his hair? Where are they exploring? Are they aroused by any of this? Show us how hard he is, show us how wet she is. You don’t have to use explicit language if you’re uncomfortable with it, but even without it you can say something like “They lay on the bed and kissed, their tongues tangling, and the kiss grew into touching, exploring. Jill’s entire life was captured in this moment, while Jack’s mouth whispered sweet words against her fevered skin, while his tongue tasted her gentle sweat. She was dizzy, she no longer existed as herself but was something else, someone else, a new person who belonged to Jack and to whom he belonged in turn”, blah blah blah that sort of thing. Give us some emotion here, something to engage us and all the time gazing intently into each other’s eyes they’re staring into each others eyes while kissing? Have you ever tried that? Because it’s really weird thinking each other’s thoughts and feeling each other’s emotions. But what are those thoughts and emotions? “She felt his adoration of her, a warm golden glow around her”, something like that.

Jill lay back and opened to him: trusting; trembling; watching. Replace semicolons with commas, and take out the colon. A colon is not a sexy piece of punctuation. Also, she just lay down flat on her back (I thought they were already lying down) and opened her legs? Perhaps it’s the lack of dialogue or emotion but that feels kind of porny to me. He knelt between her legs and slid gentle fingers inside. Inside where? Inside her? You could say “inside her”. Also, “He knelt between her legs” feels awkward. I picture him just kneeling there, staring at her, then moving one hand forward and poking her with it. Like a kid poking a bug with a stick, you know? And how did she feel when he inserted his finger? There’s no reaction from her at all here, which makes it seem even more like a sort of experiment on an inanimate object rather than a man making love to a woman. Electric shocks shot through her. Literally? Also, the sentences in this paragraph all feel rather bald. You had a good rhythm before, even if it was telly; the rhythm disappears here. These sentences are too short and declarative for a tender and hot moment. Also, when a shock shoots through her, it’s a little rhymey; a shock shot, shock shot, shock shot. Not a huge deal but something to be aware of. She was so wet. Show us this, don’t tell us. “His thick fingers slipped inside her, stretching her, gliding over her incredibly sensitive skin” or “spreading the creamy evidence of her arousal over her delicate skin”, something like that. He moved over her, holding his weight on his forearms for a few seconds while they kissed, and slid into her. So, wait a minute. He knelt between her legs, prodded her once with his finger, then pulled out, lay on top of her, gave her a seconds-long kiss, and slid inside? That’s not really very romantic or hot. Why did he kneel between her legs if he didn’t plan to actually do anything while he was there? Why didn’t he explore her a little more? It sounds more like he gave her a gynecological exam than that he did anything romantic or arousing. We have lots of stuff down there to play around with; things to stroke and roll between your fingers and tug and rub and pet and explore, and all of those things should produce a reaction from her, even if it’s just a vague and euphemistic one.

She was in heaven, with hot, hard velvet filling her completely. She felt his sensation, too; felt her soft, firm flesh moulding to him, holding him, clenching him tightly for long moments, felt his shiver from both inside him and inside her. See, this concept is really nice; I used it myself in Blood Will Tell. But this again is telling us what she feels, not showing us, although this is more showy than most; the second line is quite good. But you could do half a page at least on what she feels through him, how he notices all the little fissures and folds inside her massaging him with every stroke, how he’s experiencing her pleasure and it’s so intense for him, like they’re on this endless pleasure loop that just builds and builds and builds. I’m not crazy about “She was in heaven” though; it’s kind of telly, kind of cliché.

It was nearly over quickly, and that was no surprise. They stared deep into each other’s eyes again? There must be some other way to show their connection throughout, blinking slowly, sharing breath, sharing every sensation, sharing a pulse, and Jack came very close to coming after only a few minutes. Whose POV is that? Like the bit about sharing a pulse though, and there’s a nice rhythm here.

She took him in her arms and drew him down beside her. Beside her? But is he still inside her? They held on lightly, feeling the trembling subside, why is the trembling subsiding? What trembling is that? murmuring tender love. He kissed her breasts and sucked her nipple while he stroked her belly see, this should be really hot, but because we’re not feeling the heat elsewhere this just sounds awkward and down into her hot wetness, slid fingers inside her again, and she was pouring, pouring? Like a fountain around his cock? How did he get his fingers in there, isn’t he still inside her? and he spent gentle time loving her, and she jumped I get what you’re saying here, and it’s good that you’re showing her reaction, but “jumped” is a little strong; maybe gasped or jerked or twitched or something like that would work better when he found her clit and stroked it, circled it lightly, then faster and firmer and faster and firmer until she came, shuddering and gasping, her eyes wide with joy and wonder. “Clit” totally throw me out of the scene here. You’ve been so vague and euphemistic throughout, so to suddenly have clit, not even clitoris, is jarring. I don’t mind the run-on sentence at all, because sometimes you just need a run-on. This has a nice sense of urgency even if I’m not crazy about some of the wording. But her eyes are wide with joy and wonder? I don’t think I’ve ever kept my eyes wide open during an orgasm in my life. That may be just me and I’m a big freak, but it feels odd to me and doesn’t ring true.

She climbed astride and sat down on him and, oh, he was hard and deep inside her. Nice. I’d like more elaboration. How does the sensation in this position differ? Does she like the sense of being in control? Does she lean forward or back? Anything like that. She rode him slowly, then building faster and grinding harder. And how did that feel? Why did she increase her pace and pressure? They never broke their intense gaze, and it was beautiful. See, to me the staring feels creepy at this point. Is it sex or a staring contest? Plus, again, telling.

They made love all night and Jill lost count of how many times she came. She’d never imagined sex could be so wonderful, so magical, so all embracing and exquisite. This is a bit much but it’s okay. I think it would be good to have something about how she feels physically too, like she’s exhausted but more at peace than she’s ever been in her life, that sort of thing.

They lay together and watched dawn wash the shadows away, and she knew they would be together forever. I sense dark foreshadowing! Nice. Nice ending even if I’m wrong about the dark foreshadowing.

One comment to “Scene Crit 3–Critted”

  1. Charles Gramlich
    Comment
    1
    · September 11th, 2008 at 7:33 am · Link

    You definitely want to take that call from super agent man.



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