Are your characters stuck at first base? Maybe you’ve been trying for months to create tasteful romantic tension, but your revisions seem to be getting tawdrier instead.

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Time: 18:00 to 20:00

Duration: 9 March, 2023

Location: Atwater Library and Computer Centre—1200 Atwater Avenue, Westmount, Quebec View map


“One stroke of lightning does not have to lead anywhere, but to the next stroke of lightning.”

– Alice Munro

All levels are welcome. Limited to 12 participants.

Are your characters stuck at first base? Maybe you’ve been trying for months to create tasteful romantic tension, but your revisions seem to be getting tawdrier instead. Love and sex in fiction are challenging to write: We’re striving to find the perfect chemistry between voice, language, pacing, plot, and setting, and the measurement of each is never the same from one situation to the next. Just as it takes time in real life for intimacy to grow between people, it takes more than a few lines in a short story or pages in a novel to develop genuine narrative intimacy.

This workshop will provide participants with creative and technical tools to write anything from smoldering eye contact between strangers on a subway to harrowing mid-novel breakup sex between critical characters. We’ll look at a variety of print and digital media, and everyone will be encouraged to act as a reader as well as a writer—that is, to share ideas and offer constructive feedback. Participants will leave the workshop with an expanded, specialized lexicon and the confidence to know when to be nuanced in their writing and when to be explicit.

This workshop is not a genre “how-to” for romance or erotica, but a fun, holistic survey of tools and techniques writers can use to craft believable and compelling intimacy in any fictional context.

Workshop Breakdown

Weeks 1 & 2: “Love You Like a Love Song”

We’ll start by sharing a bit about ourselves with the group—why we’re here, what we hope to get out of this experience (and bring to it!), etc. Then we’ll look at examples of commercially successful writing about love and sex, and puzzle over why they’re so successful or were so successful in their times.

Weeks 3 & 4: “Fifty Shades of What Did You Just Say?!

At some point, perhaps we’ve felt a little silly (or even laughed out loud) while watching or reading a love scene—especially a poorly crafted love scene. Weeks 3 and 4, we’ll look at examples of sexy writing gone bad and indulge in writing some cringe-worthy passages of our own.

Weeks 5 & 6: “The Language of Love”

Now that we’ve explored the more commercial, general-appeal side of love and sex scenes, it’s time to explore what works for us—as individuals and as writers trying to set a specific tone. We’ll look at passages from some of the literary bosses to help us see what a scene needs to be not only “sexy” but also intimate.

Weeks 7 & 8: “Your Voice”

Whether you’re working from a blank page, picking up where you left off months ago, or embarking on a total rewrite, weeks 7 and 8 will be all about using the momentum you’ve gained so far to help you write toward your goal.

Workshop leader

For more than 15 years, April Ford has helped at-risk youth, college students, community groups, and non-traditional learners explore their passions and aptitudes for creative expression. Her fiction, creative nonfiction, and poetry has appeared in journals in Canada, the U.S., Mexico, Germany, and Scotland. She is the recipient of a Pushcart Prize for her short story “Project Fumarase,” and her debut novel, Carousel, is forthcoming in Spring 2020 with Inanna Publications.


Registration for this workshop is now closed.

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