The Power of a Glance

I'll be teaching my sexual tension workshop, Turn Up the Heat! in October for Celtic Hearts. Here's a small excerpt from it. As part of the workshop, I present the 12 Steps to Intimacy and eye to eye is the second step.

"The power of a glance... It is in this way that love begins, and in this way only... Nothing is more real than these great shocks which two souls give each other in exchanging this spark." Victor Hugo

The eyes are the mirror (or window) of the soul is an old Yiddish proverb which I feel is true. You can usually look into someone’s eyes and tell exactly what they’re feeling, sometimes even what they’re thinking. The eyes are so incredibly expressive, some more so than others. People can also erect an emotional wall and make their eyes express no emotion. (Don't you hate it when the hero does that?) :)

I once heard someone say (I can’t remember who now) that a man who is attracted to or loves a woman spends more time looking into her eyes than anywhere else, especially at the beginning of their relationship. This is to gauge her expressions and emotions. Did she like or dislike what he just said? This is the way he reads her. He can tell if she’s happy, angry, afraid or aroused and this will determine his next move. Naïve people are usually easier to read than experienced people.

When two people meet who are instantly attracted, something passes between them with the first meeting of the eyes. This phenomenon has been described in many ways: a spark, awareness, love at first sight, lust at first sight, lightning, magic. When writing, it's easy to fall into cliches, but describing this wonderful first glance in a memorable, unique way is important for your characters and your story. I bet you remember a first glance when you met someone you were instantly attracted to. Please share if you would like!


Workshop info: Turn up the Heat! Heightening Sexual Tension and Sensuality in Your Manuscript
by Nicole North
Editors want to buy spicy-hot romance stories now more than ever before. How do you do it? In this class we will discuss all aspects of sexual tension and sensuality and how they relate to the developing romance in your story. You will learn tips for successfully building sexual tension over the course of the relationship between the hero and heroine, from first glance, through climax, to happily ever after. Several examples will be used to illustrate different nuances of hot romantic chemistry and how to employ them in your own story. Learn how to avoid clichés and use sexiness in fresh new ways. Strengthening sexual tension will take your story from ho-hum to so hot and delicious your reader can not put it down. We will do exercises for hands-on learning. (Please be aware this course contains explicit and frank discussions of sexuality.)**Topics covered**
Using the five senses more effectively
Sexy talk
word choice
First kiss
First love scene
How to rebuild sexual tension after sex
Why point of view is important
Hot characters
Combining physical attraction and emotion
Body language
Differences between romance and erotic romance
Revising to make a sensual romance manuscript spicy or eroticFun Extras
Visual inspiration
Multimedia examples and exercises

To read what students thought of this workshop, please visit and click on my workshops page.


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24 Responses
  1. Emma Leigh Says:

    Loved it. The eyes certainly can tell a whole story.

  2. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks Emma! You're right about that!

  3. Wonderful insight, Nicole. I love the Victor Hugo quote. You may know the Irish proverb - When sight leaves the eye, love leaves the heart. Good luck with your workshop!

  4. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks, Pat! I hadn't heard that Irish proverb. I wonder what it means exactly? :)

  5. I suspect it has something to do with the ability you mentioned to gauge another's reactions. So much of what we feel is sensed visually. I wonder how hard it would be to write a love story with one of the characters being blind.

  6. Nicole North Says:

    There are some romance novels published with blind characters. Seems like it would be hard to write, especially since I'm a visual person. For reactions, I think they'd have to go more on tone of voice or how someone touches them. Which is what I sometimes use for scenes in the dark.

  7. Great post, as always, Nicole. The eyes are the window to the soul and always the first thing I notice about a person. Flat, empty eyes are a red flag. Laughing, mischievous eyes always appeal.

  8. Cameo Brown Says:

    I remember reading a romance years ago in which the main character was a blind man. He ended up saving the heroine more than once because he had adapted so well living without sight. I can't remember how the author handled gauging his reactions, though. Interesting thoughts and great post!

  9. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks, Gwynlyn! I agree. I always notice the eyes first.

  10. Nicole North Says:

    Sounds interesting, Cameo! Just remembered, I read a book not too long ago where the heroine was blind, but it wasn't really obvious for a long while because a lot of the story took place in the dark or at night. And then she got her sight back about midway. Really interesting and well done novel.

  11. Nicole,

    I know I enjoyed your class back then. I'm with Gwynlyn---if I don't like what I see in the eyes, I don't bother looking at the rest. It's the eyes of killers that have the 'fish eyes.'

    Now to talk about your question with relation to my DH, he didn't glance; he STARED and had been looking before I looked his way. I remembered vaguely that some guy was looking at me, but was interested in the class I was taking and so it came as a surprise to later learn that he'd been talking about me in the back of the class with his friends while I sat in the front seat, intent on the class. Talk about nerdy, huh?!

  12. Nicole North Says:

    LOL! Too funny Julie about the nerd comment. :) You were interested in higher learning. A lot of times men do stare when they see what they want. Definite body language that he is interested and wants you to know it.

    I'm a sucker for blue eyes. So this was the first thing that drew me to my DH. He has beautiful bright blue eyes.

  13. Yeah, I guess he did see what he wanted. We were married in 4 months. At the time, I had told him that he was annoyingly persistent. Now I tell him he's persistently annoying!! Got to love a man who can take a joke.

    Blue eyes are nice, but my DH's eyes are a forest green.

  14. Nicole, eyes are so important in a relationship. My husband has beautiful light/bright blue eyes also. On our first date I asked him if he was wearing blue contacts! He very indignantly denied it. LOL Our older son has the same color of eyes as DH, only he has sort of yellow sunbursts in the middle which give him a greenish center - very beautiful and unusual. Some girl's going to melt looking into those eyes some day!

  15. My eyes have that too! Weird. I knew this lawyer once who used to think that everyone who had yellow in the center of their eyes were actually descendants from Atlantis.

  16. Julie, ha - that could be my son. He's a blond-haired, blue-eyed, southern Cal beach boy - loves to surf and boogie board, has been involved in jr. lifeguards for two years and wants to be a lifeguard cadet and eventually a lifeguard - Atlantis indeed!

  17. Carol, it does kind of make you wonder, eh? My son was a lifeguard since he was old enough to be one and before that he volunteered with teaching swimming. Unfortunately, in Louisiana, we don't have that beautiful ocean you have. So chlorine will have to do.

    He used to want to swim in our muddy, deep pond in the back yard, but not when our neighbor was sight-shooting water moccasins while they slithered across the water. Nope. No way!

  18. Oh, from the description, Carol, your son sounds so huggably-cute!

  19. Julie, see for yourself. About five posts down - Back From Yellowstone - he's the one in the middle at the Old Faithful Geyser sign (my younger boy's a blond-haired, blue-eyed cutie too!).

  20. What a cutie! I'd show you my son's pic, but for some reason, my name isn't showing with my picture. My DH did something to update the computer and it looks like I lost a few things. Our picture does come up when I comment on Facebook, though. He's giving me a ride on a dirt bike for Mother's day this year.

    I read the post and your trip sounded great. My parents were just there. Now they're at the Grand Canyon. They love their RV.

  21. Sounds like an awesome workshop! And i so agree eyes tell so much. I especially love it when you catch them looking when they think that you are unaware. Those times say the most.

  22. Nicole North Says:

    I like green eyes too, Julie. It's fun to give different heroes different color eyes to show what's appealing about each type.
    I bet your eyes are beautiful too, Julie.

    Persistently annoying. LOL!!!

    And thanks for what you said about my class!! Glad you enjoyed it!

  23. Nicole North Says:

    Carol, that's funny about you asking your husband if he wore contacts. LOL! My eyes are dark, dark brown so light blue eyes always fascinated me. I even end up with blue-eyed pets most of the time.

    Those yellow sunbursts in the center sound beautiful! The girls will oohh and ahh over him. He's a cutie! I've seen a few people who have two colors like that in each eye. Light brown and green is another combination I've seen. Or brown with a yellow sunburst.

  24. Nicole North Says:

    Thanks Esme! Yes, that can give you a shiver if you catch him looking when he doesn't know. :)

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