I am amazingly lucky to be able to tell you that not only is Sara Ramsey’s writing super fun, but so is Sara. She’s a lovely person and a talented writer. I’m so glad to have her here kicking off our first week of writers *waves another thanks to last week’s reviewers*) for the Month of Kisses!
Thanks for inviting me to blog, Bria! I must admit, though, that I deeply regret accepting this challenge. Writing a couple’s first kiss scene stresses me out so much that even writing a blog post about first kisses had me panicking and procrastinating all day. How embarrassing is that?
For romances, whether they are traditional romances or YA, that first kiss is crucial — it’s no wonder they give me ulcers. A first kiss is a declaration. It says, in no uncertain terms, that one or both characters recognize some potential between them, some connection that they want to explore. It usually forces the characters to acknowledge that even though there are seemingly insurmountable obstacles standing between them and happiness, they are helpless to control their attraction to each other. It’s a little piece of fantasy for a reader, and it’s fun to imagine being so swept away by someone that you forget everything else — a rare, magical us-against-the-world feeling that so many of my favorite romances seem to capture.
That first kiss has to serve many functions. In a traditional romance (one with a happy ending for the couple, whether it’s YA or adult), it has to get the reader to care about and cheer for the couple. It has to increase the emotional and sexual tension and convince the reader that this is a story they want to follow. It has to entertain. It has to make the reader feel something — perhaps remembering her own first kiss, or dreaming of a first kiss with a perfect partner. And it has to come at exactly the right point in the book — not too early, or the characters look like they’re crazed by instalust, but not too late, or the reader begins to feel ripped off by the author throwing artificial obstacles in to keep the couple apart.
When a first kiss is well written, it shows the reader something beyond just a bit of passion or exploration. It goes deeper than that, into the hearts of these characters, and reveals the first glimpse of the love that might exist for the two of them if they can overcome whatever external obstacles stand in their way. And while the kiss might not be perfect (comedy gold!), or might get interrupted by overbearing guardians, or might lead directly into something more passionate, that first kiss is an opportunity for us as readers to see whether a couple has some spark that will make us follow their love story all the way to the end of the book.
Is it any wonder that I love reading first kisses, but hate writing them? I’m curious to know your opinions — what makes a first kiss work for you? Are there any first kisses that make you stop reading the book? Please share your thoughts in the comments!
Sara Ramsey reads too many novels, drinks far too much caffeine, pays excessive attention to fashion, and is inordinately proud of her bad taste in music and movies. Her second book in the Muses of Mayfair trilogy, SCOTSMEN PREFER BLONDES, came out in April 2012. Sara is currently living the hip Regency writer life in San Francisco, California. You can find her online at http://www.sararamsey.com, or on Twitter at @sara_ramsey.