What Readers See (or don’t) in Kisses

29 Aug

To me, the best part of finalling in the Golden Heart was the amazing women I met on our finalist’s loop. I’ve sucked yet another one in to guest blogging. She’s lovely and witty, please welcome Ashlyn Macnamara talking about something we alllll do when reading or watching a good story with (or maybe missing) kissing!

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Like most writers, I came to writing through reading—but not, perhaps, in quite the same way. I read, and when I couldn’t get enough of an unfinished series, I turned to reading fanfiction, which led to me writing fanfiction. Eventually it led me to writing my own original characters.

But what, you ask, does that have to do with kissing?

Simple. Like a lot of fanfic writers, I started because of kissing, or more accurately, a lack thereof.

I got my start writing Harry Potter fanfiction, and much of what was being written during what became known as the thee-year summer between Goblet of Fire and Order of the Phoenix was romantic in nature. I think it became obvious to fans of the series that the kissing would come along eventually, even if romance wasn’t a focus of the books the way it is in Twilight. Only by book four, some readers were becoming impatient.

By then, it was becoming clear something was going on between Ron and Hermione, even if they’d both rather die than admit it—or Ron would. They didn’t manage a kiss until the final chapters of the final book.

But Harry Potter fans, impatient for the tension to play itself out, envisioned their own scenarios as to how the fateful moment would come about, and they turned those scenarios into scenes and novel-length stories.

Not that the fanfic authors stuck to pairings that were strictly canon. Some paired Harry and Hermione. When Luna Lovegood showed up in the fifth book, people wrote stories featuring her and Harry. Others paired Harry off with Ron—or even his seeming enemy Draco.

I always put Harry with Ginny, because that’s where I thought the series was headed. Other fans, less than enchanted with the final pairings, turned to fanfiction to get their fix of their favorite couples.

What can a writer take away from all this? That readers are voyeurs? Possibly. That we enjoy reading about that kind of thing, even in a series where romance isn’t the main focus? Yeah, I think you can say that. How about this: readers are sensitive to the various tensions between characters (whether or not the author intends romantic tension), and they look for pay-off. They anticipate. They savor it enough to write their own version if they have to.

So throw your readers a bone or two, I say. Give them the tension they crave, if not a full-out, on-screen lip-lock. Kissing doesn’t have to be the focus, but you can’t deny it adds spice.

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Ashlyn Macnamara lives in the wilds of suburbia outside of  Montreal with her husband and two teenage daughters. When not writing,  she looks for other excuses to neglect the housework, among them  knitting, reading, and wasting time on the Internet in the guise of  doing research.

Her Regency romance A MOST SCANDALOUS PROPOSAL, will debut next February.

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4 Responses to “What Readers See (or don’t) in Kisses”

  1. Kristen Koster (Kaige) August 29, 2012 at 11:23 am #

    Great post, Ashlyn!

    My DD is hip deep in fandom mania these days. Wish I could say it was only fanfic, but it’s moved to cosplay and online roleplay as well (which is a kind of fanfic, I guess), but the amount of ‘shipping’ she talks about is insane. Voyeurism? I’m not so sure especially after reading about the studies where reading lights up the same centers in the brain as doing. However, I think I prefer her vicarious experience to the potentially more hazardous first hand ones. =)

  2. Bria Quinlan August 29, 2012 at 11:29 am #

    Really? What’s her cosplay move? *PICTURES! PICTURES!*

    I love books that make you want to stay in that world. I have other opinions about writers making millions off someone else’s story, plot and characters tho ;) #justsaying

  3. Ashlyn Macnamara August 29, 2012 at 12:29 pm #

    Oh Bria… I have the feeling we share those opinions. I may have written fanfic, but I never made a dime off it and would never dream of crossing that line.

    Kristen, I was trying to keep the fandom terminology out of it, but shipping. Oh yes, I know about shipping. Shipping can lead to all kinds of crazy in a fandom. I’ve seen it first-hand. I hope your daughter continues to have fun with it.

  4. Darcy August 29, 2012 at 9:12 pm #

    Wonderful post, Ash! Fun to hear where your writerly roots stem from. I should have guessed Hogwarts! And wholeheartedly agree, fiction is best served with a dash (or heaping dollop) of cayenne ;-)

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