How to Kiss

8 Aug

Kicking off the Month of Kisses (which is going to be amazing btw) with something to get you all thinking.

You know at the end of this there’s a contest. You know the contest on my blog is #TeamKissy, but that’s about all we’ve shared so far (besides the hint about how FREAKING awesome the prize is… which is just, so much clearer now, right?) But you don’t know what the contest is.

With that in mind, I’m going to tell you all how to win while @valeriefm80 isn’t looking….

….just kidding.

But I am going to talk about kissing and writing and doing both at the same time… No, wait. That’s not quite right. I’m going to talk about writing kissing. Yes, that’s right.

The Set Up

Unless the point is to have no set up (like Nick & Nora (which I would argue there’s external set up)) then, you’ve got to have something to bring the kiss into focus before it happens. Do the characters spend all their time specifically not kissing because of attraction, dislike, a misunderstanding? Or, have they been slowly walking toward is? Maybe they’ve met and the sparks flew.

Whatever has happened, a kiss isn’t like walking into someone on the street. It’s not just a mistake with no build.

Your kissing scene may start pages before your kiss and your build may (and probably should) start on page one…even if they haven’t met yet. What is your protags personality, physical experience, ideas about love and attraction.

A kiss should be built up to, even if the kiss isn’t “planned” or anything the characters see coming.

The Setting

Where and when a kiss happens is as important in storytelling as a kiss itself. How often have we all joked about those people who have stopped to have sex during a shootout. Yes, an exaggeration, but where and when a kiss happens says a lot — not just about the characters, but about how they feel about each other.

When I write a kiss, it typically is a mirror and a camera – It shows us each of them and the pair as a couple (even if just for that moment)…and it shows them the same thing.

If your kiss just happens because of heat and only because of heat, then you’re missing huge opportunities.

The Kiss

I’ve been thinking a lot about this lately (and I think we’ll have several authors talk about it during Month of Kisses) but it feels like to me there’s two ways to attack a kiss scene: The emotional and the physical.

Don’t get me wrong. Of course a good kiss scene needs to have both, even if the emotional is — I don’t care. I’m just kissing him because he’s hot (oh, famous.last.words.) But for me, I like my kisses to be about they why — Why am I kissing him? Why is he kissing me? How do I feel about this? How do I feel about the kiss? How does this change anything/everything/omgoshpanicpanicpai… Ok, wait. *ponders kissing scenes* *comes up with one without panic* Okay. Okay. It’s going to be fine.

Backing up. especially first kisses (not just in YA) — They’re defining moments. Here is the chance to show not just the reader, but the characters as well how they’re feeling. Kind of a emotional trial-by-fire. I’m a big believer in tbf moments 🙂

Then there’s the physical. Every kissing scene needs to have the physical. Even if it’s as little as where his hands were and his lips touching hers. You need to physically choreograph the kiss. Then there’s the hotter kisses (the physically hotter kisses, because, let’s be honest — there are some sweetly written kisses that blow your socks off because of the emotions behind them).

The Fall Out

Dun Dun Da….. He pulls away, she jerks out of his arms, they make out all night. Fall out time number one.

The next time she sees him, when he doesn’t call, when she runs into an ex, they become joined at the hip. Fall out number two.

Where are we now? Fall out number three.

Yes, all those could be wrapped into one. but what I”m saying is, you can’t have a kiss without aftermath. If you did, then what was the point? Why did you have the kiss? If I was critting for you, and I went through and I marked your scenes as “Why is this here? How does it move the story forward?” Your kiss scene would get a big X through it.

But to win at kiss writing, to really make a memorable kissing scene, you need to roll those all together. The set up, the setting, the kiss and the fall out. Without them all, it’s just knocking lips when you walk into each other on the sidewalk. I see a lot of split lips in that equation.

So, let’s discuss! I’d love to hear about a couple of things actually:

  1. What makes a kissing scene work for you?
  2. What type of kissing scenes do you like to write or read (heavier physical description or emotional description)?
  3. If you’re a writer, what do you struggle with when writing kissing scenes?

Stick around this month – You can see the schedule of amazing writers and reviews who will be talking about kissing throughout August in the blog sticky.

You know what they say — August is all about the heat!


2 Responses to “How to Kiss”

  1. Matthew Delman (@mattdelman) August 8, 2012 at 12:32 pm #

    The combination of physical and emotional attraction is what makes a kissing scene really work for me. It’s been my experience that a single kiss can change pretty much everything … so there needs to be that appreciation for both sides of it.

    I tend to like reading kissing scenes that are a bit heavier on the emotional side of things, particularly if this kiss is a long time coming. As to what I like to write — aborted kisses are a big thing of mine. I think one couple has almost kissed a total of 3 or 4 times in the course of 21 chapters.

    I tend to struggle with making sure the scenes hit the right emotional notes. Like … does it make sense for them to kiss here? How would actually kissing make them feel right now? And so on.

  2. Bria Quinlan August 8, 2012 at 12:35 pm #

    I’m an emotional-kissing-scene person too. My kisses lead to something more OR a big heartache (and in one case a minor breakdown)…because I’m mean like that.

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