Near Miss Kiss

16 Aug

Today we have Megan Whitmer on the blog! This girl is a riot. You’re going to be giggling through today’s whole post.


If you know me at all, you know that I love kissing scenes. Timid first kisses, insane deep kisses, fast, slow, sweet, rough—I love them. Whenever I’m stuck, I write a kissing scene. It doesn’t even matter if the scene makes sense for the story—in fact, usually if it’s a scene I’m writing just to keep writing, it typically makes no sense at all. But it keeps me going.

And my most favorite type of kissing scene? The one that almost happens, or as I like to call it, the Near-Miss Kiss.

A boy and girl are sitting on a bench outside at night, spending just a few more minutes together before he has to leave. Shreds of moonlight spill across the yard. He can’t stop looking at her, and he knows she’s noticed. If he’s going to make a move, now’s the time. He brings his hand to her face. She lifts her eyes to his, then leans into him. He runs his thumb across her lower lip, and her fingers curl through the t-shirt he’s wearing. He dips his head closer. She feels his breath against her lips.



For me, the anticipation of a kiss is almost as good as the kiss itself. Sometimes, it’s even better. Angi’s post yesterday showed us that we’d all be better off if a few kisses never happened at all. The trick, of course, is to know when enough is enough. Too many near-misses, and your reader is going to hate you (and I’m going to feel sorry for your characters.)

A couple of my critique partners have pretty strong feelings about the near-misses (Hi Dahlia and Leigh Ann!) so the balance between near-misses and full-on kisses is something I think about a lot. Here are a few rules I have to satisfy my love for the near-miss kiss without making my friends hate me:

  1. You’re allowed one near-miss before the first kiss. One. Make it good. The tension should peak and then cut off so suddenly it makes you literally ache. Later when you’re building up to the actual first kiss, the reader is already emotionally involved because on top of your fantastically hot writing skills, they’re also still reeling from the near-miss. Everything is heightened.
  2. Just because your characters have kissed already doesn’t mean there can’t be a near-miss later on. Those are even more fun because your reader already knows how sexy that kiss is going to be, so expectations are high. This only works if the previous kisses have been good ones though. Otherwise, the reader is just relieved by the near-miss…and what’s the point of that? (My goal here, obviously, is to torture my reader along with my characters. I’m a mean person.)
  3. The last kiss in the book had better be an actual kiss. I beta read a book once that had a near-miss for the last encounter between  two characters and that was too frustrating even for me. It’s like making a promise and not keeping it. A near-miss has to lead to a real kiss. Don’t make me beg for it.

Kissing is fun. It’s downright OUTSTANDING. But don’t discount the thrill of making your characters (and readers) wait, at least for a few more pages.

When she’s not writing kissing scenes, Megan spends her time playing dress-up with her two daughters, drinking absurd amounts of Cherry Coke Zero, and wishing someone would pay her to tweet. You can find her online at or on Twitter at @MeganWhitmer.

4 Responses to “Near Miss Kiss”

  1. Dahlia August 16, 2012 at 10:32 am #

    Megan, I love you so much, but your near-misses are TORTURE. Seriously, this is a level of cruelty I have the hardest time bestowing upon my characters, and this woman ENJOYS it. I can’t even. I was about to say that I don’t even write these when I realized that yeah, actually, there’s one in every single manuscript of mine, although not always with the LI. Guess no one can resist the allure of romantic tension! Great post!!

  2. Erica M Chapman August 16, 2012 at 2:36 pm #

    LOVE it!! Yes, Near-miss kisses are THE BEST. I may have a couple in my MS, yes more than one, but in my defense, they are trying to outrun killers… I LOVE your near-miss kisses and REAL kisses, Megan!!

    Great post ;o)

  3. Avery Marsh August 16, 2012 at 3:23 pm #

    Love this post, Megan. 😉 I have an almost kiss in both of my WIPs, and I can’t imagine NOT having them. I mean, all of that tension, and the suspense it builds for next time? *swoons* I did have to break rule #3 in one of my WIPs, though. I think an almost kiss can be the last romantic interaction between two previously steamy characters if you’re not necessarily going for a happy ending or if you’re trying to keep that will-they-get-back-together tension between sequels. Otherwise, smooching, please!

  4. Deana Barnhart August 21, 2012 at 10:19 am #

    I love the near miss kiss…and I also love to hate them. I agree, they must be used, but sparingly:) Great post!

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