On Kissing (I Think Deeply About Making Out so You Don’t Have To!)
My first round revisions for MIDNIGHT THIEF involved ramping up a romance arc. Specifically, this required MOAR KISSING.
And it was kind of difficult.
Okay, okay, I know this is hard to believe, given the hot and heavy action MIT neuroscientists get on a daily basis, but really truly, it was. Maybe it says something about me that I wrote five unique fight scenes in my novel, but by my second kiss scene, things were already starting to feel repetitive.
(Those tempted to explain in the comments section exactly what that says about me, do so at your own risk. Did I mention that I write a lot of murder scenes? :-P)
So I spent a week brainstorming one or two kiss scenes per day and rejecting them one after another. It was incredibly hard work, and definitely interfered with my day job. Here I was in lab, trying to run my data through another analysis, and then I’d start thinking about the latest version of THE KISS, and what INTREPID HEROINE and HOT LOVE INTEREST were thinking, and whether they were standing close to each other or far, and just what exactly is that look in his eyes and whether her heart was beating faster…
Anyways. Very annoying, and SERIOUSLY INTERFERED WITH MY SCIENCE.
Since I had to suffer through all that, I thought I would share the lessons I learned about writing kiss scenes. (Plus some shoutouts to some fellow 2014 debut authors who shared their own tips).
1. Employ All the Senses.
What does the HOT LOVE INTEREST look like? Smell like? If it’s cold outside, does your viewpoint character feel cold, or does she feel warm despite the weather? Are the two of them close enough to be touching? What about taste?
2. It's All About the Emotions
The emotions are just as important, if not more important, than the physical actions. To quote Jenny Martin, “Some bad love scenes feel like biology 101.” It's the emotions and context behind a kiss – the history between the kissers, what it means, how it makes them feel – that’s what makes the kiss interesting and unique. In fact, you can take the exact same set of kissing actions, change the thoughts behind them, and it becomes a completely different kiss.
3. Kissing is Pacing Dynamite.
If you want to characters to kiss, be prepared for tension in your story to change drastically. If a kiss comes out of nowhere, it introduces tension, uncertainty, and angst. But if your characters have been flirting since Chapter 1, a kiss will probably release the tension -- perhaps too much. Jessica Corra adds, “Kissing is great for tension, but you also have a certain catharsis or release once chars finally do it. You can play with this by varying your kissing - interrupted make out, a single chaste kiss, indecision on where to go from the kiss, etc. “
and finally, one last bit of advice from Julie Murphy...
4. Make sure your characters brush their TEETH.
Now readers, what about you? Do you like (to write about) kissing? Any tips?
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