….even if you’ve already written dozens of them. Today is a guest blog by romance writer Devika Fernando on the art of writing a great kissing scene.
“A kiss is a secret told to the mouth instead of the ear.” – Ingrid Bergman
When some people find out that I write romance novels, they ask me, “But isn’t it all the same? Boy meets girl, they fall in love, there’s an obstacle, and then they overcome it to enjoy their happily ever after.” My answer to this is always a resounding NO. No two love stories are the same – and I have the same answer for those who ask me whether after a while, writing kissing scenes or other intimate scenes doesn’t get boring or complicated after a certain number of books. No, it doesn’t. There are ways to make a kissing scene special, even in a way unique.
1. Kissing: Make it about the characters, not just about physical attraction
Sure, such scenes are first and foremost about the physical aspect, the actual lip-locking and touching and whatever may follow the kiss. But like in real life, no two kisses are the same and no two people are the same. As a writer, you know your protagonists. What they like and don’t like, what they tend to think and do. So how would they feel in this situation? How do they approach it and how does their character translate into their ‘kissing technique’? Paying attention to their feelings ensures that there’s something personal about each scene. Maybe it’s a quirk they have, a gesture or word they use often. Maybe the heroine is a lot shorter and has to rise on her tiptoes? Maybe the hero likes to nip and bite a bit?
2. Kissing: Include all the senses
A kissing scene is the perfect way to bring into play all the senses and thus also awaken all the reader’s senses. It’s not just about touching. Mention the taste, the smell. Do they inhale the other’s scent, familiar or unfamiliar? What’s their unique flavor, influenced by food and drink or not? Or maybe it’s something abstract? Maybe the kiss tastes like forbidden desire or like coming home or like a comfortable evening by the fire? And don’t forget the sounds…those that the protagonists might make, such as a low moan or a whispered word, and those that might or might not surround the couple. Body movement is important, too. Who touches whom where and how, and how is it connected to the kiss?
3. Kissing: Mention the feelings
To me, the biggest reason why each kiss is different and should therefore be written differently is the emotional background. Is it a passionate lip-lock? The first kiss the couple is sharing? Is it tentative, fumbled, fierce, gentle, restrained, slow but intense, perfunctory or playful? Why is it like this? What do the characters feel before, during and after the kiss? How do their feelings express themselves in terms of their body language, their reactions, and their way of kissing?
4. Kissing: Set the scene
And let’s not forget about the before and the after: setting the mood for a kissing scene is just as important and offers so many possibilities that surely there will be no boredom or repetition. Are they holding hands? Getting closer? Where are they? Are they undisturbed? There are also ways to turn up the heat or keep it sweet, depending on the genre and writing style. Often a protagonist will notice things before the kiss, like faster breathing, the other person’s proximity. Or they’ll let their eyes linger on the other one or touch before they go in for the kill. Those details set the kiss apart and also make sure that it isn’t just the whole “wham, bam, thank you, ma’am” kissing activity itself. The same holds true for love scenes.
All of this can basically be summed up in a nutshell: make each kissing scene a part of the story and involve your characters’ uniqueness in it.
Visit Devika Fernando over at her website at Devika Fernando.
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This post was written by Julie Tetel Andresen