Tuesday, February 14, 2012

How To Write A Kissing Scene...Valentine Edition

The Kiss...the moment when lips meet, when senses are heightened, when hearts meld.  It is a magical thing, because women loved to be kissed They want to be wanted, desired, loved. When writing romance, the kiss is of the utmost importance.

So how does one go about writing a kissing scene? What things are important when laying out "the kiss"? There are several areas that you should consider when developing your kissing scene.

SETTING/MOOD: Setting is very important when it comes to a kiss, because it sets up the mood for the smooch. For instance, a kiss in a dark parking garage has a completely different feel that a kiss in front of a cozy fire. Include descriptive details to put the reader into the scene so that they can feel the ambiance.

DISTANCE/PROXIMITY: In order to kiss, your characters must come in close proximity. How do they come together in a way that builds tension and increases a readers need to turn the page? There has to be either conflict (a fall/rescue, locked in a room all alone) or heightened awareness/desire from both characters that moves them toward one another. Make is good. Make it count.

SENSES 1-5: This is a no-brainer. Use the five senses to ramp up the kiss.

  • Touch - Describe the feeling a character gets when their lips meet the other's. Soft, hard, yielding, demanding? Does her face feel smooth, his whiskery? Does goose bumps shimmer across her skin when he digs his fingers into her hair? What are their physical reactions?
  • Taste - A kiss can have a taste. I know that could be gross, given a character's love for garlic, but be creative. Have them taste of honey or minty chocolate. Your character could have just eaten a kiwi or an orange. Make it unique.
  • Sight - Since you are in a character's POV, describe what the other one looks like as they move in for a kiss. What gestures or facial expressions do they see? Does she lick her lips in anticipation? Does he clench his jaw or deepen a dimple? This should be the easiest sense to use, so make it good.
  • Smell - What do the characters smell like? Are they wearing cologne? Do they smell like they have been cooking hamburgers or have been outdoors? Don't forget to include the smells of the setting. What about the salty sea breeze at the beach or the fragrant  roses of the garden? Let the setting help you out here.
  • Sound - While we might not want to admit it, there are sounds when we kiss. You don't want to write about the smack or slurp that might occur, but you can mention the soft moan, quick intake of breath, shaky exhale, or a deep beat of a heart. Don't forget about the sounds of the setting. Soft rain hitting the window can set the mood up nicely for a kiss.
WRAP UP/LOOSEN UP: So what happens after the kiss? Well, if this is close to the beginning of the book, you need to have some conflict come in. Let someone walk in on them. Have one be angry with the other for crossing the line and kissing them against their will (even though they participated willingly enough in the kiss!). You have got to keep the tension going so readers will want to turn that page and see if they kiss again. 

There is nothing better than a great kiss with someone you love. I know, because I've been married to the same wonderful man for 27 years. He has given me a Valentine every day since Saturday. Chocolate covered strawberries, a date to see The Vow (sigh!), and a dozen red roses. Were there kisses involved? What do you think? ;)

It's Valentine's Day....have you had your kiss yet? 

Is there anything you would add to make a kissing scene even better? What authors write the best kissing scenes, in your opinion? Do share! 

This post is brought to you by
 Sherrinda Ketchersid

Sherrinda is wife to "Pastor John" and mother to three giant sons and one gorgeous daughter. A born and bred Texan, she writes historical romance filled with fun, faith, and forever love.


chihuahuazero said...

Nice Valentine's Day post.

Hmm...the closest I get to a kissing scene in my current project is a tender peck on the cheek. And I'm not sure if that action is going to survive revisions.

Keli Gwyn said...

Happy Valentine's Day to all the Alley Cats and friends of the Alley.

What a great post, Sherrinda. I love all the suggestions. I smiled when I read about adding taste to a kissing scene, because I used that sense in my debut novel. =)

Anonymous said...

Happy Valentines Day, all!

I appreciate this post--this is an area I need some work in. :) All your ideas are great. Susan May Warren also uses taste a lot in her kissing scenes. Great ideas!

Thanks for also giving ideas on what to do after the kiss, and to think about what might happen based on when in the story that kiss happens. :)

Oh, and yes, I've been kissed today. :)

Jessica R. Patch said...

A perfect post for Valentine's Day! Great advice. I happen to love reading a kiss written by Deeanne Gist! That's good stuff. :)

Julia M. Reffner said...

Yum on the chocolate strawberries! Awesome that you guys have been together 27 years. Great tips for including the 5 senses :)

Lindsay Harrel said...

I'm blushing as I read this at work. *sigh*

I think you covered the basics. And now I really wanna go home and give my man a big smooch. :P

Cindy R. Wilson said...

Oh yay, fun post! I love kissing scenes--good thing I read and write romance. I really enjoy upping the conflict before a kissing scene, so that either the hero or heroine or both is conflicted about the kiss but just can't help themselves :)

Susan Anne Mason said...

What a great post for Valentine's Day!!

Wonderful tips!

I love Julie Lessman's kissing scenes and Deeanne Gist's and Tamera Alexander's! Probably more but can't think off the top of my head!

Now all you need are some examples, Sherrinda!


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Whew! It has been a busy day at my day job and am just making it to the blog! Sorry. :)

I have to admit, I had EVERY intention of putting some kissing examples in, but I fell down on the job and didn't get permission from authors in time. And then I had the brilliant idea of asking the Alley Cats for some of their examples, but it was 9 p.m. last night and I didn't think anyone would respond to my request! And then I thought I would put my own, but I think I've shared all mine already.

Didn't want to bore you!

Feel free to share some of your own examples, friends!

Ruth Logan Herne said...

Pshaw. You need permission to quote people????

Shh... Don't tell!!! ;)

Sherrinda, this was wonderful! It's so easy to forget the details of the kiss the first time through, but then I love when authors layer in those soft sounds. The wind, the rain, the tree tapping along the roof, the sighs...

Oh, those sighs...


We are such born romantics that you'd think that would all come NATURALLY, but when we're kissing someone we REALLY LIKE, we don't notice a lot of that stuff... but when we read the same kiss, we DO....

The mind is a glorious place!

Sarah Forgrave said...

Oh what a fun post, Sherrinda! (And great tips too. :)) Your comments about sound cracked me up. I'll make sure to delete the slurping I had in my wip. ;)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Ruth!!! Had I known you would let me post one of YOUR kissing scenes without permission, I definitely WOULD have! MMmmmm....

And Sarah...I wanna read any of your writing that has some slurpin' goin' on! lol

Nancy Kimball said...

One of my favorite kiss scenes is in Karen Witemeyer's To Win Her Heart. She used taste, but not the way I was expecting. Kissing Eden was like tasting a miracle. He never wanted it to end. Good sense and an increasingly adamant conscience prevailed, however. I'm going to have to pay more attention to those setting details I usually chuck out the window once the kiss is imminent. Very helpful post.

Pepper said...

WOOHOOO! Great tips and great post, Sherrinda.
Love a good kiss...both fictional and nonfictional :-)

Happy Valentine's Day

Naomi Rawlings said...

This makes me want to go read a kissing scene. Sigh . . .

Unknown said...

I love this! It is very good advice. I think Veronica Roth(Author of the Divergent Trilogy) and Cassandra Clare(Author of The Mortal Instruments) do brilliant jobs for writing out kiss scenes. Read City of Fallen Angels or City of Ashes by Cassandra Clare, part of the TMI series, or read the first book, Divergent, in the Divergent Trilogy by Veronica Roth.

Natasha Brown said...

Thank you. I'm writing a superhero/romance/action/family story myself. And I'm just a twelve year old girl (who has a very big and creative imagination).

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Natasha, congratulations on being so young and knowing what you want to do in life! I know you will do well as you continue to learn and write, write, write! Can't wait to see your name in print. ;)