Because today is a day that ends with a y, I want to talk about kissing scenes. When to write them, how to lead up to them, and how many to add.
Are numbered lists sexy to anyone else? I’m going to use one for this post.
1. The kissing must accomplish something.
Warm tinglies aside, kissing scenes need to do something for the story and characters. It needs to build up — or tear down — a relationship. It needs to increase tension — or provide a release to already high tension.
I like it when they kiss as much as the next reader, but if the kissing doesn’t accomplish something besides those warm tinglies, I’d recommend against actually describing any of the kissing and just leave it with “We/They kissed and it was nice.” or whatever.
2. Sometimes the most effective kissing scene isn’t actually a kissing scene.
Remember what I said about tension? Yeah, sometimes the best thing you can do for that tension is to build it up until the reader needs the characters to kiss. To make that happen, you can add touches or glances, or maybe a moment when the characters almost kiss but decide not to, or they get interrupted.
Build on that tension, but don’t stretch it out unnaturally so that it feels false and just frustrates the reader (and characters) with its falseness. Finding the best place to increase tension and then release it might take some revising, and that’s okay. That just means you get to work on the kissing some more. (Yay!)
3. Too many kissing scenes kind of kill the tension.
For me, anyway. I mean, I recognize that maybe the characters just want to make out all the time, and that’s fantastic for them. But not every one of those kisses needs to be described in loving detail. Not to scandalize anyone, but too much stopping for kissing where we hear about every part of it? That can actually get — yes, I’m going to say it — boring. And not just because the author runs out of ways to describe how amazing the kissing is. Focus on the actual story, and time your kissing bits carefully. If the couple is happy and everything is going fine for them, relationship wise, I will assume they kiss frequently without having to watch every one. If they’re separated or fighting or whatever, I’ll assume no one’s getting kissed. Trust the reader.
The key to kissing is change. Think about how it changes your characters’ relationship, or their relationships with other characters. Kissing doesn’t have to drive the plot, but it should never distract from it.
A note: Some of you might write other kinds of stories. Sexier kinds of stories. In that case, I think you can still use this advice, substituting “kissing” for . . . you know. Whatever. *eyebrow waggle*
So, now that the word kissing has stopped looking like a word to me, what are some of the best, most effective kissing — or almost-kissing — scenes you’ve read?
Jodi Meadows lives and writes in the Shenandoah Valley, Virginia, with her husband, a Kippy*, and an alarming number of ferrets. She is a confessed book addict, and has wanted to be a writer ever since she decided against becoming an astronaut. She is the author of the INCARNATE Trilogy (HarperCollins/Katherine Tegen).
*A Kippy is a cat.