About Kissing Scenes

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?


18 Responses to About Kissing Scenes

  1. Gwen Cole Oct 9 2013 at 3:24 pm #

    I totally agree with you!! Too many kissing scenes (I think) ruins a book. There’s a series I actually stopped reading because there was just too much kissing. (And not the good kind of scenes like you described because I love those SO MUCH) Yaaay for this post! 🙂

    • jodimeadows Oct 10 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Ack, that’s a shame about having to stop reading it. But yeah, when the book stops everything for kissing . . . that’s not cool either.

  2. Erin L. Funk Oct 10 2013 at 1:23 am #

    This is a such a timely post for me. I was just saying to my husband tonight that my story has too much kissing in it. He really didn’t know how to respond to that (of course). Your POV on this is really helpful, and I’ll have to keep it in mind when it’s time for revisions. As for one of the most effective “almost kissing scenes” I’ve read, I don’t want to say anything spoilery, but I will say that Maggie Stiefvater wrote it. Thanks for sharing this awesome post!

    • jodimeadows Oct 10 2013 at 9:14 am #

      Haha, yeah, it’s a hard thing to respond to! But I’m glad you spotted it. Well done! I hope your revisions go well on the manuscript!

  3. Anna J. Boll Oct 10 2013 at 11:25 am #

    I think my favorite part of this post was the *eyebrow waggle* 🙂 In this post, crying can also be substituted for kissing. No one wants to read a protag who cries at the drop of a hat. I agree, big emotion needs to move the character and the plot forward. Ingrid Law does this especially well with Mibs in Savvy.

    • jodimeadows Oct 10 2013 at 8:44 pm #

      Hahaha. I actually dithered on whether to put that part in there, so I’m glad you said something!

      I totally agree about crying! It has to matter when it happens.

  4. Sandy Oct 11 2013 at 5:36 pm #

    I was struggling to remember a book with a kissing scene I loved and was having trouble (awful memory over here). My favourite part is the build up to the kiss, the UST as people call it now a days (unresolved sexual tension) and one of my favourites has to be the recently read Lips Touch Three Times by Laini Taylor. Three short stories all with kisses that had great build up.

    • jodimeadows Oct 12 2013 at 12:46 pm #

      Oooh, yes, I’ve heard great things about that one, but I haven’t had a chance to read it yet! I really loved her writing in Daughter of Smoke and Bone, though!

  5. Anna Oct 12 2013 at 12:10 pm #

    I just read Holly Black’s The Coldest Girl in Coldtown, and loved the kiss in the alleyway — which worries me about myself, slightly.

    My favourite not-kissing scene is in Persuasion, when Anne reads Wentworth’s letter. It makes me all weak at the knees every time.

    • jodimeadows Oct 12 2013 at 12:47 pm #

      Ahh! That one is on my (overflowing) TBR. I can’t wait to read it.

      And YES, that PERSUASION letter. Ugh. I love it.

  6. Bonnie @ A Backwards Oct 13 2013 at 8:19 am #

    *kiss, kiss!*

    Recently, I remembered how much I loved the first kiss between Rachel and Logan when I re-read CJ Redwine’s DEFIANCE before reading DECEPTION. I love the more unusual kissing scenes!

    Or, yes, the build…like ANNA AND THE FRENCH KISS…because, really, just kiss already!!

    • jodimeadows Oct 13 2013 at 8:16 pm #

      Ohhh, yes, CJ writes some amazing almost-kiss and kissing scenes! And I agree about ANNA! Loved that book. 😀

  7. Alexa Y. Nov 6 2013 at 3:18 am #

    I love that you wrote a post about kissing scenes Jodi! And I completely agree with your thoughts. While I love a good kissing scene as much as the next person, I do think it’s necessary that the scene seems fitting AND serves to move the story further along at the same time. Sound advice!

    • jodimeadows Nov 6 2013 at 10:14 am #

      LOL! I mean, you know me, right? 😀

      Yay, glad you liked the post! 🙂

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