Yesterday was International Kissing Day. Did you do much puckering up?
I’m not one for watching and reading romance, so I’m not really surrounded by fictional kissing. Strangely, this post comes at the time when the moment I’ve been waiting months for has arrived, and two of my characters in my novel are going to kiss. Maybe. I’ll see how they feel about it. But if they do, it’ll be their first kiss. I love these guys and I want their first kiss to be special, I need it to be powerful. But how do you write that well?
Over on my other blog today, I’ve compiled a short list of my favourite kisses. I learned a lot just re-watching those clips. Here are some pointers for kisses that land a punch.
- Tension – A good kiss needs tension. Whether we’ve been waiting for so long and there’s a chance it might not happen (Castle and You’ve Got Mail), or we’ve just been waiting (Serenity and Captain America), tension is good. It needs to be developed throughout with the characters as we discover their relationship. Tension gives the kiss power, even if the kiss itself is predictable, but tension alone won’t cut it.
- Individuality – What works for some characters, won’t work for others. There are different ways of kissing, and your characters will tell you how they kiss, and whether they will enjoy how their partner kisses. Reading and watching other scenes can only tell you so much, after a while you need to listen to your characters.
- Context – Is this a first kiss? I mean, a very first kiss, for one or both? Or just their first kiss? Or maybe a kiss after a big argument, or the kiss of a long distance relationship. Whatever it is, it will have an impact on the kind of kiss and the build-up (and what follows).
- Setting – Where are they kissing? Is it in public, in a dark car park, on the sofa after a glass too many? The setting will have a big impact on the mood and type of kiss. Help your reader understand the setting so that they can catch the mood.
- Get them close – How your characters wind up close enough to kiss depends on them, the context and the setting. The way you get them close enough can also rev up the tension. They can approach slow or fast, tentatively or hungrily, playfully or with wild abandon.
- Avoid clichés – One of the top writing rules, whether there are kisses or not, is to avoid clichés but this is even more important in writing. The reason I have trouble thinking of my favourite kisses is because most of them just plain make me ill. Less is more. Don’t go mad with the details, because let’s face it, yuck. Let the reader fill in the blanks.
- Senses – It can be difficult to include senses without walking into a cliché, so try to think outside the box. What is your character thinking as they go in for the kiss? Maybe there’s something remarkable, the smell of the other person can be a good one. This is something everyone can relate to, and smell can really add to the passion and longing in the kiss.
What do you look for in your fictional kisses?