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Friday, July 30, 2010

Kissing Scenes

I'm back to working on Helen, in spite of the Thor trailer leak. (Seriously, the minute I opened up Helen to get back to work, THAT was when it leaked-- not during the period of time when I was already totally distracted. The universe was having some fun at my expense, I think.)

Anyway, I can't bring myself to discuss the Thor movie for two weeks straight, so today I want to talk about a particular scene that is driving me slightly demented. The First Kiss.

Now, kissing scenes in general kind of aggravate me. I hate super descriptive kissing in books. Anything that involves roving tongues delving into the honeypots of the mouth, or warring tongues, or anything like that makes my skin crawl a little bit. Normally I don't have so much of this kind of epic struggle with kissing scenes--just a passing GRARGH. I throw something down on the page and move on, come back and tweak it a bit later if needed. Mostly this involves editing out internal thoughts that have nothing to do with the kiss and distract from it. Usually I go with understatement and bare description. Maybe a little bit of lip brushing. Mostly some physical yearning in the form of drawing closer. But for some reason writing this kiss is giving me a sever case of over-thinking-it.

It's possible that my lead in is too... cute. It's possible that I just feel like the moment should mean more than it is right now. It's MOST probable that the reason that this kissing scene is giving me such a headache is because, well, it shouldn't be happening at all. Whatever the reason, the fact that I can't get through this lip-smacking and on to the next thing is driving me bananas. I figure I can't be the only person reading this blog who has trouble with writing a particular kind of scene, right?

So, my followers, I ask of you the following: (yes. really. followers and following in the same sentence.)

1) How do you write kissing scenes? Is there anything in particular about those kinds of scenes that turns you off super fast? Turns of phrase, etc?

2) What kind of scenes do you struggle with, no matter how frequently you end up writing them?

and finally:
3) ZOMG DID YOU SEE THE THOR TRAILER?! A thousand times YES, guys! go watch it if you haven't! There is a kissing scene, so maybe it is research? *goes off to view it again under that pretext*


  1. I hate lots of description on tongue, as well. Umm...eww. Keep that in your mouth for my sake or at least don't go into excruciating detail about it. My personal favorite type of kissing scene doesn't talk much about the kiss at all but what else is going on. I always try to focus on the entire body - what are the hands doing? What are the thoughts going through each person's head? How are they standing? Are eyes closed? etc. There's a lot more to kissing than just lips touching IMHO. And the threat of a kiss is even more awesome than the real thing, I think.

  2. I *hate* kissing scenes with too much physical description. I don't care what they are doing with their facial parts. I care what the kiss is doing to them internally. I've got one kiss in my novel (spoiler alert! Not really!). It was hard to write, more because the book is first person and I had to stand in the MC's bare feet and describe what it did to her. She's never been kissed before. Ever. By anyone. She doesn't expect it. She's completely off-balance afterwards, which is even more fun because she's running for her life. But I hope I set the stage through the book for the kiss to happen. I hope it's an emotional payoff for the reader. My hubby says it is, and since he's the expert on romance scenes at our house (long story involving movie choices, chick flicks go BANG and involve chase scenes, hubby flicks involve sweet romance), his opinion matters. At least to me.

    I hate writing scenes with people I don't like. Mostly my villains. I hate crawling into their heads. It's so icky inside. But if you don't get into their heads, you can't write effectively.

    I also struggle with overly emotional scenes. I usually resolve it by blowing something up or shooting someone or starting a fight.

    I think I need to watch THOR now...

  3. While I don't read it much, because I'm not into kissing or other intimacy scenes it's not that same as the writer. When I write, it depends on the type of novel. Erotica, for example, has more description and a little more tongue mentioned. But regular fantasy and such, keeping it simple is better.

  4. Yeah, when it comes to kissing and other intimate scenes I think less is definitely more. I read somewhere that the reader's imagination does a better job coming up with anything you could put into words so I like to leave it at that.

  5. Short and sweet, describing emotion and feeling, rather than the actual kiss itself. I'd be a horrible erotica or romance author.

  6. Well, I don't generally have a problem with them. I don't have difficulty writing them either, but I do tend to sway more towards what's going on my MCs head rather than the physicalness of it (if that's a word). Though I don't mind reading dirty description - ha! I guess that has to do with growing up with an exhibitionist as a mother!

  7. Every first kiss is unique, so I stress. How to make sure each action, and reaction, remains true to what we (the reader) should know about each character, as well as what we don't know. CHALLENGE.

  8. I plan to have basically no kissing or sex scenes in my fantasy novel. Romance, yes, but my readers can fill in the physical details for themselves. Lack of kissing and sex has never done Terry Pratchett any harm, after all!
    The historical novel is trickier, as it revolves around a marriage (which a lot of sex with other people preceeding it). I've written a comic flirting scene, but I think I'll have to write a proper kissing scene at some point. No sex though, that can be glossed over with a reference to the wedding night.

  9. KM: Agreed. That's what I do too. Lips touching alone is just kind of boring. For a kiss to have meaning it needs emotion behind it!

    Jaleta: I do too! I think maybe that's part of my problem with this scene, also, though I hadn't considered it until now-- I don't normally write a lot of first person, and this kiss is from the 1st person PoV.

    I kind of love writing my villains sometimes, though. :) Let me know what you think of Thor!

    Dawn: Well, I expect a little bit more description in Erotica-- but too much tongue-tracing-her-teeth or whathaveyou just turns me off super fast. Also mentions of saliva. Ew. :P

    Stephanie: I think you're right! The trick is just to give it the right emotional impact, I think!

    J.L.: Exactly! That's what I'm trying to do! it's just a struggle this time. And I don't think I'd be a very good erotica writer either! I'm okay with romance I hope since my books have a lot of romantic elements. :)

    Alliterative Allomorph: I don't mind dirty description itself as long as it is not tongue-wagging-and-plunging description :P I don't know what it is about it but it just makes me go bleh!

    Elaine: a very good point! And I think that's the other problem for me-- making it very unique and extra special for Helen. She's had plenty of bad experiences, and this one needs to counteract all of that! Definitely it is a challenge!

    Juliette: I have a good amount of kissing in my novels, and plenty of implied sex, but little of it on the page. Helen's story is hard to write without sex though, so it's been a challenge to tackle--forces me to stretch!
    I actually took the sex OUT of my one romance-ish book. ha!

    Thanks for the comments everyone!

  10. I think I rewrote my story's kissing scene like 10 times. For me the trick was getting the right balance so that it felt appropriate to the characters. I tended to write it too steamy, rewrite it boing, rewrite it again too steamy, then too boring...

    I seriously had to go pick up a stack of books I loved and carefully study how the kissing scenes worked and why. I used a few in Lauren Oliver's Before I Fall as a model, but toned down a smidge.

    Scenes I struggle with? Having the characters slow-build emotion and hold back, whether it's fighting or showing affection. My lazy, impatient side drifts toward jumping conflict and other melodrama. But I'm working on it!

  11. I already WROTE your kissing scene for you. SHEESH!!!!

    You know how I write them, though. With tons of explosions and bird flipping.

  12. Laurel: I can totally believe it! It's so hard to strike the right note. I might take your advice and go read through some of my other books for kisses that I feel are done well! Good luck with the slow-builds!

    Beast!: Unfortunately, I needed a historical knitting zombie romance kissing scene for this particular work. BUT THAT DOES NOT MAKE YOUR SCENE LESS AWESOME.

  13. I haven't written any kissing scenes, yet. I'm not sure how I'm going to write them when they come up.

    I have trouble with battle scenes. They tend to want to go fast, but there's so much to tell. It's hard to find balance.

  14. Ooo! Battle Scenes! Yeah, I have a rough time with them too. You're right, it really is a careful juggling act between information and speed!

  15. I'm writing a romance but I never seem to get the scene where my two protagonists kiss. I had to rewrite it like 12 times(no kidding) before I had the perfect scene. I mean, I can't make it too steamy 'cause I want to keep it a PG13(if there even is such a thing)!
    I also hate kissing scenes in books where they only say that they kissed and nothing else. For a good scene you have to describe everything through the five senses namely: Sight, smell, sound, touch and taste. It always works for me!

  16. I hate kissing scenes with too much description. Especially of what their tongues are doing. Descriptions of emotions are good, though. Purple prose generally pulls me out of the flow of the story. I think others will agree that some scenes are almost too painful and (let's be honest) ridiculous to read, though when done well these can be some of the most satisfying scenes both to write and to read. In short...I dislike kissing scenes. There. I said

  17. I've never been kissed and am waiting for my wedding day, so this is my little secret pleasure,! lots of detail in the kiss! but no sex, blegh!


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