Thursday, December 29, 2011

Kissing Class 101 - From the Pros

Okay….did YOU have opportunity to celebrate Christmas with a little MISTLETOE??

Smooching by the fire’s glow?

Kissing 'neath the falling snow?

Well, if you’re lips haven’t been warmed up enough, I’ve brought a post that should do the trick!

Last year I had a special blog series about writing ‘kissing scenes’ – and some fabulous authors responded – sharing their special tips to make those tantalizing scenes lip-smacking good!

I’ve posted some highlights, so get your fans ready or a handful of snow, because it’s gonna get a little toasty inside :-)

Award winning historical author, Laura Frantz, had this to say about what makes a good kissing scene:

Hmmm…what makes a good kissing scene? Good question! First, every meeting that leads up to that first kiss should simply sizzle with romantic tension. There must be *sparks* long before that first embrace. You need to hear the reader cheering in the background for the hero and heroine to come together. Then, pour on all the sensory details you can – scent, taste, touch, sight, etc. Contrast their differences. My upcoming hero is a distillation of leather and the outdoors and my heroine of lavender water. He’s tall and hard as granite beneath her hands, she’s small and has the feel of silk. Little details like these bring the scene to life. The reader should experience that kiss right along with the fictional couple.

Historical and contemporary novelist, Kaye Dacus, says this about kissing scenes:

For me, a great kissing scene is not about the kiss itself—it’s about the emotional and intellectual tension that leads up to the kiss, especially a couple’s first kiss. The best kissing-scene writers create such an air of expectation and anxiety in the reader (and the characters) that the reader sits on the edge of her seat, every muscle tight, every nerve tingling—like a pressure cooker at full steam—waiting for the only thing that can release that pressure. Then, when the characters’ lips meet, releasing the tension, salving the anxiety, and meeting the expectation, it’s a blissful experience. And it’s one of the main reasons why I read and write romance novels!

Denise Hunter adds this:

There are many elements that go into a great kissing scene, but everything that comes before it is just as important as the romantic scene itself. Building the hero’s and heroine’s back stories and motivation, ramping up the conflicts that keep them apart, and showing why the characters are drawn to each other are crucial. No matter how well-written the kissing scene, the reader won’t be moved if you haven’t done your work leading up to it.

Renown author, Liz Curtis Higgs, had these thoughts to share:

Ah, the kiss! Anticipation is everything. Where and when and how and why the characters kiss must be chosen with care. The longer such a moment is delayed in a story, the better. Readers should sense it coming and be standing on tiptoe, waiting for that tender expression of affection. Time seems to slow down as the characters move toward each other, and every detail matters. Do their eyes meet or are they closed? Do their hands touch or does he cup her cheek? Do they simply lean toward each other or does he take her in his arms? Whether the moments leading up to the kiss are hilarious or heartbreaking, they must be emotion-packed. It’s a huge step forward in their relationship when characters kiss, so our charge as writers is to make it count!

The Kissing Queen herself, Julie Lessman, added this:

Oh, honey, there are SO many things that make a good kissing scene in my opinion, but I think one of my favorites is when there is high drama involved (such as anger, for instance, as in the scene I’ve chosen). I mean, let’s face it, as women we ALL love a man who won’t let a heroine ride roughshod over him, right? My editor likes to refer to it as the “Taming of the Shrew” mentality, which she isn’t overly fond of but I happen to like, so she does let me get away with it every now and then.

Let’s end with the lovely, Siri Mitchell:

A great kissing scene has to incorporate the personality of both the kisser and the kissee. I could envision the most wonderful of kisses and describe it in the most romantic of terms, but if it fails to respect the characters of the people involved, then it won’t produce any sighs or butterflies on the part of the reader. Like any other scene in fiction, a kissing scene has work to do. It has to move the plot forward, introduce or solve conflict, reveal character, and/or deepen a theme. That’s a lot to expect from a kiss!

Oh boy, oh boy –

SO what do YOU think makes a great kissing scene?


Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Sigh...I absolutely love kissing scenes. Almost as much the an "almost kiss" scene. I think many of the authors you listed said it already, but it is the anticipation. The romantic tension has been building and it is a tangible thing, this anticipation. It's the best, and why I love romance books!


Jeanne Takenaka said...

I'm so new at writing kissing scenes, that I don't have much in the way of suggestions to offer. What you shared here today helped me tons in understanding nuances and motivations for the kiss. Thanks, Pepper!

Susan Anne Mason said...

Great post! Love kissing scenes in books and movies! Still working on perfecting them.

Thanks for the great advice!


Susan Anne Mason said...

ps. what movie is the second picture from?

Joanne Sher said...

Suuuucchhh good stuff! I need this info.

Julia M. Reffner said...

I have no idea how to write this well. Thanks for the helpful advice. My next novel will need it :O

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Susan, I know the answer! The picture is from the last scene in North and South. If you like Pride and Prejudice, then you will like this movie. It is one of my Top 10 movies EVER!

Patty Wysong said...

LoL. I think that about sums it up for me. I want that first kiss to make me swoon. I want it to make me drop the book, sigh, drool, and dive back in to read it again. LoL. Yup. All those things mentioned in the post are what make the first kiss sooooo stinkin' good.

Bring on the romance! LoL

Mary Vee Writer said...

Pepper is not available during the day time. A few of us other Alley Cats are pinch hitting to welcome your comments.
Sherrinda, thanks for hopping in and identifying the 2nd photo movie.
Jeanne T: I am new at those kissing scenes as well. In addition to the great ideas shared on this post I find reading several kissing scenes in published books as examples then modifying for my own work a great way to start. The "learn by example" philosophy helps me a lot! Although I'm sure you already thought of that:)

Mary Vee Writer said...

Susan Ann,
So nice to have you stop by today. Yes, I think we all like those kissing scenes:)

Joanne Sher,
Pepper sure pulled out all the stops with great info today, I agree. Are you writing a kissing scene currently?

Mary Vee Writer said...

Care to give us a hint what you have in mind for your next novel?

Mary Vee Writer said...

Oh, girl, you said it all! Love those scenes:)

Naomi Rawlings said...

Oh my kissing scenes. Sigh . . . Let me go back and wallow in that post one more time before I comment . . .

I LOVE a good kiss. So what do I think goes into a good kiss? Well, I can hardly argue with the experts already quoted. But here's my two main criteria:

1). Lead up with "almost kisses." At least once, if not two or three or four times before that big moment, have times where the hero and heroine almost kiss. They stare at each other, they both want to, one leans forward, and then . . . PUFF! The moment is gone for some reason, but the reader is still aching for those lips to meet.

2). If you go into detail about a kiss (anywhere from a paragraph to a page), the kiss needs show a change and development inside the characters. A kiss is more than just a kiss. It has to be. For example, in my soon-to-release book, the characters kiss and as the kiss progresses, the heroine realizes that she feels something she hasn't felt for five years. She feels safe. So the kiss ultimately changes something inside her. That's a MUST for a good kiss.

Casey said...

Where were you with the mistletoe when I needed it last weekend????

It sure is found in this post though, what a GREAT resource. Makes one really appreciate the depth behind those puckers. ;-)

Sherrinda Ketchersid said...

Wait, wait, wait...Casey!!!!

You NEEDED mistletoe last weekend? Is there a cutie-pie that you have your eye on??????

Laura Frantz said...

Oh, this is one of my favorite posts ever;) Do I love kisses! Even after 17 years of marriage...YES! Love the insights/comments here by everyone. I think one of the most gloriously romantic things about writing is that you get to choreograph that kiss on paper and it's quite a bit like experiencing it yourself, then passing the JOY on to the reader. Godly kisses are the best...

Pepper said...

Oh boy! I thought I would miss the party, but it's still going on!
Thanks Alley Cats for welcoming our kissing-curious guests today :-)

Pepper said...

Jeanne T
Oh man, this is one of my favorite topics too!
LOVE talking about kissing scenes!
So glad it was helpful

Pepper said...

Thanks for telling Susan about North and South. WOWZERS, what a fantastic movie!!!! And the final kiss? Heaven help me, it's BEAUTIFUL!!!!

Pepper said...

Swoon-worthiness is definitely a selling feature for me too :-)

Pepper said...

Thanks! You are awesome

Pepper said...

Oh YEAH!!! I'm with you and Sherrinda, an 'almost' kiss is such a great tease for the real thing.
Thanks for your great insights.

Pepper said...

Oh man, Case
'depth behind those puckers'?
Definitely! Not only a kiss to build a dream on - but a kiss to build a story on :-)

Pepper said...

YAY!!! Laura Frantz - you are a fabulous kissing scene writer. The 'almost' kiss in the Colonel's Lady is breathtaking...and definitely makes you long for more.

Debra E. Marvin said...


Julie Lessman said...

Oh, Pep!!! Honestly, is there any better subject on the planet than kisses??? I'm with Debra ... sigh and double sigh!!

Unfortunately, I love kisses so much that I tend to "pepper" them everywhere in my books ... I simply am NOT one of those gals who can wait till the end for "the kiss." LOVED Pride & Prejudice with Keira Knightly EXCEPT if Julie Lessman had written that baby, Mr. Darcy would have finished that "almost" lean in on the porch scene in the rain with a gentle kiss and a slap. But then, I guess I am WAY more of a drama queen than Jane Austen ... :)

Great blog, Pep!


Susan Anne Mason said...

I'm with Julie. I need a lot more than one measly kiss. The more the better!

Laura Frantz said...

Okay, jumping back in here - and agreeing with Susan and others. It really, really helps to hear that readers/writers like more kisses!! In my next book, Love's Reckoning, I actually inserted 2 more kisses as there was a loooooonnnnngggg stretch of passionless prose. Thanks so much for such an interesting discussion. It really helps tremendously!