A few weeks ago, I tweeted this:
Almost immediately, I received a tweet back from the talented Mia Siegert, author of the upcoming YA novel JERKBAIT, who asked me for some tips. Not one to ever say no to a fellow author, nor keep my mouth shut (ever), I responded with a rapidfire of tweets. Then I decided with Valentine's Day soon approaching that maybe this would make a great blog post, so here goes.
Top Tips for Locking Lips:
1. Overdo it: When I was writing MIDWINTER I was working on a (spoiler alert!) kissing scene and it just wasn't working. Put head here, move mouth there, place hand A onto arm B - BORING!!! So I searched the internet and found some advice (sorrry I can't remember the source) that when writing kisses to go for it. It's always easier to dial down the heat than turn it up. Sounded logical, so I tried again and continued on with the story. Months later, I'm editing in a coffee shop when I come across that scene. Not even half way through and my cheeks were redder than the Starbucks holiday cups and twice as warm. It was over the top and needed to be rewritten, but for the first time the scene had what I was looking for - spark!
2. The Little Things: You've heard One Direction talk about so it must be true, it's the little things that make the biggest impact. Give your kissers quirks to make them memorable.
In highschool I was fortunate enough to have one really epic kiss. One of those kisses you think only exist in great books and Nicholas Sparks movies. But the one thing about that kiss that I remember clearer than anything else is the smell of pink wintergreen mints. The guy had been eating them prior to the big moment and to this day everytime I get a whiff of them, I'm an awkward swooning 17 year old again. Everybody has lips and it's expected that they will be in the kiss somewhere, but what about how a hand brushes someone's chin, or how their left knee shakes, or the cute, contented sound they make deep in their throat? Find the little things that make that kiss unique for that couple or in that moment to make it stick with a reader.
3. Matchy Matchy - Intimate moments can tell a reader a lot about a character, so the way a character kisses needs to match their personality or you need to have a strong reason why it doesn't (ie. macho character is really a teddy bear at heart), or the scene will feel unrealistic. Make it personal (see "The Little Things" above), and the reader is more likely to buy in.
A kiss also needs to match the story. Is it paced properly? You can't have a ten minute romantic make out session while the opposing army is charging. And what are the characters feeling? Is there urgency? Anger? Is one character more into this kiss than the other? The best kiss in the world can kill a scene if it doesn't match the circumstances of the story.
4.Get in the Mood: Just as your characters need to be feeling it, it helps if you are too. Play your favorite love songs, watch some great kisses on Youtube, practice **wink, wink**. Do whatever you need to do to get into that head space.
5. Have Fun: I don't know about everyone, but I love to write kissing scenes because they're fun. You can mess with your characters and tug at your readers and generally whip up a whole pot of drama soup. Kisses can be funny or heartfelt, a slow build or completely spontaneous, clumsy or perfect, but they always change the game. Experiment with different techniques. Write, then rewrite, then change it up again. If you enjoy it, the reader will too.
Anyone else have tips for great kisses? Who's your favorite literary kiss?