Pucker Up: Writing a Kissing Scene

I’m working on a kissing scene for my young adult novel, and I did a little research on the matter. Apparently, there’s quite a bit more to a young adult kissing scene than I had originally thought.  Here’s a list of some interesting findings.

Who knew that writing kissing scenes could be so difficult? Photo By: Elizabeth Preston
Who knew that writing kissing scenes could be so difficult?
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

1. Don’t emphasize the mouth unless you want a bit of an ick factor. You would think that since you’re writing a kissing scene that you would focus on the star of the show—the mouth. Apparently, that’s not the case.  “Writing About Kissing” says that describing a mouth leads to more of a vampire-esque route than to a sweet, romantic kissing scene.

2. Engage the body. The same article advises writers to explore the body, such as the arms and hands, during a kissing scene.

3. Get into specifics. I’ve read that you want to get detailed in a kissing scene, but you need to avoid being clinical. This is where the adverbs and adjectives (ex. “gently,” “softly,” “quickly,” “cinnamon red”) come into play. Each word should add something to the picture that you are painting. Sensory details are key. Also, don’t forget about the setting. However, sometimes less is more. There’s a balance between specific description and letting the reader have his/her own imagination do some of the work.

4. Build up the buildup. In other words, play up the tension (particularly before the kiss) between the characters through body language and dialogue. Anticipation makes the reader excited and rooting for the kiss to happen. This tip speaks to the episode in How I Met Your Mother when Ted and Victoria continually almost kiss, but don’t touch lips (until the very end of the episode—sorry for the spoiler) because Victoria believes that the best part of a kiss is the part before the kiss. She’s got a point, and this leads us to . . . .

5. Pauses can be lucrative moments. Don’t forget to describe all the swirling emotions that happen during that moment of tension before the kiss.

6. There should be some reason why your characters haven’t kissed before. The reason/obstacle should be pushing the characters apart, which will allow you to explore their longings for one another. This also adds to the anticipation of a kiss.

Photo By: Elizabeth Preston
Photo By: Elizabeth Preston

7. The characters shouldn’t groan. Groaning and gushy sounds make the scene feel more erotica than young adult.  Good to know.

8. The characters should be putting something on the line. Leigh Bardugo, who wrote Ruin & Rising, states in “20 Authors Share Tips for Writing Love Scenes” that characters should have “high emotional stakes” and that there should always something for the characters “to lose.”

9. Show what the kiss means to the characters. I think that this is where the internal dialog comes in. What are they thinking? Why is this kiss special? Or, maybe why is it sub-par?

10. Don’t forget about the characters’ emotions. You’re not smushing two dolls’ lips together. You’re meshing two thinking, feeling characters. The reader wants to know what your characters are feeling inside. Are they scared, relieved, nervous, relaxed, disappointed?

11. The kiss should be earned. This means that a kissing scene should be set up by . . . well, the rest of the book before the scene. Geeze, no pressure.

12. Watch out for the scene beginning to feel weird. A kissing scene can be awkward, but not weird. Well, unless you want it to be a bad kiss. Then, I guess that it could be weird.

Works Consulted
“11 Unforgettable YA Kissy Scenes” — http://www.epicreads.com/blog/11-unforgettable-ya-kissy-scenes/

“20 Authors Share Tips for Writing Love Scenes” — http://www.mediabistro.com/galleycat/20-authors-share-tips-for-writing-love-scenes_b82726

“Best Kiss Scenes and What Makes Them Great” — http://gillianeberry.blogspot.com/2014/04/best-kiss-scenes-and-what-makes-them.html

“How to Write Kissing Scenes that Rock!” — http://www.boekwegbooks.com/2014/09/how-to-write-kissing-scenes-that-rock.html

“What About Kissing” — http://www.malindalo.com/2012/04/writing-about-kissing/


13 thoughts on “Pucker Up: Writing a Kissing Scene

Add yours

  1. Hey, ekpreston. I was passing by your post and liked what I read. I occasionally bring on guest posts from other bloggers about writing, especially about genres that I don’t write in (like YA). I’d be interested in discussing having this post as a guest. Drop me a line under my “contact me,” if you could. I’d have messaged you as such, but I don’t believe you have a “contact me” section.


  2. Lord! Aren’t you glad our brains don’t stop and actually break every action down like that! One of the best kisses I’ve ever read is in Robert Heinlein’s “Stranger in a Strange Land.” He described a kiss I would die for! LOL Very interesting post.

  3. Amen to that! I haven’t read “Stranger in a Strange Land,” but I’ll definitely have to read it now. You’ve got me curious about that kiss! Thank you, and thank you for reading!

  4. I kept trying to find a way to favorite this post but I am failing lol. I love it! Thank you so much for the tip and for the resources you used. I am in the process of writing a book and the this blog was seriously helpful!

  5. Thank you very much! I’m glad that you’ve found it helpful. Also, I didn’t even know that one could favorite a post. I hope that the rest of your book writing goes smoothly. 🙂

  6. I don’t think you can favorite a post which is sad lol. I’ll look forward to more of your posts .

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