A Kiss By Any Other Name

Katherine Longshore 6 Thursday, February 17, 2011
Would be as sweet.

Or would it?

I’ve been paying very close attention to kisses recently.  I never used to.  A kiss was a kiss.  As a child, I avoided them completely.  I remember watching “Little House on the Prairie” and screaming, “Mushy!  Mushy!” when Mary Ingalls got her first boyfriend.  And later, when I became a hopeless romantic, like Talia, I honestly just saw them as a small part of a bigger story.

But recently, I’ve been living in the mind of my teenage self.  The self that, at first, had never been kissed and wondered what it truly felt like.  And then, the self that hungered for the perfect kiss.  The one that wasn’t awkward.  That didn’t taste of cigarettes or hot dogs.  That didn’t involve a gear shift in the ribs or the suddenly illuminated porch light.  The one.

I’ve become increasingly and more vibrantly aware that some people fake it.  I know, can you believe it?  Some romantic movies are absolutely ruined for me.  The chemistry isn’t there.  The actors bodies are too close together or too far apart.  It’s not real.

It happens in books, too.

And here are some things that I’ve noticed:

  1. Kissing is not just an action, it’s a feeling.
  2. There has to be an initiation and a response. Is there hesitation?  Awkwardness?  Desperation?  Fulfillment?  Does it lead to more?  Does it lead to an argument? You, as the writer, choose what to do with this.  Or your characters do.  
  3. Internalization is good, too.  First kiss?  Yikes.  First kiss with the right person?  Yes.  The kiss that makes the rest of the world disappear?  Wow.
  4. Kissing is not just about the lips.  Yes, lips are good.  Lips are important.  But what about scent?  Taste (is there tongue?  And how do you write that without sounding pornographic?)  Eyes?  Hands?  Bodies?  Is it a leaning-over-the-table kiss?  Or a full-on-body-slam kiss?  Two entirely different things.
  5. The kiss can make or break the romance.  For me, anyway.  A kiss has to be believable to believe the chemistry between the star players.  

This is one of the great and eternal difficulties in being a writer.  Getting it right.  I can’t say that I do.  I haven’t the faintest idea if I do or not.   But I know it when I see it (like so many things, right?) and when I do, it just feels right.  It is so much easier to find what is right in other people’s work than in my own.  I know what I try to do.  And I know when I like what I’ve done.  But I guess it remains to be seen if my readers feel the same way.


I LOVE this post! Mostly because I love kissing and am particularly obsessed with writing kisses as well as reading them. I loved your "kissing points" Katy, and plan to give a look at some of my scenes with them in mind. Thanks!

This is great! I love the part about how kissing is a feeling. It totally is.

Thanks, Tracy and Yahong! I needed to remind myself how important a kiss is at the beginning of a relationship (for my WIP) and started noticing them everywhere...

I enjoyed this post. I'm not sure I could write a love scene. but a book I just finished reading, The China Garden, by Liz Berry, handled that all so beautifully that I journaled about it. In reading, I have come across scenes that are supposed to be amorous but sound laborious instead -- inch by inch "tell all". Liz Berry really captured the thrill and emotion and sensation of first love and first kiss, and I plan to go back and see how she did it if I ever have a romantic scene to portray.

A post about kissing! I love it! and yes, this is also something I think about as I write--kissing has been described a billion times and it's easy to go for the cliches, butterflies in stomach, etc. But the question is as a writer: how do I make this feel new? How do I make the reader FEEL the passion and/or awkwardness and/or wonderment of that first kiss. Sometimes I notice I get strictly mechanical: his hand went here and then teeth and tongue were placed here and here (yeah, it reads just about as romantic as it sounds!). Somewhere there's got to be the balance of what's happening and then portraying that magical intangible thing called "chemistry".

Heather -- I go through exactly the same thing when I write! At least we're working towards something fresh. And Elizabeth, I've never read The China Garden, but I'll have to look for it now. Thank you.

Post a Comment

Grid_spot theme adapted by Lia Keyes. Powered by Blogger.


discover what the Muses get up to when they're not Musing

an ever-growing resource for writers

Popular Musings

Your Responses

Fellow Musers