Monday, February 17, 2014

Writing Kissing Scenes by C. Lee McKenzie

C. Lee McKenzie, one of my amazing AZTechs for the A - Z Challenge, has graciously accepted my offer to share a guest post on Writing Tips today. I’ve known Lee for quite some time now, and even had the pleasure of reviewing Lee’s debut book, Sliding on the Edge. Of course, Lee’s written several more books since then. She also keeps up with her blog, The Write Game. Take it away, Lee.

by C. Lee McKenzie

Thanks for inviting me to Guest Blog, M.J.

Since Valentine's Day just happened, I thought I'd post about the kiss in love scenes.

For me and for many writers, these are often difficult to write, especially the steamy kind. And I don't mean to confuse love scenes with sex scenes at all. They are different, but love scenes do have degrees of passion. And I think the problem I have writing the more passionate ones has to do with the fact that readers so often ask me if my stories are autobiographical. 

"Not exactly, but kind of," is my hedgy answer.

And then they give me the look, and I know they're remembering something I put down in words, probably something "revealing," like that heavy petting I let that last character engage in.

Anyway, love scenes are important, and they can enhance a story when well-written. So how can you use the kiss to develop a more engaging and exciting moment for the reader.

* Since the two most important factors in a great love scene are tension and tenderness (Stein,1995), the kiss is a perfect act to capture both. 
First, postpone that kiss as long as possible to create the tension you want. If you want the guy to be simpatico and the girl interested but cautious, here's one way to show that.

Eric pulled Megan close and cupped her chin in his hand. "You are so beautiful." He leaned over her and his breath brushed her cheek.

The door opened and flooded the bedroom with bright light and the thumping beat of music from downstairs. A kid with a hoodie froze in the doorway. "Hey, sorry, man. Thought this was the bathroom." He backed out, but left the door ajar.

Megan tugged her sweater down and started to leave when Eric grabbed her arm. "Stay."

She pressed the door closed and let him gather her into his arms again. "Maybe we need to take this a little more slowly, okay."

"Okay." He held her close, resting his cheek against her hair.

* The kiss is a great way to characterize your couple.
Lena let him pull her close. His kiss started with soft pressure, then he took her lower lip between his teeth. She jerked her head back. Nobody had ever bitten her lip before. She wasn't sure she like it.

"What?" he let her go and stepped back, glaring.

* Enhance the love scene by focusing on the sensations and emotions of the kiss.
I leaned into him, feeling the warmth of his chest and the steady rhythm of his heart. His kiss came like butterflies on my lips.

Then he held me away and smiled. "I have more. Tell me when you want it."

"Now would be a good time." Then I lost myself in his kiss and this time the butterflies demanded much more of me.

I'm not a romance writer, so I have limited knowledge of this romantic scene business, but I'm practicing. Let me know what you do with the kiss in your love scenes.

Thanks again for your guest piece, Lee. And thanks to all of you for visiting and commenting on Writing Tips today. 

Oh, and don't forget to sign up for the A - Z Challenge. Lee and I will both see you there! We've also got a special post for Jeremy Hawkins there today. Be sure to read the blog and leave a comment, please.

M. J.

©2014 All Rights Reserved
Photo credit: Bleiglass, GNU Free Documentation License; US Military, Department of Defense, PD-US


  1. thanks for that great advice. i am not good at writing romance, but attempt kissing scenes gingerly, since the characters make me... sweet love!

    thanks, ladies!

  2. If I have to do another kissing scene, I'll remember those tips. I did delay my first one - it didn't happen until the end of the second book. Wait, that's probably not what you mean by delaying...

  3. I got nervous reading this! Here I am giving advice about writing kissing scenes, and they are the hardest ones for me to do.

    Thanks for letting me test out my romantic side here.

  4. That kind of intimacy can be hard to write. I have friends very good at it.

  5. I have to write my first kissing scene in my new project. Nervous about it. Thanks for the tips.

  6. Wow, so much kissy, woo woo, emotional warmth there :-)

  7. A simple kiss can be a powerful thing. However, it's when it progresses that I struggle with. Despite being an adult for many years now, I still feel my mother glaring over my shoulder, shaking her head with disapproval when I write such scenes. Hence why I rarely let it go that far and allow that powerful kiss to say all that's needed :)

    Nothing like a disapproving parent to ruin the

  8. Maybe this is why I write MG, to avoid this whole issue. :-)

  9. They can be interesting to get through indeed, nice tips!

  10. I see some of you have the same issues as I do about those scenes. Mom, Dad, even husband who might be thinking, "Where did she get that move?" I'm with Barbara. Writing MG skirts the whole issue. :-)

  11. The best response to the question, are your love scenes based on reality came from a writer whose name I don't remember, but she said, "I try to write them from reality, but the keyboard keeps sliding off his back."

  12. I like kissing scenes - such a moment of tender surrender.

  13. Kissing scenes are hard, but I totally agree about putting it off as long as possible so the reader is dying for them to finally kiss. I loved the last example with the butterflies. So romantic! :)

  14. Terrific advice Lee! Kissing scenes and love scenes are hard to write well but they are SO much fun when they work! There's nothing quite like that first 1st kiss! :)

  15. I haven't written a kissing scene yet. But when I need to, which I'm sure I will at some point, these tips are great for a novice like myself!

  16. Excellent advice. You can tell so much about a character and how they feel for the other person by the way they kiss.

  17. I just had to contend with my first sex scenes and wow, that was weird. But the kissing thing is always the hardest ... I struggle with not being too technical, I write it robotically then remove all the left this right that, then add mention of the senses. It won't just come out in one go :) I need to read more romance to be better informed, but it's not my favourite genre.

    Great tips like this help heaps! :) X

  18. Postponing is a fabulous suggestion! I find it's all about the tease and tension. And by tease, that could be tender and innocent or ... ;)

    Great post, C.Lee!

  19. Ooh! I love that. Tension and tenderness. Going to have to jot it down and refer to it every time I'm writing a love scene...

  20. @Elizabeth that is a LOL quote!

    @Diane methinks you are a romantic.

    Glad you liked the butterfly kiss. I loved them as a kid, but they can offer tender moments among adults. @Lexa

    @Jemi that first is truly memorable.

    @Bish I'm sure you will have to write one of these. Can't wait to read it.

    Thanks, @Christine. It was interesting to experiment with just how much I could do about character with kissing scenes.

    @Shah I'm not a romance reader, except for friends, and my experience with writing in the genre is zero. However, I do like a kiss or two in my stories. Those teens love love!

    @Sheri you've got it with the "or. . ." That's another angle.

    @Crystal glad I'm passing on something of help.

  21. Hi MJ and Lee - what great tips and I love the examples you gave ... I'd be very embarrassed if I had to write about a kiss ... bloggers don't have to - do they?!

    However I can see if you could break the embarrassment mould then it would make life so much easier ..

    Cheers - Hilary

  22. Good advice. It's funny that that intimate moment is so much harder to write than, say, the apocalypse.

  23. Great advice. The kissing scenes in my last few WIPs were sweet and fun to write.

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  26. Is it just coincidence that I came upon this blog post just as I finished struggling to get the tenderness and power in a kissing scene? I didn't realize it was so difficult for so many other writers to tackle the kissing scene challenge. When I read mine over, they always sound like a second grader wrote them! I guess I turn into a guilty kid when writing about passion and love. Hooboy..thanks for sharing your tips on kissing scenes. Maybe I just need more practice at kissing AND writing to do them well. Off to kiss my hubby!