I make no secret of loving first kiss scenes. In movies, books, TV–even in real life. I remember where all of my first kisses took place, because even the bad ones still had a sort of ethereal quality that doesn’t exist elsewhere. I store my first kisses like gold coins in a vault, so when I’m writing I can swim in them Scrooge McDuck-style.
Everyone has those kisses and feelings to draw from. Pieces of our own lives that felt more like magic than real life. So, how come certain kissing scenes fall flat? What makes a kissing scene stand out in that giddy, thrilling way?
For me, the scenes that hook me the most share two things–simple, almost minimalist prose and understated references to a shared history.
It’s too easy to write an overwrought kissy bit. There are so very many first kiss scenes out there in the world, and trying to find a unique spin can be frustrating. How do you say it in a way that hasn’t been said before? How can you write a kiss scene that doesn’t come off as one huge cliche? As a result, it seems like some authors end up burying their kiss in purple prose or obscuring it behind a lovely turn of phrase. Even scenes with intense build up become deflated if the kiss is hiding behind attempts at uniqueness.
For me, the unique kiss scene doesn’t usually arise out of the words themselves, but the characters’ history together. I think this seems to be part of Stephanie Perkins’ secret for crafting the ridiculously adorable kissy bits with Anna & Etienne and Lola & Cricket. Her writing is quiet, almost background noise to the story itself. It’s not overwrought or trying to be beautiful, and as a result, the kissy bits jump right off the page.
What are your favorite kissing scenes? Got any tips for writing a great kiss? I’d love to hear them!