Animation by Kayelle Allen at The Author's Secret

Saturday, September 1, 2012

With love and - that first kiss...

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As romance writers, that first kiss is one of the major milestones we build up to in our stories and it's what romance readers expect and look forward to.  It has to be written sensitively, convincingly and sexily to be a satisfying experience for the reader and, if I'm honest, it's not something I'm entirely comfortable about writing.

How many different ways can that first kiss be written and still sound original and convincing?  These days I often feel when reading that the kiss is just a preliminary to the more important business of the sex act.  The slow build up is no longer acceptable to many modern readers because in Soaps and films two people no sooner meet and like each other than they are in bed and declaring undying love and even, in that post-coital haze, contemplating marriage…followed almost immediately by a cold blast of reality. 

This isn't for me because as I've said all too often, I prefer to leave the bedroom door closed and let my lovers get on with the fun bits without my help.  But the kiss is my responsibility and I fret over it like a mother hen with her chicks.  It's so important to get it right that sometimes (I now realise) I cheat and overwork it or simply work around it.  The one thing I do know is that it shouldn't be formulaic, that every first kiss in every story needs to make the reader go "aahhh" and remain memorable.

Photo credit: via photo pin cc
They say all women remember their first boyfriend, their first date, their first kiss, their first…well you get my drift.  They don't necessarily all involve the same person - they certainly didn't with me.  My first proper kiss was incredibly awkward and clumsy because I had no idea what to do.  I'd seen chaste kisses and people apparently giving each other tonsillectomies in films - but, at 15, no one had taught me the right way to kiss.  Consequently I probably behaved like Doris Day's maiden aunt.  I know I didn't particularly enjoy the experience and decided to leave it a while before repeating it.  Just as well really, because I never heard from the boy again.

There is one kiss which happened about ten years later that became my yardstick for the perfect first kiss and when I feel that first kiss scene posing difficulties, I remind myself of the sheer romance surrounding this particular milestone in my life and try to inject a little of that magic into the scene.  I can't claim always to succeed, however.

In my first story, 'The Apple Tree', I certainly didn't do Juliet any favours when the gorgeous Nicholas first kissed her.  It should have been wonderful.  She had been wanting it and willing it to happen but, as usual, misread the signs and turned the moment into something awkward and embarrassing, so that it passed almost without her comprehension and she was left to relive it in her memory later to truly appreciate the moment.  She provided me with the excuse to gloss over the occasion rather quickly.
"And before she could open her mouth too far to protest, his lips found hers and invited them into an altogether more pleasurable occupation.  Her resolve melted in an instant at the touch of his softly sensuous mouth, though not before the thought had crossed her mind that the fragment of poetry he had just quoted had, coincidentally, come from Shakespeare."

I can't say I'm especially proud of that kiss and in future blog posts, I thought I'd reveal how my first kisses progress through my subsequent novels (and I like to think they do), I'd love to hear what you remember of your first kiss or how you go about dealing with this romantic moment in your writing.  Is it painful, or purely pleasurable?

With  and xxx 


Sue Perkins said...

I was six and so was he. Then he left me as his parents moved to Hong Kong. How inconsiderate to first love feelings. That's true but the first grown up kiss was when I met my husband. His kisses made me forget where I was and put me on another planet.

ManicScribbler said...

Ah, well, I have to agree that kisses at six are very sweet indeed. I didn't count mine, which was a shame really, because it was actually far nicer than the one I experienced at 15!
But oh, how nice to hear about your grown up kiss. So happy for you that you married the man who could transport you to other worlds with a kiss. *sigh* Very romantic.
Thanks for sharing.

Paula Martin said...

My first kiss was just the same as yours, Lyn. I was 15 and he was 16 (the brother of one of my friends). I had no idea what to do either, and ended up thinking 'Oh, is that it? Fairly boring really!' Fortunately later experience told me more about 'real' kissing!

Tima Maria said...

Oh, it was so long ago, yet, not something I'll ever forget. I was nineteen, he was twenty-four and he asked me if I had ever been French-kissed. I said, no. He taught me!
I look back to that moment when I try to describe that first-kiss scene. Still, it's one of the hardest things to write.

ManicScribbler said...

Lol, Paula - I do remember the attraction of the older brothers of friends at that age!
Glad you experienced the real thing later and I hope it helped you in your romance writing.

Tima, I'm glad you use your 'informative' moment in the same way I do. Getting that first kiss scene just right is far from easy, but having a good point of reference always helps ;)

Bonnie McCune, author, A Saint Comes Stumbling In said...

My first one with the man who became my husband was much anticipated and to the strains of Bob Dylan on the record player. That shows you how long ago it was! Music often becomes entwined with atmosphere, don't you think?

ManicScribbler said...

I certainly do, Bonnie - and it's a powerful memory aid too. I expect whenever you hear that Bob Dylan track, it conjures up the memory of that first kiss immediately.

Jenny Twist said...

I longed for my first kiss. I knew you had to lift one leg, but I wasn't sure where the noses went. Oddly, when it finally happened, neither legs nor noses came into it. My friend Pat had a boyfriend called Adrian and he brought his friend along as a blind date for me. I can't remember his name, but I know he was a Navy cadet. He was very tall and thin and had buck teeth. He kissed me behind the score board at the local cricket ground. And I could feel his teeth through his lips! It put me off kissing for ages!

ManicScribbler said...

Lol, Jenny,
So like me, you weren't exactly "swept off your feet" on your first occasion.
I trust it got much better with time...

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