Tuesday, May 22, 2007

Writing the Kissing Scenes . . .

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I find writing kissing scenes for YA books tricky. I mean, I love romance and apparently a lot of my teen readers like it too, but some of my readers are quite young and I always want my books to be—well, clean. It’s a fine line to walk. How much romantic language is appropriate?

Then there is the other problem. How many different ways can you descriptively write, “He leaned down and kissed her. And they kissed for awhile. Then they stopped.” See, it has to be dressed up somehow, made more literary, and made more immediate.

Not long ago I explained this problem to my husband. I asked him to kiss me like it was our first date so I could think of descriptive phrasing.

He isn't very cooperative about these sorts of requests. He gave me a humorless stare and said, “What, you want me to take you in my sinewy arms and pull you into my vice-like grip?”

I made him read a romance back in the 80s--you know, just so he would know what women expected from a man--and he's never let me live this down. In my defense it had been several years since I had read the aforementioned romance and I'd forgotten what it was like.

He walked over to me. “This is where I kiss you're welcoming mouth, right?”

I smacked him and reminded him that I write young adult fiction and there is none of the cheesy romance lingo in them.

He said, “You mean I'm not supposed to plunder your mouth?”

“How does anyone even do that?” I asked him. “Are you supposed to steal my fillings or something? Just kiss me like you don’t know me that well.”

He kissed me and I tried to arrange the description. “His unshaved beard stubble scraped across my skin . . .” Well, that just wasn't going to work.

He let go of me and rolled his eyes. ”Can't you just write about that first night I kissed you--remember Lake Braddock?” We'd gone there late one summer night after a dance and sat in the moonlight looking at the lake. “Don't you remember that?” he asked.

"All I really remember is that the ducks were sleeping."

"That's what you remember about that night?"

"Well, I'd never seen ducks sleep before. They look like they don't have heads."

"The summer night, the moonlight . . ." he supplied.

" . . .there among the headless ducks . . ."

Yeah, I never could get that memory to work for my novel. It’s a good thing I have a descriptive imagination.


Josi said...

LOL--that is too funny! I've tried to get my husband to practice stuff with me too and it's a no go--but I never made him read a romance, thank goodness!

Kari Pike said...

Janette! You always make me smile. Thanks for the lift!

Kinza said...

Hi Janette!
This is kind of random but one of my Mom's blogging friends had this post about no need for spelling. And since you don't believe in spelling, I thought you would like to read it:

Only great minds can read this.

This is weird, but interesting!

fi yuo cna raed tihs, yuo hvae a sgtrane mnid too.

Cna yuo raed tihs? Olny 55 plepoe out of 100 can.

i cdnuolt blveiee taht I cluod aulaclty uesdnatnrd waht I was rdanieg. The phaonmneal pweor of the hmuan mnid, aoccdrnig to a rscheearch at Cmabrigde Uinervtisy, it dseno't mtaetr in waht oerdr the ltteres in a wrod are, the olny iproamtnt tihng is taht the frsit and lsat ltteer be in the rghit pclae. The rset can be a taotl mses and you can sitll raed it whotuit a pboerlm. Tihs is bcuseae the huamn mnid deos not raed ervey lteter by istlef, but the wrod as a wlohe. Azanmig huh? yaeh and I awlyas tghuhot slpeling was ipmorantt!
(From CML Shearings)

Kinza :)

Janette Rallison said...

And I could read every word of it. Yeah, so who needs spelling anyway?

Michele Holmes said...

I thought the headless duck setting was kind of fun. I think I could see it in one of your novels---or maybe in Josi's, along with the drunk goats and the smelly chickens.
I too have a love/hate relationship with kissing scenes. I love it when they're done and they work well, but I really hate writing them. It IS hard!

Annette Lyon said...

Janette, you bring me joy. Just seeing your title and then a photo of ducks made me laugh. I too hate writing kissing scenes. I've never tried practicing them with my hubby, though. Hmm. Food for thought.

Heather Moore said...

This is so funny, Janette. You remind me of Erma Bombeck.

Anonymous said...

How could I forget the ducks! How silly of me.

Julie Wright said...

HAHAAA! kissing scenes are icky. No matter how well you write them--out of context they're cheesy and lame sounding and make people wonder why anyone bothers.

I remember one in a book I read where the girl says, "Kiss me, jared. Kiss me like you've never kissed me." I laughed for a full ten minutes. Even in context, the line was so lame. What girl says that and what guy can actually carry the act of the kiss out without giggling at her (yes guys giggle)? That's why I need to write middle grade. They don't kiss yet. It's so much easier. But I think my husband might feel better about the time i spend writing if I pull him into some kissing practice . . .

Jen said...

I'm actually also having alot of issues writing a kissing scene for a young adult novel, and I hope to publish it. That is, I am 11. but I can do. I know I can.

BlueEyesWhiteDragon17 said...

hi I need help. i can't seem to get my kissing scenes right. this is the situation. A guy and a girl are locked in a janitor's room and have to spend the night. the girl is feeling cold and gets a blanket, the guy then wakes up and see her climbing a step stool. she then falls and he catches her, and then they kind of look at each other and then i can get it right. like i want them to start kissing but i just don't know how i can do it. my other kissing scene was well a dud. any suggestions

*they had kissed at lunch already and they don't know each other well
*this is a adult fiction
you can message me at my website

alz said...

that was SOOOOOOOO cute :D

Anonymous said...

I LOVE this post it had me ROFL My hubby is *exactly* the same. On Feb 14th I'm going to be entering the 'Just Kiss Already blogfest' and today decided to research writing the kiss scene. I'm so glad I found your blog it's really brightened a dull rainy day :O)

Get a Blog said...

lol! very funny.Really enjoyed it.Thank you.

The Acceptable Schizophrenic said...

That was priceless. Thanks for that.

Kate Danley said...

One of my first kisses felt like kissing a jelly Lifesaver with a suction tube in the middle. Go with the ducks.