Writing make out scenes is hard from me. I’m from the Bible belt, there’s guilt. When my characters start doing more than kissing, I type like…not my grandmother is watching me. But someone else’s, just to make it more awkward. Some sweet, old lady who doesn’t know me at all and is silently judging how badly I’m going to corrupt her grandchild.
Suffice to say, it’s awkward. My screen always fades to black. One day I may get over that, but it won’t be soon.
This came up in my writers group last week and either I’m not alone and every other writer is just as embarrassed, or every other writer pretends to be because to say otherwise implies you were…into it.
Do male authors have this problem?
Anyway, I don’t know if every other author does it this way, but here’s my process.
I Google “greatest kiss scenes” and read the scenes readers are raving about. Cassandra Clare comes up a lot. There’s tons of movie scenes, book scenes, scenes from tv shows, even comic strips that pop up under that search that tons of people have commented on. I find a few that match the general tone I want to set and then analyze them for what would work in my scenario and what wouldn’t.
To do this I break the scene down into the following categories.
Mechanics. Where are they? What things are around them? Who is moving where? What are their hands up to? When do they kiss? Where do they kiss?
Emotions. How do the emotions play into the scene?
Descriptions. Any awesome turns of phrase? How can I create, not that exact phrase, but the image it evokes in my own words?
Comments. What are people saying about that scene? I’m generally looking for the phrase “I love the way…” The things people notice are amazing. One of my favorite observations from a kissing scene is this one:
This tends to be where I notice characterization of the actual mechanics.
Of course while I’m going over those other scenes, I’m making notes. My characters aren’t here, they’re there. No, they don’t feel like this, they feel like that. How would I show this? She’d never do that adorable little hop thing, but she might do this. And before you know it, my notes are starting to resemble a scene.
I have to break it down into the craft. Otherwise, I die of embarrassment. Which is ridiculous, I know, but whatever. It works for me. I think. I hope.
Anyway, hope you enjoyed the laugh. Let me leave you with a kissing scene from my WIP, Blood and Other Matter.
I felt myself leaning toward her. Lips so close to hers that the space between us felt like something physical and charged. Like I was holding my hand over a flame. My body buzzed with anticipation. Her breath blended with mine and I realized she was leaning forward too, and the only thing between us was hesitation.
It was one thing to admit we loved one another, we’d always known that. Our feelings for one another may have evolved, shifted contexts, but they were so cloaked in the familiar that there was a comfort to them. This was different. There would be no going back from this. Ridiculously nervous, I cleared my throat. “Can I—“
“Please,” she breathed and we moved together, lips skirting the border of touching and not. This is what had been missing before. Sweetness and fear. In one breath we’d stepped off out safe and familiar cliff and plunged into unknown. But the fall was exhilarating.
The sound of the surf crashing against the sand pulsed through us, creating a rhythm that we fell into. Fear melted into confidence, sweetness into wanting. Almost eighteen years of history led to this moment and it was perfect. Pulling her to me with a level of suave I didn’t know I possessed, I dipped her in my arms, kissing her so deeply I couldn’t tell who was breathing for who. We kissed so long, my lips felt raw but I couldn’t imagine ever stopping. The world narrowed down to my lips against hers, her body against mine, and everything that we were, everything that we’d been through, everything that we felt and feared and hoped for.
Her breathing went ragged and I pulled away, thinking maybe this was moving faster than she’d wanted, but her hands gripped the front of my shirt and yanked me back to her.
“Tess,” I managed, mouth drawn back to hers despite myself. The angle was killing my neck but I barely noticed because her hands were moving under my shirt and I didn’t have the slightest clue what to do with mine. Fortunately, they went solo, acting of their own accord and ran down her slender frame, pulling, lifting her against me.
“Lava,” she gasped. “We’re, uh,” she kissed me again, fingers tangling in my hair. “Standing in lava and stuff.”
“No, I—“ My phone buzzed and I shoved my hand into my pocket to silence it with an impatient click. “I know it’s you.” I’d memorized her kiss, the way she moved against me, her every breath. It was so different than before, so Tess, that I knew I could never be fooled again. Anyone else, anything else, would be a pale imitation. “You don’t have to—I mean, we don’t have to—I’m okay with just—“
I felt her smile and pretty quickly determined that if I could make that happen every day for the rest of my life I’d die happy. “You’re getting ahead of yourself,” she pointed out.
“I like this.” She kissed me for emphasis. “Let’s see where this goes.”
She didn’t have to tell me twice.