The Prompt:

* blush * Today Room to Write, that saucy minx, is asking us to write about kissing (p.34).  As Bonni Goldberg says, “Besides being fun, it is an especially good practice for writing scenes between two people.”

All right then, I suppose I can share a snippet from a scene that I previously wrote while under the influence of wine (when I feel my most floozy) and the very next day yanked from the story.  It really wasn’t the suitable direction for the characters, but I’ve kept it within reach under the file name, “The Gratuitous.”  At any rate, this picks up from when a couple of friends have fallen asleep on the sofa together.


A couple stirrings later, she felt within a tighter squeeze and then a light brushing of lips atop her hair.  She thought she’d been mistaken, but no; the puckering sound of a fully carried-out kiss had sounded against her scalp, then her forehead, and was now moving in slow succession down the bridge of her nose until—

Their lips met.  Both of their eyes closed.  Soft at first, then hardening and spreading with each contact, more slippery each time.  Their tongues met, and together they began to swell and ebb with one another, pressing and pulling away only to heave again toward each other once more as their tongues now spiraled and lunged against their mutual provocation.


Oh, there was more involved, but I’ve restricted it to only the kissing part.  I have no desire (“desire” being the operative word) to become the next Danielle Steel, though kudos to her for, you know, targeting a market well.  Granted, I cut the scene because I felt it wasn’t right for these two characters to hook up, but I do tend to be prudish on stuff like this and wonder why.  I have no qualms thinking it or feeling it or even writing it down, but when it comes to my finished product, I censor.  Is it because there is so much of the gratuitous out there when, by definition, it’s unnecessary in furthering plot or character?  This point makes me recall the film, The Player, with Tim Robbins, who plays the character Griffin Mill:

Griffin Mill:  It lacked certain elements that we need to market a film successfully.
June:  What elements?
Griffin Mill:  Suspense, laughter, violence. Hope, heart, nudity, sex. Happy endings…
June:  What about reality?

The film itself includes the formulaic “hope, heart, nudity, sex” elements, just not where you’d conventionally expect them to be, thereby turning the formula on its head as a means of satire.

That being said, there must be a reason why the formula does exist.  Human passions prevail for the masses.  And what about the story line that has a real message to put forth that necessarily requires a bit of physical relations?  My sister, who writes under the pen name Nicki Elson, addresses this in her blog post, “Should I Have Faded to Black?” with regard to her recently published debut novel, Three Daves.  Set during the 1980’s on a central Illinois college campus, its protagonist (Jennifer) is one of the last American virgins  who seeks compromise between coming of age sexually while still holding out for the elusive “one.”  Jen’s solution to this moral predicament is both a practical and hilarious journey for her as she navigates through three boyfriends who share the same name but entirely different personalities—namely, David, Dave, and Big “D.”  To tell a tale like this, it is appropriate for the details to be explicit:

“She tentatively licked at his lips with the tip of her tongue to try and coax him in.  He teasingly flicked his tongue at hers but refused to take the plunge.  Jen whimpered in frustration, and he ended his torture, finally pushing his way into her mouth.  Jen sucked him in gratefully and clutched his head to hers to make sure he didn’t get away.” (p.67)

Whatever other sexual techniques we might learn during such scenes, it’s in the simple kiss when Jennifer genuinely loses herself in emotion.  The kiss, though only “first base,” can truly be the most sensual, intimate, and affectionate act.  And let’s not forget that kisses can also merely be pecks on the cheek or an innocent idea blown off the palm of a hand.

I’ve spun the bottle and now it’s pointing at YOU.  How about parting your lips and saying what you think on this topic?  What are your thoughts on kissing as an expressive act between people and its role in literature?  Have you ever read/written an effective portrayal of two characters kissing that you’d care to share?


About thefallenmonkey

Primate that dapples in writing when not picking others' fleas or flinging its own poop. View all posts by thefallenmonkey

10 responses to “Kiss-and-Tell

  • agatha82

    I think it’s great when I writer can do love scenes well enough that we can relate to them, but a lot end up writing cringe worthy stuff, but I also think it all depends on the type of novel you are writing and the personality of your characters. I have a lot of kissing in my novel, though I am not very graphic about it, but I have written a lot of smut that shocked even me, it seems I am not very prudish at all in my writing. *blushes*
    P.S Great Echo and the Bunnymen song by the way 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      Nothing like a good 80s-alternative smoochin’ tune…such a classic. I say go for the smut! There are times it definitely is warranted (especially if you write about vampires…what is it about the undead and sex that go so well hand-in-hand–at the risk of just sounding like a necrophiliac, egad! Hopefully you know what I mean :)), and it’s just up to the writer to decide when exercising restraint in description is the more appropriate (if not more erotic!) path or painting the picture vividly is just the thing to excite that ability for readers to relate. There’s also something to be said for catering to fantasy…maybe it’s also when readers can’t relate to it in their own lives that it’s that much more welcome in their imaginations! Okay, off to take a cold shower now…

      • agatha82

        Hope the cold shower cooled you down 🙂
        I know EXACTLY what you mean about the undead and sex 🙂
        James Herbert is rather good with smut, if done well, it can add to the story. I actually have more of a problem with extreme gore and violence. I’d rather write smut instead 🙂

        • thefallenmonkey

          Agreed–I’d prefer smut to gore. I love a scary tale and find the only ones that truly freak me out are the ones with the violence/gore off-screen, so to speak. A person’s imagination can conjure the most frightful things on its own given a little encouragement from the writer 🙂

  • Lua

    “The kiss, though only “first base,” can truly be the most sensual, intimate, and affectionate act.”
    I couldn’t agree more! Which is why it is so hard to write a good kissing scene, heavy with passion but also relatable… I think yours was just the perfect balance, it said and showed enough to create a mental picture but also left out some other stuff for us to fill in so we can relate 🙂

    • thefallenmonkey

      I think you just helped me answer my own question from another standpoint–maybe it’s not merely being prudish but afraid of how to handle it appropriately. There’s such a fine line between cheap exploitation and portraying the act realistically and with a passion that is respectful of true emotion between characters. Huh. Maybe the snippet I shared will find its way off the cutting-room floor and into a story one day…

  • Moi

    I completely agree w/ you and Lua that the “kiss” tells so much about a couple’s intimacy. And I have to admit that a simple kiss to the forehead often says a lot more than a full-on make out. Also, agree that balance is key. What’s intended as a sexy kiss can quickly turn to pure ick with poorly chosen words.

    Your kiss was very nice. Draws the reader into it and gives their own imagination room to play.

    And how honored am I to be included in this blog! And you put the Cure pic by my quote. 😀 AND I don’t know if I’d said the actual song that David played for the final lesson, but it was totally “Lips Like Sugar”!!! Of course, in real life college, I always changed to words to: “Lips Like Sugars, Sugars my kitty…” 😉

    I’ve got to run, but I’ll be back to Tweet this article later.

    Speaking of kisses…MWAH!

    • thefallenmonkey

      Ah! “Sugars my kitty”–I love it! Reminds me, I have to send you a photo I took specifically for you of a kitty last weekend because (at least as far as I’m able to remember) it looked like Sugars 🙂

      Glad you’re pleased with the shout-out–your book is the perfect counterexample on the sex argument, seriously probably the only one I’ve read in which the saucy bits are totally justified and necessary (and woman, do you do quite well in conveying them)–ergo, it’s not gratuitous. Can’t wait to attend your July 15 signing, sis’! MWAH right back!

      [and hey, if you click the The Cure picture, it’ll take you to another kissin’ tune you’re sure to know…too bad there wasn’t a decent video available for it]

  • Eva

    Ooooh, physical contact, scary! I have to say I hardly ever like scenes that include too many details of sex or kissing. It just is such a short way to complete cheese. Or it is just my twisted nature, dunno. The more surprising I found it that I couldn’t smell any of it in your little piece, nor in your sister’s. So congratulations on that one. I’m impressed, really cool and daring post.

    I so far didn’t put a lot of emphasis on describing the acts of love myself (maybe as well because I mainly specialize in suspense?), I usually trie to express the atmosphere, and the pure enchantment of everything, and the awkwardness that comes with it. Maybe I am just not there yet. But if I may be one day, I will let you know! 😉

    Btw – love your ironic style. Every time …

    • thefallenmonkey

      My sister appreciates that you visited her site! That was sweet of you 🙂

      Relieved that the stench of cheese was not to be found in what I posted…I don’t think I’d be very good at going much beyond that; I’d muck it up somehow and infuse the entire work with smells of Stilton…I think if you don’t see where it fits naturally in what you write, leave it out. There are styles/themes it works with, others it doesn’t. And “awkwardness” is a brilliant characteristic to include in your descriptions, as that’s such the reality, isn’t it?

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