If you are writing a novel, you need it to be as realistic as possible, at least when it comes to the characters’ interactions.
There will inevitably be at least one canoodling when two characters fall in love. Whether you like it or not, these scenes can make or break you as a storyteller in a love story that the reader will be invested in.
Readers care about love, and they revolt when you cannot write decent kissing scenes.
This article will guide you on how to write a kissing scene that can compete with your favorite romance novels.
After all, in a story, it is not just about the kiss—it is also about the start of a relationship, and often, that first tender kiss is what the rest of the written relationship is hinged upon.
How to Describe a Kiss and a Romance Scenes
Maybe you are a romantic at heart, and you can think of many ways to describe a kiss, regardless of what kind of kiss it is. It can be an awkward or surprise kiss or a steamy kissing scene, and you have got the words for it.
However, this extraordinary kissing scene you must write often sneaks up on an author. They quickly learn that it is more challenging to write such a scene without the whole experience coming off as a cliche.
1. Draw from personal experience
If you have ever played out a kissing scene in real life, think about it, and try a little bit of free writing.
Put words to how it felt physically, emotionally, and psychologically. Maybe your first kiss was awkward, lips smashing into dental braces, noses bumping, dry-lipped fiascos, but there were almost undoubtedly memorable positive feelings you could draw from.
Think of kisses you have seen in movies or read in other books. What is that one heart-melting kissing scene in a movie that gets you every time?
People describe kissing in different ways based on how they experienced it. Maybe it was a sweet peck that hinted at an innocent feeling of attraction that could go somewhere deeper. Maybe it was a steamy lust-filled make-out session that expressed the risque desires of the two people involved.
Think of all of the ways to describe that lip lock, and write them down in your own words.
Even if they do not apply to the particular situation between the characters you are writing about, keep that list of words and phrases that you will accumulate when you free write. It may come in handy down the road, in other stories, or even in the one you are working on.
2. Consider the situation
Think about the situation between the characters you have created.
Do the smooching scenes seem like a good move between characters who have been flirty for most of the story? Or do they dislike each other, work on opposite sides, and cannot help but feel romantic tension when they are around each other?
Genuinely consider the situation to determine how best to describe the kissing scene. This is often an overlooked notion when trying to figure out how to create an intimate scene.
Not every kiss is the same—not every situation is the same, and not every character is the same. Assess both the female and male characters and how their profiles link to each other.
Look at how you have written one character you are pushing to another romantically and the situations that you have designed to put them in. Now think about what sort of kiss these variables call for.
Words to Describe a Kiss
Writing a perfect kissing scene is tricky because the words you choose matter.
You do not want to sound like a sappy Hallmark card when writing a good kissing scene, but you also do not want to compromise the emotion and feeling that your story is starting to sound like a technical guide on how two persons kiss.
As we have already discussed, the descriptive terms you write need to reflect the situation.
It’s best to create enough imagery for the reader to “see” this kiss happen – believe that the kiss can happen the way you say it does, and invest in something more than a kiss or circumstances that make the main characters pull away from each other.
It is all about the situation, characters, imagery, and intent. I know there is a lot to consider, so let us unpack them a little more.
3. Use words that create mental images
Consider the following example:
Michael leaned in towards Liz because he thought she wanted him to kiss her. He went for it and kissed his best friend, and he could tell that she liked it because she kissed him back. The kiss lasted several seconds. Then they pulled away from each other and smiled at each other.
There may be worse scenes than the example above, but probably not many. It overuses the word “kiss,” and it is a very awkward kiss at its very best. The reader cannot really visualize it and cannot relate with either Michael or Liz.
You have to create that mental movie that takes over and plays in the reader’s head when they read the story. You have to give them words that describe the kissing scene in ways that make it feel real.
We can do better with Michael and Liz. Consider the following example:
Michael had noticed the signs, he took a good look at her body language. This is the first time he looked in Liz’s eyes as she stood across from him in the dim room. He took a step forward, closing in on the space that separated them, and she did the same. He noticed she was breathing deeply, which reminded him that he wasn’t breathing. So caught up in the next move, he’d forgotten to inhale. Their lips met, and the moment Michael’s tongue pressed Liz’s lower lip, she parted her mouth like a freshly split–open fig, welcoming him into the warmth of her mouth. His tongue slipped inside her insistent mouth. Her lips tasted like cherry. A moment later, her hands slipped from his neck as her fingers gripped his dark hair. Her hands felt like warm embers, raising a fire from within him. His hand crept to her waist and his chest pressed against hers. Finally, she pulled away slowly and Michael groaned softly as he kept his eyes clenched shut for a moment afterward, not wanting to wake up from this dream he’d brought to life, savoring the moment. The last thing he wanted was for her to pull away. His large hands let go of her waist. Time stopped as he struggle to come to terms with this dizzy swaying world. How could he have missed out all this time.
Now that is a kiss. It is one that the reader can visualize, possibly relate to, and want to know more about. The author used metaphors and similes such as how the lips taste like or how the touch feels like. The audience will likely be far more interested in how these characters’ relationships would progress after reading the second example rather than the first.
How to Write a Kiss
Every romance novel has at least one kissing scene.
Doing your research is a great place to start. Even if romance is not your preferred genre, grab a few, skim through, and look for scenes with apparent sexual tension that will lead to a kiss.
When you create a kissing scene, you have to give your characters an opportunity. Put them alone together in some intimate space—a car, an office with a closed door, a hotel room, an elevator, or anywhere the characters can be alone for long enough for the reader to believe that a kiss could occur.
You can also write lip-locking scenes that are in the moment and unexpected.
These work best when the characters have just been through something.
For example, an attractive cop saves the witness from an attempted kidnapping or assassination, and there can be an unexpected kiss due to the high tension and energy of the situation. So a kiss that leaves the witness in deep astonishment afterward is appropriate in this situation.
1. Describe the body
Include the physical components in describing the kissing scenes without getting technical so it will not read like a medical journal.
When you are nervous about an anticipated kiss or are caught off guard with a surprise smooch, your heart rate increases, which means you are breathing heavily. Say that in your scene.
We all know that your mouth has to move for a kiss to occur. Describe it.
Lips parted, licked lips in anticipation, shaking lips, puckered lips—tell the reader what the mouth is doing right before the kiss takes place. These are some romantic moments the reader will remember and cling to.
They want to know all about the perfect lips, touching each other’s lips. When describing first kisses, it is a requirement for the writer to write them as detailed as possible.
Think about the body’s involuntary actions while in the throes of passion or when experiencing happiness. You can say that the man moans softly when his lips meet hers, and the soft moans can be heard from the bedroom as they kissed.
Did the body tremble when they kissed? If your characters remained standing for the kiss, was there a moment when someone’s knees weakened?
Describe the events beyond the characters’ control because it amplifies the build-up of romance and suspense that lead to the first kisses.
2. Don’t be shy
Now is not the time to renege and blush.
You cannot have a believable romantic encounter or relationship in your story if you are writing as a child astonished with adults doing such things as feeling attraction, having lust, or making out.
If you find the experience uncomfortable, remove yourself from the situation and write from a different point of view. Characters and situations have nothing to do with you, so detach yourself from them and only look at the scene through the eyes of the protagonist, antagonist, or person doing the kissing.
3. Powerful words to use
After you have thought about your own romantic experiences and made a list of as many terms and phrases as possible to describe a kiss, write out your scene, and then go back and read it.
Ask yourself if you can picture the kiss in your mind while reading it. Use the five senses to build up the scene. The reader will likely experience the same if you, as the writer, are having trouble visualizing the scene.
Remember that you are closer to your work than they are. You know what is happening and how the characters feel and want. The reader only has you to rely on to share the stories and experiences of your characters.
If you find that the scene lacks description, go through it and replace some of your words with those that can create powerful imagery using metaphors and similes:
Here are some examples:
- Arms wrapped around each other tightly, like black holes pulling each other toward their center.
- His arms wrapped around her body, passionately holding her tight.
- His fiery tongue slips inside her soft, luscious mouth.
- Jaw clenched tight, body tense, etc. A kiss that can undo or melt a person like a summer rain is one of the secret weapons in writing romance.
- Describe the eyes: A common feature to highlight is the eyes. Make them darken or sparkle due to the kiss or anticipation. Eyes as blue as the deep ocean.
Just go for it
If anything, a kiss should be described well enough for the reader to imagine and anticipate that there is more to come.
This scene is very important, but the rest is usually much easier once you get past it. This roadblock catches many writers up and gets them flustered.
Readers want the human connection of characters, and intimate connections, such as a kiss, give them that. We can only write with such enthusiasm since the characters are expected to kiss.
Whether you are flowing loosely with the story or slowly moving intentionally towards a climactic romantic build-up that results in a kiss, it is true that once you get going and put your skills into practice, the rest gets easier. The character does not have to be a good kisser—you just have to be good at describing the kiss.
Enrich your own imagination by reading other love stories or watching romantic movies for inspiration.
Remember the points given in this article if you need extra help.
Take note that the whole body is involved in a kiss. Be descriptive. Describe kissing with metaphors and similes to further romanticize your characters. Use your memories as inspiration. And then just go for it when writing a romance novel.
From the light touch that leads to a soft kiss in the rain to the toe-curling sloppy kiss that people stop and stare at like a car accident you cannot turn away from, you can write any love scene you want. You just have to make it realistic and without skimping on the details.