I recently wrote the first kiss scene in my current WIP, and as usual, it was my favorite scene to write. A good sexy kiss will have the writer squirming in her seat just as much as her readers if all the stars are aligned and she’s done her best work. It’s a matter of character chemistry, dialogue, and opportunity. The first kiss is the first time your lovers will come together and the reader will get a taste of what’s to come. It’s vital to the couple and to the story, setting the tone for the rest of the book.
So what does it take to write a great first kiss? Here are some things I try to keep in mind:
1. Read. Spend time reading plenty of red-hot romances to generate the level of smolder you’d like your characters to have, and look for scenes you like. Learn from other writers.
2. A place to write. Find a comfortable, quiet place to write with NO distractions. (I’ve had to stop writing in the middle of a sex scene due to an interruption, and getting back to that point was one of the hardest things I’ve had to do as a writer!)
3. Heat level. A first kiss can be as chaste as a peck on the cheek or as torrid as full-on sex. It all depends on the characters. Do they already have a history together? Or maybe they just met. Let the characters and their level of attraction determine the heat level of the kiss.
4. Balance emotion with the physical. Go beyond the yearning, remember their other desires, goals, and motivations and how they might affect the moment. In my first historical, Wish for the Moon, the reluctant hero was ordered by an earl to kiss the heroine in front of a crowded room, but he’d been secretly longing for her all along. He took full advantage of his opportunity with a bone-melting first kiss!
5. Sexual tension. Start the build-up from the first meeting. Every touch, every meeting of gazes must sizzle with awareness. Exaggerate every sensation, heightening that awareness to make the couple realize that only their mate can cause such a powerful physical reaction.
6. Point of view. It’s a tough call, trying to decide which character’s POV to use. Whichever character you choose to experience the kiss, you can revisit the moment through the other’s character’s POV in a later scene. What did he/she feel during that kiss? It must’ve been equally earth shattering for them as it was for their partner.
7. Dialogue. Sexy banter is irresistible. Dialogue tags are barely needed when two main characters throw barbs at each other. Imagine the heat of a scene where a lady taunts a man in a witty conversation escalating into a hot debate. Words eventually fail them, and only a kiss will determine the winner of the argument.
8. Opportunity. Choose the moment wisely. Hook-ups can be fantastically sexy, but not so much when they take place in inopportune times and places. Common sense will tell you what’s a romantic moment and when it just seems forced.
I only wish my current characters had kissed sooner! But that’s where revision does its job. The first kiss addresses pent-up longing and opens new complications. Have fun with it!
—Moonlight Madness coming in January 2013 from The Wild Rose Press & Amazon
—Five Golden Rings, a Christmas anthology coming soon from Avon Impulse & Amazon