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A kiss is a kiss is a ....

I went looking for my husband, grabbed him, and went for his mouth with mine.

A couple of minutes into the kiss, he pulled back and asked, "What are you doing?”

“Licking at the roof of your mouth. It’s what a character in a book was doing.”

“Stop. It’s weird.”

“It’s research!"


A few days ago someone asked me what I was having a hard time with lately when it comes to work. I’m a complainer from a long line of kvetchers and so if anyone asks what bugs you about your job, I’m on that answer like nobody’s business. I can get very creative with the things that get in my way, ruin my day and try to ruin my brilliant career.

My answer was a simple, “composing a kiss.”

Surprised me, too.

I’m trying to improve my kisses. Not my real one--although, at least the smirky remarks about research aren't so far off target.

Hey, my real kisses are fine, but I decided my fictional ones could use help. They bored me so I thought maybe I could put some new element of something in there.

Seriously. Sex is okay for me to write. maybe because once the characters are that far along, the tension is going to kill them if they don’t get into each other, pronto.

But kisses are more difficult for some reason. I think it’s because they’re kinda…weird. Actually think about the action of kissing for a while and the whole thing becomes odd, or gross, depending on whether or not you’ve been spending time around 10-year-olds. If that’s not enough to squick you, you might recall it’s based on what we all did as babies, nursing. Never mind, we’ll just skip over that part.

When I write, I want to see and taste everything as carefully as possible and from every angle—it’s a way to make things more vivid. Look at old actions in new ways, observe more closely. And if I can, grab my husband to see if he can help with research. Usually that sort of activity gets the thumbs up around here. Funny that when it came to the kissing experiments, they didn’t go over so well.


“What the heck was that?” He pulled away and rubbed his hand over his mouth.

“Lapping at the inside of your lip and your teeth. I read it somewhere.”

“No. And, look, I don’t mind the lip nibble but no more bites.”


“The Kiss by the Hôtel de Ville,” taken in Paris in 1950. (Photo: Robert Doisneau)

I want to write a good kiss. And how many times can I use words like deep, wet, lingering, hungry, sweet, greedy….

Um, well. Apparently some buzzwords are fine and I don’t mind using some of those, but honestly, the kisses run together, bunch of same old, same old face sucking.

So heck, how can you make a kiss unique and not remind readers that characters are slurping around inside each others’ mouths which is …kinda odd or gross.

Stroking, dancing or mating tongues, eh. Not my favorite. Tangling tongues, I get an image of a knot and the kissers in trouble, stuck together.

I went looking for other people’s best fictional kisses. And was reminded once again, duh. It’s all of it at once--the effect of the kiss on a character’s emotions or the rest of the body--along with some description of the action.

Don’t need nearly as much tongue dancing or prancing or dodging when you’re writing about how the hero’s mouth on hers is arousing and terrifying the heroine at the same time. And the dancing tongue you might add into the mix is so loaded with emotion and tension—let’s just say at least it doesn’t pirouette around on its own.

The best kisses are a complex, rich balance of emotion and sensation as well as a description of the actual slurpy stuff. Voila, you get a plain ol’ garden variety kiss heated into something magnificent.

I thought about showing you some of the kisses I found during my research, like maybe the one on about page 121 of Judith Ivory’s The Proposition. But now that I’ve read that description of a plain, ordinary kiss. Wowee. Just got to get the strength back in my knees and I’m off to find my husband again--or maybe I'll just pick up that book again.

--Summer Devon


Ann Cory said...

Great post Summer :) Loved it - and have too been trying to write "kissing" creatively. Without freaking out hubby, lol

Sam said...

A kiss on the hand
May be quite continental,
But diamonds are a girl's best friend.

(I just had that song running through my head as I read the blog)
Good post!

J. Paul said...

Amazingly, last night I was in the middle of a kissing moment and I could not, for the life of me, keep from erasing the over done garbage that I use all the time. I think I counted 10 different versions, but in the end - like you pointed out - they were all about the lips and the tongue and the arms; wrong!!!

Now, tonight when I grab my cup of coffee, sit down with my muse (that would be my wife) and discuss kissing it will be about what emotions she feels, and after I get a good feel for that - and I mean to practice as long as necessary even late into the night if necessary - I’ll sit at my computer and type.

I thank you for a great post!!!

J. Paul

Bonnie Dee said...

You've helped me out a lot with this post. I, too, am sick of writing tangling tongues, etc. So my new angle will be too spend less time describing the lip nibbling, caressing tongues, et al and concentrate more on the reaction to said kissage.


Ashley Ladd said...

You'd think as long as I've been married (28 years come January 26th), having given birth to 5 children, and written romance (published since 1999, writing for much longer), that describing a kiss would be easy. It's not.

This is something I need to work at, too. Guess I'll have to do some more "research". :)

Karen Erickson said...

This is so true. I've kissed my husband many a time while thinking, "Hmm, lemme try this cos I just wrote that kissing scene and the heroine did it..." LOL

It is so hard to write a good kissing scene. I always feel like mine sound the same.

Great post!

Lisabet Sarai said...

The first time I kissed my husband, it was not just about mouths. He wrapped me in his arms and hugged me tight against him. It was, as I told him later, "a full body kiss" just this side of X-rated (and in the middle of a Boston sidewalk, too!). Reading your post, Summer, I realize that kisses can be much more than lips and tongues.

Kate R said...

Ann and Ashley and Karen's husbands probably all got some interesting kisses in experimentation last night.

I mean, there they are, right in front of us, research objects. For some of the more complex moves, I know my friend Arianna Hart uses her kids' barbie dolls. In pairs, I mean. She doesn't kiss the little plastic dolls.

Thanks for the nice note j paul and bonnie.

So that picture on a Parisian street might have been you and your husband in Boston, lisabet?

and sam? Curse you for that ear-worm.

Kate R said...

but I had "a kiss is just a kiss a smiiiiiillllllle is just a smilllllle as time goes by" stuck in my head even longer.