Kissing Scenes... Can't help but be cheesy!!!

by Avionne
(Trinidad)

Question: I'm writing a short story and there is a love sub-plot between two shy characters who discover that they have been secretly crushing on each other. After their initial embarrassment ('cause love can be embarrassing and/or awkward for shy people) I wanted to include a sweet, tender moment followed by a short kiss (there's blushing involved somewhere, just not sure where). The problem is, I don't know how to do it without it coming off cheesy or elementary. It's a book for teens (specifically age 15 and up) and I obviously don't want an R-rated smooch fest (besides shy people would never go for a passionate kiss the first time they kiss someone) and I want to keep them in character. Sorry, I'm rambling but I just want to know how to make it seem relevant to the story as well as the characters. I hope I've made sense and included all the necessary information. Love your website, your responses are always spot on. Thanks again.


Answer: You have two key considerations here. The first is the story consideration: what this moment means to the arc of the characters, how it will affect their relationship, and how it fits into the plot of the story.

The second consideration is the need to make moment authentic.

Both are important. But if you are worried that it is coming off cheesy, that's a sign that you may need more authenticity.

Authenticity generally comes from the specific details that add realism to the scene, and that have the ring of truth because they are consistent with what you have established about the characters. Authentic details can include both the feelings of the characters and how they handle those feelings.

It can also help to consider what else might be going on in the scene. Perhaps a less than ideal time and place can reflect or augment the awkwardness of the characters.

At any rate, your instinct towards keeping the moment true to the characters is quite correct. Anything else could come across as inauthentic.

If you are lucky enough to know some teens or younger adults who are willing to talk about their first kiss, they could be a source of ideas. The personal experiences of you and your friends can also help (bearing in mind that attitudes change a little with each generation). Having a strong sense of your characters will help too. You will also need a little imagination to find what will push them into that awkward moment and how they react afterward.

Best of luck.

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Oct 17, 2013
Re: Kissing Scenes
by: Todd Rogers

Really good question you've posited, and a very good answer to boot!

My thinking is to, like so many things we experience in life that have a multi-stimual component like kissing, deconstruct or reverse engineer the thing you're trying to describe to gain additional authenticity and to add emotional elements like shyness or reluctance or passion in a way that simple descriptions cannot.

So, to get to the bottom of how to write out that scene, like Gary wrote, is to examine yours and other's experiences with your first kiss to examine how you felt when it happened.

Was it dry? Wet? Slobbery (like the other person is effectively swallowing the lower half of your face) or was it more reserved, a little leftover saliva on the lower lip but your heart beating a million miles a second....your soul screaming for more but you resist out of a desire to not "overdo it".

Did time seem to stop as your lips met, or was it so disgusting that you couldn't finish it fast enough?

I think first kisses can have meaning in less than idyllic circumstances, but do not abandon cheesy for its own sake.

Sometimes, kisses are just meant to be that way.

Oct 22, 2013
I would like to thank the Academy and my editors...
by: Avionne

Thank you so much! This was really helpful. I like the idea of asking teens about their first kiss and marrying it with the moments that feel authentic to the story plot. I was actually just gonna stick a kissing scene where I felt the characters needed to do something romantic, not necessarily essential to the plot. That clearly isn't going to work and readers will sense the awkward impulse which could jolt them from the story altogether. Once again, many thanks, once again, spot on response.

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