"A good kiss scene? Emma? Can you really tell people how to do that?"

"I can try. It's kind of a simple idea."

Firmly: "Then you can explain it quickly."

But I don't like to explain things quickly. "After that can I give a long explanation with examples?" Ugh, I'm whining.

He sighs. "I suppose."

Deal! "You should bring something from your story into the kiss scene." I nod my head. Done! I'm a genius.

"No offense, Emma, but that needs more explanation."

I told you so.


by Emma Sohan

Let's think about the traditional important-kiss scene. There's some suspense — is it going to happen or not? When it happens, we hear her feelings, like passion and excitement and happiness. (Plus his soft lips, don't forget that.) We also can get a physical description of what their hands or bodies (or tongues) are doing.

And you can try to do that well. And you can try to win some prize by being the ten thousandth author to write that scene well.

     ("Too cynical.")

     ("Sorry. I'll try again.")

You can do that well. You should. Suspense, her feelings, and physical description are important. And that's enough, and fine. But, obviously, those enough are not enough to be original — 9,999 authors did it before you.

A simple way to be original — and hence have better, clever writing — is to bring in some element from your book. It can be just part of the setting, repetition, an event, metaphor, or anything.

The absolutely best expample is from The Fault in Our Stars, by John Green. The main character has terminal cancer, held in remission by drugs, and she needs a portable oxygen machine to help her breath. We read, in addition to everything else:

As his parted lips met mine, I started to feel breathless in a new and fascinating way. . . for a weird moment I really liked my body; this cancer-ruined thing I'd spent years dragging around suddenly seemed worth the struggle, . . .

More mundanely, the kiss happens in the Anne Frank house and Green works that into the kiss too.

In my book Emotions Girl, their first kiss comes after an action scene, and that action scene used an odd grammatical construction. Examples:

Move! Move! I jump out of my seat.
My body JOLTS into motion, running away! away! away!
I bounce clumsily against the left wall and run! run! until...
The start of the kiss scene:
My heart is starting to slow down, and I'm calming down and regaining some self-control.

Then Alex leans over into my face, I look up at him, he holds my chin in his hand, and . . . he . . . kisses me, starting my heart again racing, racing, racing.

So I used the same grammatical construction. Tiny, but there it is. Also, an important scene near the start of the book is when he holds her chin in his hand, so that's pulled from the book too.

I've done better. But . .  . it's different. That's all your trying to do: Suspense, her feelings, some physical description, and something original.

Their second kiss occurs like an hour later. The action scene was a gunman shooting up the building, killing and injuring students. She helped stop him. Also, one of the ideas in the book is that she turns off her thinking so she can have more feelings.

Then abruptly he pulls me to him and kisses me again. And my body melts into his, and my thinking stops, and I don't want it to stop because I can't face my feelings, but . . . my thinking stops. His lips are on mine, exciting me as I remember the unconscious girl still bleeding. Alex's strong arms surround me tight, giving me security even as I remember being shot at. Our bodies press together and I feel our desire and I remember the dead student covered by a sheet. I picture filling someone's body with bullets as Alex's hand softly caresses my face and I feel his caring. I am overwhelmed with pleasure and overwhelmed with pain.

And then one feeling takes over — this is where I feel at home. Even though everything's totally crazy, I feel at home with Alex.

Voila! A unique kiss scene. It's still takes creativity and skill to weave a part of your story into the kiss scene. But that's part of the fun of writing, right?

(For two more tips, email a check for a million dollars to emma17@EmmaSohan.com)