Bringing a Story to Life: A Kiss is Not Just a Kiss

 Couple-romance-kiss-silhouette-AFP-800x430.pngThroughout the Metatron’s Army Series, I have had to explore the act of kissing between a variety of characters within a number of scenarios.

This has been challenging due to a number of factors, not the least of which is that many of those kissing are totally and completely inexperienced.  At the same time, they are not teenagers so the whole juvenile awkward act doesn’t fit.

It took a bit but I’ve finally managed to find a process that helps me get it done.

Back to Basics.  At its most basic, a kiss is a physical act of expression.  The subtle nuances come in what thought or emotion is being expressed.  For a writer, that necessitates describing the emotion or thought so the reader can envision the type of kiss.

Is it a kiss of desperation?  A kiss of affection?  A kiss of passion?  A kiss of need?

Desperation.  There are a few instances where characters are feeling desperate for one reason or another.

  • Loneliness
  • Anger rooted in pain
  • Fear

In these situations, explaining the motivation of the character instigating the kiss and the physical response of the one being kissed is usually sufficient for the reader to get a good visual of what is going on.

Readers have great imaginations.

Affection.  In general, Christine feels a deep affection for the Light Beings.  She frequently kisses the ones she is closest to as a way of letting them know they aren’t alone, that she is on their side, and that someone cares for them.

She’s also determined to help them become used to small touches of affection so they are no longer vulnerable to fatal energy spikes.

I have a scene in Dark Bishop where Christine and Dacan end up French kissing.  The trick was that this kiss was – because of the nature of the relationship between the two – a kiss of affection.

The kiss never gets passionate.

To successfully pull this off I had to ensure the context of the act – why were they kissing? – was accompanied by ensuring the points of view of both characters got space on the page.

This scene took a few rewrites before I was happy with it.

Passion.  Passion is defined as

  • A powerful emotion such as love, joy, hatred or anger.
  • An ardent love.
  • Strong sexual desire, lust.

Any one of those can be grounds for kissing.

In an upcoming book, I I have a kiss between Christine and a member of Metatron’s Army that is a kiss of anger.  It’s not violent – it is appropriate to the scene and – most importantly – reflective of the character’s feelings of hurt and anger.  He is able to express his turmoil through that kiss because Christine is a safe haven.  She understands his motivation – understands that he is angry and hurting – and is pouring those emotions into her through that kiss because he considers her safe.

Passion and its many emotions expressed strongly is by far the top reason characters in my stories kiss. Within those emotions are a number of options for describing the scene and the characters involved.

  • There are kisses where the characters feel in suspended animation – the world falls away and its only the two of them.
  • There are kisses where the character’s passion swells to the point they have a number of thoughts going through their heads – all described so the reader understands.
  • There are kisses that cause a physical response in the other character.

These are my favorite to write about.

I can think of two examples.

  • In Bishop Pair, Christine, totally lusting after the Tactical Instructor, throws herself at him and begins kissing him passionately.  He is caught off guard, initially stumbles, but soon returns the kiss just as passionately.
  • In Positional Play, on the dance floor in Virginia Beach, Christine kisses Verix.

She isn’t doing too well and several emotions and not just a bit of confusion is going through her at the time.

Unused to kissing, and out of touch with strong emotions, Verix tries to figure out what to do.

His intent here is to protect and help Christine but he has no idea what she expects of him and no idea how to kiss.

After analyzing the situation, he allows her to kiss him passionately, even returns some of it.  This sends a total jolt of electricity through her and she responds by upping the passion with which she kisses him. 

In Simultaneous Display there is a scene where Dacan asks Verix how he could stand the searing pain that came as a result of that kiss, and the passion Christine poured through it.

Need.  What is it the character needs at that moment and how is it kissing another character will provide it?

There is a scene in Pawn Storm where Corus kisses Christine almost violently, his need for her is so strong.

She’s just been rescued from being trapped in a mine with Verix and several injured miners.  His emotions – fear at almost losing her – jealousy because she was trapped with Verix for over 72 hours – a need to possess her becauseof those emotions – all comes out though the forceful kiss.

Christine quickly realizes Corus has total control of the kiss though he himself is not in control of his emotions.  Because she understands what’s driving him, she lets him go at it even though it isn’t pleasurable for her.

Kissing is an Art.  Due to the number of inexperienced kissers in the series, I need to pay special attention to physical descriptions and how the other characters feel being on the receiving end of an awkward and/or inexperienced kiss.

Especially since the other characters are, generally speaking, not as inexperienced.

Practice Isn’t Always Perfect.  As Black Widow says to Captain America in The Winter Soldier.  “Everybody needs practice.”

I love the interaction between those two in that scene.

Ironically, as a writer, for me practice represents a problem.  I get bored describing the physical aspects of a kiss unless it’s relevant.

I mean after over a dozen novels, how many ways can I describe the sensation of lips and/or tongues touching? 

In order to get around this I  put context around the nature of the kiss.

  • Why are these people kissing?
  • What is each character feeling because of this act?
  • Whose viewpoint do I go with during the kiss?

I recently added a new tool to my writing kit:  Music.

How sweet the sound.  It isn’t that using music for the series is new.  Beginning with Advantage and for each MA novel afterward, I have created a playlist that reflects the story and evokes the emotions of the characters in that story.  I recently began to do the same with the act of kissing by listening to music that evokes an image of the kiss itself.

I get an image of the characters kissing as if the scene was choreographed to the music playing.

For the scene I happen to be working on today, the song is Never Let Me Go by Ursine Vulpine from Respire. The two characters are letting out feelings that have been bottled up.  The music starts out slow and builds just as the kiss does. 

This particular kiss begins tentatively but as they realize they have each other’s permission and they are free to give in to the psychological and emotional release the kiss offers, it intensifies.  It isn’t a grasping explosion so much as the swelling and overflow of energy pouring from one to the other simultaneously.

What helps with this scene is that the song is part of a playlist that applies to a number of interrelated scenes that illustrate the two characters giving themselves permission to love and to demonstrate that love openly.

Though the final release of pent up feelings implies a volcanic eruption, it would be an inappropriate outlet through the kiss.  To do so would imply violent release and that isn’t what’s going on with these two characters.

Even though it’s a kiss of desperation, self-control achieves more to convey what’s going on inside these characters – or at least the self-control they slowly lose.

Such a kiss demands finesse and should not be overly physical.

Bet you never considered how much thought went into writing a scene of passion.

I have to admit, though I’ve experienced different types of kisses over the course of my lifetime, it wasn’t until I became a novelist that I learned a kiss is never just a kiss.

Pin, Book 8 in the Metatron’s Army Series will be available December 15, 2018.

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