Who doesn’t love well-crafted makeout scenes that leave you feeling warm, tingly… and maybe a bit jealous?
If you’ve ever read a kissing scene that made you forget everything else you had to do that day, then you get it.
As a writer, though, what comes to mind when you try to think of words to describe a kiss that will live in your reader’s memory for days?
And how do you create a kissing scene no one will want to forget.
- How to Write a Kissing Scene: 8 Things to Consider
- How to Describe a Kiss
- 5 Kissing Scene Examples
How to Write a Kissing Scene: 8 Things to Consider
Describing a kiss is about much more than the kiss itself. The actual kiss is at the center of a larger universe of context clues and descriptive language.
The following tips will help you lay the groundwork for a memorable (and re-readable) kissing scene.
1. Get into your characters’ heads.
Put yourself in each character’s place and imagine what they must be feeling toward each other and in the moments leading up to the kiss. What’s on each character’s mind? And how does their thinking change when the other character comes nearer?
Depending on the point of view you’re using, you might narrate as one of the characters and share more of what’s going on in their heads.
Or you might narrate as a third-person observer who doesn’t know their intimate thoughts but can guess them (to a point) from each character’s spoken words and body language.
Try a few different approaches to see which one works best for the story.
2. Build tension before the kiss.
You want your reader to feel the chemistry between the characters before they kiss. The tension doesn’t have to be the main driver of the story, but it should have a presence your reader can’t ignore.
Here are a few ideas for building that tension:
- Mutual dislike when they first meet
- One of them helping the other with something
- Different backgrounds and perspectives
- Sexual polarity (feminine and masculine energies)
- Accidental touches and other awkward moments
Awkwardness is key. It’s a good pain.
And then, everything comes together for the kiss the reader has by now come to expect.
3. Set the scene.
Think about sensory details of the couple’s surroundings that could affect them and the kiss. What is it about their environment that pushes them closer together and makes the kiss more likely to happen?
Or, conversely, what’s happening that could prevent the kiss from happening? How do the characters get around that?
How do you picture this kiss happening? Take a moment to describe the essential details and flesh them out as they develop in your mind.
4. Describe what’s happening, starting with the K.I.S.S. principle.
Start your writing with a simple, clear, straightforward description of what you can see in your mind.
From there, you can try some unusual metaphors or other figurative constructions if they work. Don’t be afraid of trying something new. Write whatever comes to mind and just let it sit for a while.
Later on, you can re-read it and keep what works. Ditch the clichés, if you find any.
Even a gentle first kiss should carry the potential for something more. You want this kiss to linger in your reader’s imagination as long as possible. You want it to leave a mark.
Like the kiss itself, start simple, and let your characters take over.
5. Make sure every detail earns its place.
Too many details and the romantic high becomes a freefall. Too few, and you have a basic, boring, anticlimactic kiss. Don’t do that to your readers.
Read quality kissing scenes and note the details that enhance the experience for you. Then try playing with some metaphors or similes that come to mind as you picture the scene and put it into words.
Get creative with those essential details. But keep it believable.
Don’t attribute improbable tastes and smells to lips, mouths, etc. It’s one thing if someone’s mouth tastes like the candy or mint they had earlier. But no one’s mouth tastes like candy in the morning.
6. Focus on the feels.
What feelings do you want your reader to notice? And how will each character communicate that?
When you’re showing the reader what the two characters are feeling, remember to include details related to the following:
- Words and behavior in the moments before the kiss
- Body language cues that both characters are exhibiting and noticing
- Physical responses to each other right before and during the kiss
- How those feelings determine each character’s response to the kiss
- Who initiates the kiss and how the other character feels and responds
- Each character’s awareness (or lack thereof) of their surroundings
7. Learn from the pros.
If you want to write high-quality romance, you’d better be reading it, too. No one who takes the romance genre seriously would say, “I want to be a famous author of addictive romance/erotica… but I don’t read that stuff because it’s beneath me.”
If you want readers texting your name to their besties with fainting emojis and OMGs, you’ve got to read the masters of the genre and learn from them. It’s research.
Find the bestsellers in your chosen genre and subgenres and read up. Make it a priority.
8. Treat the kiss like a three-act play in miniature.
IF you’re writing this kissing scene as a three-act miniature play, you’ll include the following:
- The set-up for the kiss
- The actual kiss, from beginning to end
- The aftermath of the kiss
Start by describing each act in simple language. Then, close your eyes and imagine it playing out. Finally, write down your observations and weave them into the narrative in a way that makes sense — with language that matches the overall mood.
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How to Describe a Kiss
To describe the perfect kiss, you’ll write about much more than the lips involved. If you’ve ever rewatched or reread a kissing scene, you’ll probably remember details related to the following;
- The head — tilting to the side, tilting back, leaning forward
- The eyes — soft, half-lidded, open, searching, shining
- The cheek — smooth, rough, leaning into the other’s hand
- The breath — stopping, catching, accelerating, gasping, shuddering
- The lips — soft, chapped, parting, open
- The tongue — darting, parting the lips, exploring
- The teeth — grazing, nibbling, gently nipping
- The skin — smooth, flushed, stubbly, warm/hot, cool, glistening
- The hands — reaching, clutching, running over, tearing, gripping, cupping, pulling
- The arms — wrapping, pulling closer, bracing
- The legs — shaking, buckling, wrapping
- Nonverbal vocalizations —moans, growls, groans, sighs
You get the idea. Other tell-tale body language includes leaning in, shivering, melting, falling into each other, clinging, pinioning, pressing together, etc.
If your mind is working on a scene right now, go ahead and get the words down. We’ll wait.
5 Kissing Scene Examples
You’ll get better at writing kissing scenes the more you practice. But some good examples help, too.
Example #1: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi
“And he’s kissing me. Once, twice, until I’ve had a taste and realize I’ll never have enough. He’s everywhere up my back and over my arms and suddenly he’s kissing me harder, deeper, with a fervent urgent need I’ve never known before….. “
This feels sudden mainly because all we have here is the main event. Suddenly, he’s kissing her, and she instantly realizes how badly she needs him to do that and more.
Example #2: Just One Day by Gayle Forman
“When he finally kisses my mouth, everything goes oddly quiet, like the moment of silence between lightning and thunder. One Mississippi. Two Mississippi. Three Mississippi. Four Mississippi. Five Mississippi.
We kiss again. The next kiss is the kind that breaks open the sky. It steals my breath and gives it back. It shows me that every other kiss I’ve had in my life has been wrong.
From the strange quiet of the first kiss to the explosive urgency of the next, the author punctuates that moment when both characters realize they’re all in.
Example #3: Gone With the Wind by Margaret Mitchell
“Before she could withdraw her mind from its far places, his arms were around her, as sure and hard as on the dark road to Tara, so long ago. She felt again the rush of helplessness, the sinking yielding, the surging tide of warmth that left her limp. And the quiet face of Ashley Wilkes was blurred and drowned to nothingness. He bent back her head across his arm and kissed her, softly at first, and then with a swift gradation of intensity that made her cling to him as the only solid thing in a dizzy swaying world. His insistent mouth was parting her shaking lips, sending wild tremors along her nerves, evoking from her sensations she had never known she was capable of feeling. And before a swimming giddiness spun her round and round, she knew that she was kissing him back.”
Scarlett may have been crushing hard on some pasty dude named Ashley, but Rhett Butler was exactly the man she never knew she needed. All he had to do was pull her into his arms, and that was it. Ashley who?
Example #4: Anna and the French Kiss by Stephanie Perkins
““Kiss me,” I say. He does.
We are kissing like crazy. Like our lives depend on it. His tongue slips inside my mouth, gentle but demanding, and it’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced, and I suddenly understand why people describe kissing as melting because every square inch of my body dissolves into his. My fingers grip his hair, pulling him closer. My veins throb and my heart explodes. I have never wanted anyone like this before. Ever.
He pushes me backward and we’re lying down, making out in front of the children with their red balloons and the old men with their chess sets and the tourists with their laminated maps and I don’t care, I don’t care about any of that. All I want is Étienne. The weight of his body on top of mine is extraordinary. I feel him—all of him—pressed against me, and I inhale his shaving cream, his shampoo, and that extra scent that’s just … him. The most delicious smell I could ever imagine.
I want to breathe him, lick him, eat him, drink him. His lips taste like honey. His face has the slightest bit of stubble and it rubs my skin but I don’t care, I don’t care at all. He feels wonderful. His hands are everywhere, and it doesn’t matter that his mouth is already on top of mine, I want him closer closer closer.”
The narrator is the one being kissed (by invitation), and she brings us all into the experience, detailing everything that draws her more deeply into it. She doesn’t overdo it with the details, but she includes everything that matters.
Example #5: Fangirl by Rainbow Rowell
“Cath closed the book and let it fall on Levi’s chest, not sure what happened next. Not sure she was awake, all things considered. The moment it fell he pulled her into him. Onto him. With both arms. Her chest pressed against his, and the paperback slid between their stomachs.
Cath’s eyes were half closed, and so were Levi’s and his lips only looked small from afar, she realized, because of their doll-like pucker. They were perfectly big, really, now that she had a good look at them. Perfectly something. He nudged his nose against hers, and their mouths fell sleepily together, already soft and open. When Cath’s eyes closed, her eyelids stuck. She wanted to open them. She wanted to get a better look at Levi’s too-dark eyebrows, she wanted to admire his crazy, vampire hairline—she had a feeling this was never going to happen again and that it might even ruin what was left of her life, so she wanted to open her eyes and bear some witness.
But she was so tired. And his mouth was so soft.
And nobody had ever kissed Cath like this before. Only Abel had kissed her before, and that was like getting pushed squarely on the mouth and pushing back.
Levi’s kisses were all taking. Like he was drawing something out of her with soft little jabs of his chin. She brought her fingers up to his hair, and she couldn’t open her eyes.”
Even without context, we get the feeling this kiss is something both characters were ready for as if gravity was all it took to finally close the gap. It reads like a sleepy kiss now, but if this weren’t a YA novel, the gentle “taking” could easily lead to something more.
Now that you know more than the basic basics on how to write a kissing scene your readers will want to read over and over again, we hope you’ll have a lot more fun writing them. After all, if you’re not having fun with it, your reader probably won’t, either.
May your kissing scenes be the stuff of every reader’s (secret) bucket list.