How To Write The Best Kissing Scene (Tips, Expressions & Examples For Writers)
Pucker up, ladies and gents, it’s about to get steamy!
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In today’s article we’ll learn:
- How to write a romantic & steamy kissing scene
- Descriptive adjectives and expressions for a kissing scene
- The difference between YA (Young Adult) and NA (New Adult) and their approach to kissing and romance
- Describing a kissing scene from different POV (Points Of View) first and third person narrative
- Integrating similes and metaphors in kissing scenes
- Integrating dialogue in a kissing scene
- How to build momentum for a kissing scene in writing
- Examples of kissing scenes in novels
And let’s not wait a second longer and dive (lips first) into the kissing booth.
Before setting the scene, we have to build momentum (friction, drama, tension, stolen glances between your characters, etc.). If you’re writing Romance, it’s clear your novel should be sprinkled with enough smooching to satisfy readers of the genre, however, YA or NA power couples never have it easy.
There will always be obstacles in the way of their happily ever after: Edward is a vampire, Christian Grey has his demons, Peeta and Katniss are supposed to kill each other in the Hunger Games, Peter Kavinsky’s fake romance with Lara Jean starts as a total playoff to make his ex jealous.
And don’t even remind me of Jace and Clary – they find out they are brother and sister!! Jamie and Claire come from different centuries, I mean OMG!
Defining the clear obstacles only add to the story, so before they start “playin’ kissy-kissy, smoochy-smoochy, talkin’ mooshy-mooshy bout nothin’” the author needs to introduce the characters, the key traits that make their personality unique and take them through some ups and downs before getting them lip-to-lip & toe-to-toe.
Another important factor to keep in mind is your readership. If you’re writing in the Romance genre, readers want romance. For Fantasy, Science Fiction, Street-lit, etc. the emotional development between the characters is prevalent and the romantic physical interaction is mostly present as a nice cherry on top of everything else.
Although not set in stone, NA novels tend to be a bit more graphic with the physical description of the evolving romance because the characters are at that age when they can be experimenting with sex, relationships, etc. That doesn’t necessarily mean erotica, there can be sex without going in deep into the motion of the ocean.
YA on the other hand is usually at the first love stage. While the Twilight saga is all about the innocence, butterflies and no sex before marriage, the Lux saga is all the opposite, featuring Kat and Daemon in full makeout mode throughout the story, and therefore plenty of kissing to go with it.
What Kind Of Kiss Are We Talking About?
Defining the type of kiss is imperative, so let’s tackle the difference between a romantic vs a steamy kissing scene. If what you’re writing has a romantic element to it and your characters have fallen for each other, you need to build that much desired anticipation before the kiss, those initial elements of attraction that will set the tone for the rest of the story.
And if you’re curious to find out What Makes A Novel Romantic, Steamy Or Erotic, click away.
Now, back to the kissing booth:
Carl kissed Lucy twice.
If this ain’t the village bulletin board, then you need to elaborate on that because there’s nothing we love more than reading a fab kissing scene.
Maybe time stopped when his lips met hers, but the flutter only intensified. Lucy’s heart pounded in her chest as her knees got weaker. She could only focus on how soft he felt against her mouth, how addictively he invaded all her senses.
It still wasn’t clear if she dreamed this moment to life, but there was raw emotion in the way his fingers curled around hers. Carl kept his eyes half open, sneaking a guilty peek at her every time he came back for air, just to make sure this wasn’t a product of his imagination.
He wasn’t sure if nature rooted for this moment or if his mind tricked him into a perfect present, but every breath he took smelled like jasmine and for the first time since he’d known himself, he didn’t feel shy. If anything, the warm feeling of her breath, although destabilizing, was inviting. This time around he draped both arms around Lucy’s small frame and met her lips again halfway.
That’s more like it. There’s flutter, an accelerated heartbeat, the weak knees. The word-building paints a picture of how both characters are feeling, and although the focus is not on the kiss itself, it is on the growing emotion between the two.
Now let’s take the same characters and heat things up just a notch:
Heat rose from Lucy’s stomach to her chest. Carl’s lips were getting closer and her heart decided to skip a beat, the smell of him hypnotic beyond reason. She parted her lips and felt him washing over like a wave of warmth, curling her toes, unfurling all her senses as the taste of him nearly silenced all thoughts.
Her whole body tingled, the feel of his frame leaning on hers as his arms wrapped around her felt nearly forbidden. He pulled her in, claiming her mouth again, hungry and intense, until her knees gave in. By the time Lucy became aware of her fingers, they had already slipped under his shirt, his skin smooth and radiating heat.
As if time had sopped right there, as they stood propped against his car, glued to one another. As if no one else existed and there was no risk of her parents watching the show from behind their curtains. And for Carl, as if he’d never been shy to begin with.
The focus switches from not only the emotion unfolding between the two, but how their bodies react to the kiss, making this scene a tad more steamy than romantic. The examples above are 3rd person narrative.
Both Carl’s and Lucy’s perspectives are being described, so you can safely move between the emotions of your characters as long as the transition is smooth and you don’t make it read like a table tennis match.
The secret when it comes to writing a kissing scene is in the word-building, the flow, the cascading of emotions and chain reactions which trigger feelings, inner turmoil and realization. There are tons of ways to describe kissing, these are only a few examples.
A kiss can be: fervent, fierce, fiery, brief, bruising, burning, deep, delicate, delicious, demanding, desperate, gentle, hearty, heated, hungry, innocent, intense, intimate, lingering, long, passionate, possessive, scorching, searing, secret, sensual, silent, sloppy, slow, stolen, sudden, sweet, swift, tender, tentative, thorough, toe-curling, thrilling;
The body language when kissing is extremely important. Revealing how your characters react to each other is imperative:
- time stopped in a collision of senses when his lips met hers
- her heart skipped a beat; she gasped/moaned/made a throaty sound
- her knees gave in/ he weakened her core
- his fingers moved/explored/traveled/sank in her skin with a mind of their own
When the kiss is happening don’t neglect:
- The inner turmoil (stomach twisting in a knot, fluttering, insecurity or overconfidence)
- The surroundings (introduce your characters, set the tone, build the intensity, the smell, sound)
- Becoming aware of the partner (their smell, the feel of their skin, hair, features, what they are wearing, touch)
- The following actions and the emotions they trigger while the lips are in perfect sync (the hyperventilating, knees melting, brain death, LOL)
Metaphors And Similes
I feel like these two deserve a lot of attention because they help color your writing and achieve that desired effect which really pulls the reader in. It allows you, the author to figuratively paint the most accurate picture of your characters and the scene you are describing by avoiding simple, (boring) technical descriptions.
It’s what helps you provide that vivid imagery and spices up your writing style. Pay attention though, playing with the right proportion is key as too many metaphors and similes can achieve a much too theatrical effect. And because beauty is in the eye of the beholder, your beta-readers are going to notice if you went overboard or managed to stay afloat in this alchemy of description.
“A metaphor is a figure of speech that describes an object or action in a way that isn’t literally true but helps explain an idea or make a comparison.”
Carl is a bad person.
Carl is a bad apple. / Carl is the black sheep in his family. (metaphor)
I don’t like Carl.
Carl is the Monday of my life. (metaphor)
Carl is a good kisser.
Carl’s kisses are black holes pulling you in until all gravity is lost under his touch. (metaphor)
“A simile compares two things that share a common feature. The words “as” and “like” are used to compare the two things.”
Lucy has great lips.
Lucy’s lips were like a Summer rain, pouring over his as if they had the power to take away and give back life. (simile)
Carl is infatuated with Lucy.
Carl looks at Lucy like at his very own Mecca in the flesh. (simile)
(Kissing) Scene Management For 1st Person and 3rd Person Narrative
The difference here is that the 1st person narrative places the reader in the main character’s shoes while 3rd person narrative puts the reader in the same setting as the characters, as a spectator.
Third person narrative (although described as an outsider looking in) is more offering, given that you can describe more than one point of view. I don’t believe in a completely detached 3rd person narrative, and I found it as an appropriate choice for Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance.
Let’s take one of the examples above and give it a makeover:
Heat rose from Lucy’s stomach to her chest. Carl’s lips were getting closer and her heart decided to skip a beat, the smell of him hypnotic beyond reason. She parted her lips and felt him washing over like a wave of warmth, curling her toes, unfurling all her senses as the taste of him nearly silenced all thoughts. She wanted more. (III)
Heat rose from my stomach to my chest and my heart definitely skipped a beat as Carl’s lips were closing in. The smell filled my nostrils to the point of near brain death. He was so close. That was it – at that very moment his lips brushed over mine like a wave of warmth and all my body reacted to him instinctively. My toes curled, my eyes zeroed in on his, his smell even more hypnotic. The taste of him… it silenced my thoughts and made me want more. (I)
What’s better, first or third person narrative? Well, I guess it all comes down to preference for both author and reader. As a writer, go with what’s comfy for your first novel, you’ll have plenty of time to explore more possibilities later.
Kissing Quotes From Books
And now, let’s see how other writers have tackled kissing. Here it goes!
“And then he’s kissing me back, open-mouthed, soft-lipped kissing-me-back, and at first I’m nervous, but then he puts his hand on the back of my head, and he strokes my hair in a reassuring way, and I’m not so nervous anymore.”
― Jenny Han, To All The Boys I’ve Loved Before
Jenny Han does an incredible job describing teenage love & angst. Although the romance started out as an innocent mutual agreement between Peter and Lara Jean to make Peter’s ex jealous & avoid any possible conversation between Lara Jean and Josh (remember the troublesome letter Josh accidentally received), certain feelings got in the way.
Three books and a Netflix success later, fans are still hyped over this young couple and Jenny Han’s talent to depict this very sweet story, cannot be ignored.
“He entered in a wave that hit her like a ripple of softener and rain as he slammed the door shut. She stood there, heart thumping in her chest, pressed against the wall as he’d seen her for the first time. There was no terror clouding her features, just the sound of her heart loud enough for him to feel, strong enough to overwhelm everything but those inquisitive green eyes.
She liked to talk and he didn’t; she was a hybrid and he wasn’t; she steadied herself and he didn’t, allowing the magnetic pull he felt within to pull him close to Zoey until the distance between their eyes narrowed along with the space between their bodies.
“I’d like to kiss you without asking permission, but I can’t…” She couldn’t control the flutter within, the lump in her throat, the violent heartbeat. “I shouldn’t…” He swallowed hard as his hand slid fast on the white satin, sending impulses to her spine as he pressed a little harder against her until their cheeks brushed. “I won’t…” he parted to look at her, “if you don’t want me to.”
Adrenaline rush. So much of it that she nearly forgot to breathe, eyes jumping from his lips to his eyes, her heart a ticking bomb.
Holy Mother of… She gave in, parting her lips only to feel his pressing like an artist’s brush against her canvas, intense, smooth but contained until her hands, with a mind of their
own, took hold of him and everything accelerated.
The kettle whistled. His thumb was throbbing at the hollow of her neck, rubbing up and down, pulsing warmth as his tongue conquered the depths of her mouth, hungry, consuming, pulling her into the warmth of him as if he mastered the balance of gravity.
“You shouldn’t have kissed me like that!” She found herself gasping, caught between an array of feelings and trying to regain sense in his arms.
His half-closed eyes were now wide open. “How…how would you like to be kissed?” An alarming curiosity washed over his features, he was scanning her for answers.
Zoey was stunned—at herself, at the amber flickering overpowering her consciousness, at the enticing flavor of the foreign lips she found herself longing for. It took a split second to give into them again, surrendering to the downward force pulling her under.
He pushed her upwards, allowing her legs to cross around his waist, and parted only to look at her flurried face, searching for reassurance. She did like being kissed.
Giddiness took over both of them as they mirrored a dumbstruck smile and
lightness. Whatever rush this was, whatever his lips brought, she wanted more.”
“Okay.” I bounced down the stairs. “I’m decent.”
He was waiting at the foot of the stairs, closer than I’d thought, and I bounded right into him. He steadied me, holding me a careful distance away for a few seconds before suddenly pulling me closer.
“Wrong again,” he murmured in my ear. “You are utterly indecent – no one should look so tempting, it’s not fair.”
“Tempting how?” I asked. “I can change . . .”
He sighed, shaking his head. “You are so absurd.” He pressed his cool lips delicately to my forehead, and the room spun. The smell of his breath made it impossible to think.
“Shall I explain how you are tempting me?” he said. It was clearly a rhetorical question. His fingers traced slowly down my spine, his breath coming more quickly against my skin. My hands were limp on his chest, and I felt ligtheaded again. He tilted his head slowly and touched his cool lips to mine for the second time, very carefully, parting them slightly.
And then I collapsed.”
― Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
Edward and Bella’s love is less on the PDA and more on the inner turmoil. Nevertheless, they do share plenty of quirky, adorable moments.
“I forced a laugh. “I’m totally not attracted to you.”
Another step forward on Daemon’s side, and my back was against the wall. “You’re lying.”
“And you’re overconfident.” I inhaled, but all I smelled was him, and that did funny things to my stomach. “You know, the whole arrogant thing I mentioned. Not attractive.”
Daemon placed his hands on each side of my head and leaned in. A lamp was on one side of me, and the T.V. on the other. I was trapped. And when he spoke, his breath danced over my lips. “Every time you lie, your cheeks turn red.”
“Nuh-uh.” Not the most eloquent thing I’d ever said, but it was the best I could come up with.
His hands slid down the wall, stopping beside my hips. “I bet you think about me all the time. Nonstop.”
“You’re insane.” I pressed back against the wall, breathless.
“You probably even dream about me.” His gaze lowered to my mouth. I felt my lips part. “I bet you even write my name in your notebooks, over and over again, with a little heart drawn around it.”
I laughed. “In your dreams, Daemon. You’re the last person I think—”
Daemon kissed me.
There wasn’t a moment of hesitation. His mouth was on mine, and I stopped breathing. He shuddered and there was a sound from the back of his throat, half growl, half moan. Little shivers of pleasure and panic shot through me as he deepened the kiss, parting my lips. I stopped thinking. I pushed off the wall, sealing the tiny space between us, pressing against him, digging my fingers into his hair. It was soft, silky. Nothing else about him felt that way. I sparked alive, my heart swelled to the point of near bursting. The rush of sensations crawling across my body was maddening. Scary. Thrilling.
His hands were on my hips, and he lifted me up as if I were made of air. My legs wrapped around his waist, and we moved to the right, knocking into a floor lamp. It toppled over, but I didn’t spare it another thought. A light popped somewhere in the house. The TV turned on, then off, back on. Our lips remained sealed. It was like we couldn’t get enough of each other. We were devouring one another, drowning in each other.
We’d been building up to this for months, and oh my God was it worth the wait. And I wanted more.
Lowering my hands, I tugged at his shirt, but it was stuck under my legs. I wiggled down until my feet were on the floor. Then I got a hold of his shirt and yanked it up. He broke apart long enough to pull it over his head and toss it aside. His hands slid around my head, pulling me back to his mouth. There was a cracking sound in the house. A fissure of electricity shot through the room. Something smoked. But I didn’t care. We were moving backward.
His hands were moving down, under my shirt, his fingers skimming over my skin, sending a rush of blood to every part of my body. And my hands went down. His stomach was hard, dipped and rippled in all the right places. And then my shirt joined his on the floor. Skin against skin. His hummed, brimming full of power. I ran my fingers down his chest, to the button on his jeans.
The back of my legs hit the couch and we went down, a tangle of legs and hands moving, exploring. Our hips were molded together and we moved against one another. I think I whispered his name, and then his arms tightened around me, crushing me against his chest and his hands slipped between my legs. And I was swimming in raw sensations.
“So beautiful,” he murmured against my swollen lips. And then he was kissing me again. The deep kind of kisses that left little room for thought. There was only feeling and wanting. That was all. I wrapped my legs around his hips, pulling him closer, telling him what I wanted with my soft moans.
Our kisses slowed, becoming tender and infinitely more. It was like we were getting to know each other on an intimate level. I was breathless and dazed, unprepared for all of this, but my body ached for more than just kisses and touching—for more of him. And I knew he did, too. His powerful body shook like mine. It was easy to get lost in him, lost in this connection between us. The world—the universe—ceased to exist.”
Have a look at how dialogue has been integrated as a fundamental element to the build-up, contributing to the heat of the moment. Armentrout, you rock! Wish I read your novels before releasing mine. This YA is full of sexual tension between the main characters & it’s fast paced as well. A recipe for success.
“He bent down, his lips against her cheek, brushing it lightly—and still that light touch sent shivers through her nerves, shivers that made her whole body tremble. ‘If you want me to stop, tell me now,’ he whispered. When she still said nothing, he brushed his mouth against the hollow of her temple. ‘Or now.’ He traced the line of her cheekbone. ‘Or now.’ His lips were against hers.
But she had reached up and pulled him down to her, and the rest of his words were lost against her mouth. He kissed her gently, carefully, but it wasn’t gentleness she wanted, not now, not after all this time, and she knotted her fists in his shirt, pulling him harder against her. He groaned softly, low in his throat, and then his arms circled her, gathering her against him, and they rolled over on the grass, tangled together, still kissing.”
Talk about playing with the readers’ feelings! Cassandra Clare had our hearts shrink with the growing romance between Jace and Clary. When they found out they were brother and sister, I too was devastated. Her novels are on the adventurous side, action packed and great plot, the romance however, comes in small but intense doses.
“I was thinking there was something I wanted to try.” And he took my face in his hands again.
I couldn’t breathe.
He hesitated – not in the normal way, the human way.
Not the way a man might hesitate before he kissed a woman, to gauge her reaction, to see how he would be received. Perhaps he would hesitate to prolong the moment, that ideal moment of anticipation, sometimes better than the kiss itself.
Edward hesitated to test himself, to see if this was safe, to make sure he was still in control of his need. And then his cold, marble lips pressed very softly against mine.
What neither of us was prepared for was my response.
Blood boiled under my skin, burned in my lips. My breath came in a wild gasp. My fingers knotted in his hair, clutching him to me. My lips parted as I breathed in his heady scent.”
― Stephenie Meyer, Twilight
“His thumb brushes my lower lip, and I hear his breath hitch. He’s staring into my eyes, and I hold his anxious, burning gaze for a moment or maybe it’s forever… but eventually, my attention is drawn to his beautiful mouth… And for the first time in twenty-one years, I want to be kissed. I want to feel his mouth on me.”
Well, to be perfectly honest, I haven’t read Fifty shades yet, but it’s on my list!
“He took a step in her direction, feeling her accelerated pulse from the distance. “I could freeze you.” His voice was calm yet intimidating, like saying “dare me.”
She didn’t allow his eyes to disarm her. “I could fry you!” She pushed her chest forward in a menacing glare. There was determination in the way she said “fry” and he felt it plenty just hours earlier. He took another step forward.
She was trapped between him and the footboard of the bed. Half a step forward would cause immediate collision, sending her nose straight into his chest; half a step back and she’d land legs-up on her duvet cover, her oversized shirt not long enough to guarantee decency in the fall.
She could have moved to the side but she was struck by the proximity of everything he was, her senses subdued by this staggering rush of adrenaline, fluttering from her curls to her toes. There was no time for thoughts as she launched herself at his lips, letting go of whatever had taken hold of her seconds ago.
Transfixed, his thoughts were silenced by her taste as if taking an adrenaline shot, as if her lips sunk in a perfect fit, as if it wasn’t wrong. She did it again under his wide eyes and benumbing brain, too astounded to mentally process her actions yet bewildered at the response of his senses and how they surrendered under the witchery of her lips. The air got thinner.
Jasper’s lips crushed on hers unrestrained, he cupped her face with both hands as her fingers slid along the sculpted forearms to meet his for a brief moment until she nudged him forward, propelling them both onto her bed. Unlocking his lips from hers, he pulled her further up on the duvet solely to immerse himself in another kiss under her dilated pupils a second later.
Heat rose from every inch of himself he was no longer able to control. There was nothing but the sound of her gasps drawing him in, awakening something feral within. Whatever this was, it was pulling her in, the urgency of those perfect lips sinking in as if consuming her core, the way his body pressed against hers, warm and untamed. If hearts could explode, hers could detonate right now.
Insane. This was insane and he was half-mad for allowing it to happen. Instinct was not supposed to dictate over logic but, then again, that might just be another one of her superpowers. He’d never wanted someone so…violently.
There was a little inner fight with every button he released from the buttonholes of her loose shirt starting from the last in line. No room for words, yet she wondered why he seemed to be contemplating every button after she had sent his shirt and waistcoat flying in what she calculated as half a second. He sent her freckles ablaze as his lips made a run for her neck, melting into her flesh, making her moan.
Staring into her eyes made him feel guilty—guilty of being fully aware that she was now exposed under his touch except for her pink bikini briefs. Her hands were everywhere. He skipped a beat, straddling her in a swift move while cuffing her arms with a hand above the head, taking her again into the warmth of his mouth.”
— Esther Rabbit (Lost in Amber: An Out Of This World Paranormal Romance, #1))
“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.”
This one is also on my to read list, but the kissing scene is definitely promising.
Now go write that masterpiece and let me know how it turned out!
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And if you’re a fan of Paranormal Romance, check out Lost in Amber:
“A new Interplanetary Alliance ambassador on an earthbound mission.
A handful of genetically altered humans to be rescued.
Meeting her changed everything.“