Fictional Friday: Kiss and Tell (Beth and Carla Talk Writing Romantic Moments, Part One)

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You are in for a treat for today’s Fictional Friday post! I’m so pleased to welcome a good friend, mentor, and all-around fabulous person, Beth K. Vogt. Beth is a non-fiction writer turned novelist, and when she does something, she does it in a big way! Her first two contemporary romance novels from Howard Books, Wish You Were Here and Catch A Falling Star, have gotten rave reviews, and I have it on good authority that we’ve got even more fun to look forward to next year!

When Beth and I get together, the conversation almost always gets a little giggle-worthy, so here’s a sneak peek of a conversation about one of our favorite writing topics: crafting memorable kisses!

Carla: Okay, Beth, I’ll admit it. I’d like to say that my favorite part of a romance novel is coming up with the settings and back stories and character arcs, but really… it’s that first kiss. The one that you spend half the book building up to. So my question for you, Beth: what makes for a great first kiss?

Beth: One disclaimer before I answer your question, Carla. I don’t think you have to wait until you’re halfway through a book to throw in a let-me-stop-and-reread-that-slowly kind of kiss. The hero and heroine of my debut novel were both surprised halfway through the first chapter by a kiss that rocked their world.

Carla: Okay, I have to admit, that was a good one. I reread that one more than once. And part of what made it so fun was the, ahem, forbidden aspect. Kissing the brother of your fiancé? Naughty, naughty.

Beth: Author Susan May Warren called that moment an “anti-kiss.” I called it one wild Inciting Incident. But back to your original question: The same things that make for an unforgettable real-life kiss are also true for a fictional kiss: a bit of eye-to-contact—before or after (never during!); add in some sensory aspects—he weaves his fingers through her hair or she notices how he smells like good, old-fashioned Ivory soap … and then …

Wait a minute, Carla. Weigh in here. When you write a kiss—any kiss—what is your one must-have element?

Carla: I love that turning point in a kiss when everything else goes away—worries, anticipation, whatever—and they just get caught up in the moment. How I write that moment is different depending on the characters. Sometimes it’s sweet, sometimes it’s a little more passionate. Alright, so… maybe I lean towards passionate more often than sweet.

What about you? You’ve written both sweet and spicy kisses in your books. Which is the most fun? And is one more difficult to write than the other?

Beth: Writing spicier kisses is definitely more difficult because, well, so many people are involved. Um, I better explain myself. When I write a kiss, I’m intimately involved with how it affects my imaginary hero and heroine, of course. And then I’m thinking about my readers … too spicy? Not enough spice? Everybody has preferences about kisses … How do you please everybody involved in the kiss? Do you find that you have to rewrite your kissing scenes, Carla, or are they perfect from the get-go?

Carla: Oh, no, I’m definitely a one-take wonder. *grins* If you believe that, I’ve got some lovely ocean-front real estate in Denver that might interest you. Of all my scenes, the romantic ones are the ones that get rewritten, tweaked, and revised the most. Like you said before, it’s difficult to strike the right balance: if the point of view is too intimate, the scene starts to feel uncomfortably voyeuristic. Not close enough, and the reader is left feeling ho-hum. I definitely don’t want anyone to finish reading a kiss and be anything less than thrilled that the characters finally got around to it, especially since I really like to build the tension leading up to it! But the most important thing for me is that it’s true and authentic to the characters’ personalities and relationships.

Besides, I think the way that characters approach kisses is an interesting part of their development. One of my characters in a WIP recently surprised me. I thought he was really reserved, until he grabbed the heroine and kissed her without warning. Do you ever find unexpected character traits coming out when writing romantic scenes and have to change course?

Beth: It’s fun to reveal character arc (how a character changes) through a kiss. And sometimes I highlight the tenor of the characters’ relationship through a kiss. I’ve written a kiss around “I’m not going to kiss you” and “I didn’t ask you to” because that was the emotional give and take of the hero and heroine’s relationship. But behind all that verbal sparring was a whole lot of attraction.

Carla: Oh yeah, I love those sorts of love-hate courtships. Reminds me of all the great old movies–which had some pretty great kisses themselves!

Well, I have lots more questions for Beth, but it’s time to get back to work writing those swoon-worthy kisses! Don’t forget to stop by next Friday for the second half of my coffee chat with Beth! But in the meantime, I have a question for you all:

What’s your favorite type of kiss: sweet, spicy, or in between?

[author] [author_image timthumb=’on’][/author_image] [author_info]Beth K. Vogt believes God’s best is often behind the doors marked “Never.” Despite being a nonfiction writer and editor who said she’d never write fiction, Beth’s second inspirational contemporary romance novel, Catch a Falling Star, released May 2013 from Howard Books. Beth is also the Skills Coach for My Book Therapy (MBT), best-selling author Susan May Warren’s writing community.[/author_info] [/author]

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  1. Jennifer Major says:

    Wow. Is it EVER warm in here?
    I need a fan…

    I’ve been married for 24 years.
    I am NOT telling anyone anything…
    OH? You meant a book kiss?
    Hmmm, must think about that…

    • Carla says:

      Ha! I’m just going to hand over the blog reins to you and Beth. You guys are johnny-on-the-spot this morning! Thanks for dropping by!

  2. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Thank you for joining the fun — and why am I not surprised you were the first one over here?! No insights to share, my friend?

    • Jennifer Major says:

      He breathed hard and quick, like he’d just broken the surface of the sea. His hands wandered up and down her back. His fingers wove up into her hair and back down across her ribs. His warm gaze washed over her, a lifetime of joy and want all wrapped up into one moment. He closed his eyes and brushed his lips on hers. So soft and so light, it was as if he was a mere dream, not the strongest man she’d ever known.
      Then, in a heartbeat, she tasted him. Then she pulled him closer and indulged in his warmth, savored his strength and returned his love. Tag’s restrained hunger flew Sarah away to where she had never been before and where she wanted to stay forever.

  3. Gwendolyn Gage says:

    Great stuff, Beth and Carla! I like the spicier kisses. 😉 In fact, if I get past the half-way mark in a novel and just get “he kissed her”, I want to throw the book. The first kiss is a big deal to the characters, and if I’ve spent that much time investing in the character and their romance, I want it to be a big deal to me too.

    • Carla says:

      I’m usually like that too, especially if there’s a lot of build-up to that moment. I want it to be memorable! More gentle reads, I give some leeway, because I’m not expecting that. 🙂

  4. Cynthia Herron says:

    Wow! Do I suddenly need a sip of iced tea!!

    Me? Kiss and tell? (Never!) Unless… you’ve got really good chocolate! LOL

    Super thoughts. (I’m going to ponder this one all afternoon.) 🙂

  5. Tiffany Amber Stockton says:

    Hmm, I’m one who doesn’t necessarily like to read the spicy kissing scenes that make you wish the pair would move behind a closed door somewhere, but I do love to read the passionate and emotion-filled kisses. The sweet ones are nice in the right place, and my first 13 books were the “sweet” nature because of the restrictions from my publishing house. But that didn’t mean I didn’t throw in a passionate one too. 🙂

    When I have the looser reins from my editor, I can explore more and have fun. But I still keep it clean and tasteful and avoid the voyeuristic explorations.

    Of course, I’ve only been married for 6 years, so who knows what will happen the further I go in my writing career. *winks*

    • Jennifer Major says:

      Call me…I shaved that down…

    • Carla says:

      Well, we have to frame the word “spicy” as it is in the inspirational market. What we’d consider a passionate is positively squeaky-clean in the general market! After thirteen books, I’d say you’re probably a pretty good kiss-scene-writer yourself!

      Next week we’re talking about exactly what you brought up about lines and avoiding that voyeuristic sort of feeling. I bet you’ll have lots to add!

  6. Beth K. Vogt says:

    Excellent insights shared by everyone today.
    And yes, probably some readers would consider my “spicy” kisses positively tame.
    For me, it is about the emotions that have led up to the kiss. The relationship that has led them there …
    True in real life?
    True in fiction.

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