• Ivy L. James

How to Write a Great Kissing Scene

Updated: Jan 29

"Is this a kissing book?" Hell yeah it is, son. And we're gonna make it fan-h*cking-tastic.


Anyone can write the words "They kissed." But it takes a finer touch to create the full moment, to ensnare both the characters and the reader.


Guess what? We're about to cover everything you need to know about how to do it.




4 aspects to consider as you write a kissing scene

As you craft your perfect fictional kiss, consider these 4 things:

  1. The type of kiss (awkward, sweet, or steamy)

  2. Each stage of the kiss

  3. The location context of the kiss

  4. The couple's background and personalities


The 3 types of kiss scenes

Which type of kiss are you writing? This will dramatically affect how it plays out.

  1. Awkward

  2. Sweet

  3. Steamy

And don't forget, you can (and should) vary the types of kisses your couple has throughout the story.

This helps keep the relationship realistic. Plus, their chemistry will evolve as they progress. Noice.


Awkward kiss scenes

Awkward kisses have their place, and they can be great for a story.


First, though, ask yourself, Is this couple endgame?

  • If yes, play the awkwardness as endearing. Frame it as "Aww, it wasn't exactly perfect but it's cute and I love you"

  • If no, emphasize the awkwardness. Frame it as "Oh, eh, well. I guess that happened."

Note: If your couple starts out awkward, they can ONLY progress from awkward to sweet to steamy (if they get steamy at all). They gotta figure out how to kiss. They CANNOT jump straight from awkward to steamy.


Some things that could happen during an awkward kiss:

  • They bump noses or teeth together

  • They have lurching or jerky motions

  • They aren't sure what to do with their hands

  • They might not close their eyes at first ("shit, do I close my eyes? Are they looking at me? What's happening aghhhh")

Important: NO tongue slippage (unless you SPECIFICALLY want to cross over into Gross territory)


Sweet kiss scenes

These are Hallmark-movie kisses. Gentle and G-rated and cute.

Note: If your couple tends to be friendly/gentle/sweet, you may wanna eventually include passionate kissing to showcase their chemistry.


Some things that could happen during a sweet kiss:

  • Hands in G-rated places: shoulders, face, or waist (or their arms might just be wrapped around each other)

  • They might back up against something, but no one is PINNED

  • Any tongue action is very minor (no tonsil hockey)

  • If they run their hands through each other's hair, they don't PULL

  • A hint of sexual chemistry, if anything (no bump and grind)

  • They might progress to gentle slow kisses on the jaw or neck, but not much more than that


Steamy kiss scenes

With these kisses, they gettin' the booty (or at least they want to).


And as it happens, these are my absolute favorite kisses to write. They're just so much fun!

Note: if a couple starts out more passionate/sex-driven, they gotta end up with some sweet kisses mixed in to show real feelings developing.


Some things that could happen during a steamy kiss:

  • Hands are anywhere and everywhere: on the ass, on the chest, up their shirt, knotted in their hair, over their pants, or maybe even down their pants (hon hon hon)

  • High likelihood that someone is pushed up against something

  • One of them has their thigh between the other person's thighs

  • Lots of tongue and """"exploratory"""" kisses

  • They feel like they're burning up on the inside, not just warm and fuzzy

  • Their bodies feel heavy/aching

  • Their nether regions are probably lighting up like the Fourth of July lol

  • They're pressed up very close/flush together. Probably grinding.

  • Heaving breathing, panting, and/or gasping

  • One of them might pin the other one's body or hands (in a sexy way, with consent, not genuinely preventing them from anything)

Basically, steamy kisses are an excuse for me to waggle my eyebrows and say "hon hon hon" all the time. A+


The 3 parts of a kiss scene

The 3 stages of every kiss scene:

  1. The immediate buildup

  2. The actual kiss

  3. The immediate aftermath


The immediate buildup

The short-term buildup is what happens right before the kiss begins (or WHY it begins).

  1. Is it a "surprise" kiss, or do they take their time?

  2. Have they had almost-kisses, or have they just been looking at each other longingly from across the table?

  3. How long has this kiss been building up?

So ask yourself: HOW does the kiss begin?


You always gotta include thoughts, glances, and little touches beforehand to show that they're thinking about kissing the other person. Literally every time, ya gotta.

You want the reader to anticipate it just as much as the characters, if not more.


When I say "surprise" kiss, I mean it starts quickly after the consent confirmation. NOT "oh dear lord they're kissing um okay I guess this is a thing we're doing now."


For contrast, if they take their time after confirming consent, they might caress each other, stare deeply into each other's eyes, etc., before actually kissing.


If they've had almost-kisses before this, they're probably a little frustrated and a lot interested in finally getting there. The kiss will reflect that.


And in case I wasn't clear enough: don't forget to include active, enthusiastic consent before they get to smoochin'!

  1. Verbal/verbal example: Character A says, "Can I kiss you?" Character B says, "Hell yeah!"

  2. Verbal/nonverbal example: Character A says, "I'd like to kiss you." Character B pulls them in for a kiss.


The actual kiss

#1: Want to write something awkward?


An awkward kiss is usually short. Only be a peck. Maaayyyybe a little longer if they're waiting for something to happen.

Depending on the couple, they might try it and be like "okay. we did that. uhhhh moving on" OR "okay, let's adjust and do it again." The latter option will transition into a more comfortable kissing experience, from awkward to awkward-sweet.


#2: Want to write something sweet?


A sweet kiss will focus on their feelings toward each other. They'll have thoughts like "I'm so happy" or "I'm warm from the inside out." Emphasis on gentle and emotional and sweet.

A sweet kiss could go on for a short or medium length of time, but probably not LONG, since it's not leading up to anything. They're kissing just for the sake of kissing.


#3: Wanna get it on—uh, I mean, write something steamy?

A steamy kiss will be, by definition, passionate as hell.


They do still have thoughts and feelings mixed in there, but they tend more towards "holy shit I want you so much, get in my pants" than (in a Snow White voice) "oh I'm just so happy wheeee."


Steamy kisses tend to last a medium to long time if the characters aren't interrupted. They are into it.


The immediate aftermath

I'm not going to go into the long-term relationship aftermath. That's outside the scope of this discussion.


The immediate aftermath is what happens right after the kiss ends (or WHY it ends).

  1. Are they interrupted?

  2. Does one of them pull away?

  3. Do they both pull away?

  4. Does it fade to black?

So ask yourself: HOW does the kiss end?


If they're interrupted, the characters will respond in different ways depending on the type of kiss:

  • Awkward kiss: They're probably embarrassed. They might even feel bad that THAT was the kiss they had.

  • Sweet kiss: They might blush and be like (Southern belle voice) "Oh my! I cannot believe!"

  • Steamy kiss: They're probably red in the face, panting, clothes and hair disheveled, and ticked off ("how dare you come between me and the booty!")


If one of them pulls back before the other, why?

  • Are they uncomfortable?

  • Did they suddenly think of something ("oh shit I have homework due in an hour")?

  • Are they checking in to make sure the other person is comfortable?

  • If it's a steamy kiss, did they pull back bc they had a FEELING??? If so, I LOVE IT


If they both pull back, why?

  • Does it just feel done?

  • Do they both want to check in on each other?

  • Did they have a time limit?

Fade to black can imply that they go canoodle.

(This is especially handy if you know the characters WOULD have sex but you don't want to write it.)


Or it can just be the end of the scene.


So many options, so little time.


The location context of the kiss

All settings boil down to these 4 categories:

  1. Public

  2. Semi-public

  3. Semi-private

  4. Private

How does that translate to real life (well, fictionally real)?


A public location for a kiss

A public setting means either they're surrounded by people or they have the potential to be. A party, a store, a workplace, so on, so forth, etc., et al.


How this applies: Most public kisses will be brief and non-steamy. Don't make those poor strangers have to watch your OTP play tonsil hockey.


A semi-public location for a kiss

A semi-public setting means they're in a public place BUT they're away from the main part of the group. They're off to the side, around a corner, in a side room, or otherwise slightly separate.


It's not PRIVATE. Anyone could come around and see them. Still, it's a little more secluded than just being out in public.


How this applies: Your semi-public kiss will depend on the couple. They might share a sweet kiss, make out, or straight-up bone in an alcove (although that last one's dangerous for any innocent passersby).


Just keep in mind that anyone (including a stranger) could easily find them. Which makes for quite the post-kiss drama. Ohoho.


A semi-private location for a kiss

A semi-private setting means that they're in a more personal/private location BUT there may still be other people around (although not strangers).


Think of their house: a living room, a kitchen, pretty much anywhere that isn't a bedroom.

How this applies: Your semi-private kiss can tend toward the steamier end of the spectrum if that's what you're feeling. Hehehe. Still, a relative could walk into the room or a friend could show up at the door.


A private location for a kiss

A private setting means they are truly on their own. In their own room (or home if they live alone), door closed, no one around. Candles and rose petals and, like, a saxophone playing. Bom chicka wow wow!


How this applies: Your characters can do literally anything with that private kiss. Go wild, my children!


How the couple's background affects a kiss scene

Consider these aspects as much as the physical kiss:

  1. Long-term buildup

  2. Each person's individual personality

  3. Their personality as a couple


The couple's long-term buildup

#1: How long have they been waiting for this kiss?


A long-anticipated kiss can come together in a rush of heat as they finally, finally, finally get their hands on each other.

If they kissed five minutes ago, it might not be so dramatic.


#2: How well do their bodies know each other?


Is this their first kiss? Their tenth? Their fiftieth?


A couple that's been together for 3 years won't have an awkward kiss unless it's a reflection of them growing apart.


A first kiss might be any of the three romantic types. However, even if it's a stupendous kiss, they haven't had time to learn each other. They'll hone their techniques as time goes on.


Each person's individual personality

If you have two lovers of the same romantic personality type (awkward, sweet, or steamy), the kissing will progress from that type.

  • Two awkward people start awkward.

  • Two sweet people start sweet.

  • Two steamy people start steamy.

If the lovers have different romantic personalities (1 sweet and 1 steamy, etc.), it'll depend on which person takes the lead. Or which one is ALLOWED to take the lead, as the case may be.


A couple personal examples!

  1. In one of my original romance novels, Dmitri is sweeter and Julie runs steamier. Julie calls the shots, so they're pretty steamy from the get-go.

  2. In one of my Percy Jackson fanfics from back in the day, Jason is sweet and Piper is steamy. BUT here's the thing! Piper lets Jason dictate how fast they move, so they start sweet and work their way up.


Their personality as a couple

You'll want to consider the couple's romantic/sexual personality as a pair, not just their individual personalities (although both are important).


Has their relationship as a WHOLE been awkward, sweet, or steamy so far?


A generally sexy couple has a sweet kiss? That'll play COMPLETELY differently than a generally sweet couple doing the same.

Use contrast to your advantage!


Recap of how to write a kiss

Preparing to write a smooch? Lay out these aspects for yourself, and feel the magic:

  1. Whether the kiss is awkward, sweet, or steamy

  2. What happens right before, during, and right after the kiss

  3. The general location of the kiss

  4. The couple's background and romantic personalities

Now go forth and craft your fictional babies' perfect kiss, you romantic genius.

I believe in you!

"Make the Yuletide Gay" is now out in the world! Add it to your TBR list on Goodreads. Read Chapter One for free: Chapter 1: “Good Sir, That's a Lotta Snow”!


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