Writing the Critical First Kiss
When it comes to definitive moments in film and literature, the first kiss is a daunting mountain to scale. For a director or actor, the first kiss must convey the chemistry and memorability of the people they portray. The success of such a critical moment on film is often owed to that sought after, golden gift of tangible and undeniable heat between two actors. The kiss that steals the breath of the audience, is nearly as good as an Academy Award, for the couple that burns the screen becomes something far greater than a golden statue: they become unforgettable.
If the perfect filmed kiss, is hard to achieve (with its coordinated lighting, flattering camera angles and flowing music), then the soul-twisting written kiss, is even harder to pen. Constricted by only the inky black letters of the alphabet, the writer must orchestrate the music, convey the camera and (most importantly), create a passion that cannot be forgotten. We create the chemistry, within an often fictional realm, between people who do not truly exist. We want characters who will haunt the reader long after the last word has been read.
For the YA author, such a moment walks a super-fine line between too much ecstasy and not nearly enough. The irony is, that even in G-rated animation, I have seen some serious liplocks (TANGLED comes to mind). Television sets the bar higher, even on Nickelodeon or the Disney channel. I am not implying that the entire book must be judge on this one kiss, but a kiss represents the chemistry a writer has created between the characters. Get it right (hello Twilight, Fallen and Romeo and Juliet), and YA can become a crossover. Get it wrong, and even a great storyline can be derailed completely. The first kiss, quite simply, is critical.
So how does a YA author attempt to write such an intimate, sensual moment on a one-dimension page without jumping to a virtual R-rating? The simplest answer is to remember what is conveyed through a kiss. When I wrote (and re-wrote 60 times) the scene for Eila and Raef, I thought of their kiss as a recipe. A recipe that would cause the reader to (hopefully) hold their breath, and create a moment that showed their forbidden heat for one another.
CRITICAL, FIRST KISS RECIPE:
1 cup HISTORY – the establishment of chemistry and love WITHOUT the kiss.
1 cup HUNGER – the drive to consume the other person on a mental and physical level.
1/2 cup PAIN – the seizing of the heart from finally connecting, combined with ingredient 1.
1/4 cup BODY – the sweeping need to touch more than just lips.
1/4 cup OWNERSHIP – the moment the initiating character realizes that the person they kiss, is the one they wish to lock within their heart, forever.
3 tbs SELFISHNESS – the understanding that we kiss to bring pleasure to ourselves at first.
3 tbs FIRE – the inability to think of anything else, but the flame that ignites within oneself.
1/2 stick TIMING – the right moment, created naturally, to make the recipe tasty.
2 tsp BREATH – the inability to breathe normally once the kiss is released.
2 tsp IRREVOCABLE CHANGE – the realization that a line has just been crossed and cannot be redrawn.
** MIX ALL ABOVE INGREDIENTS UNTIL PERFECTLY BLENDED. WHEN FINISHED, REMOVE ALL SCRAPS OF SELF-CONTROL AND BAKE ON HIGH **
Do you agree?
Can a book be ruined by a poorly conveyed, first kiss?
Disclaimer: While they did an outrageously awesome job at portraying characters bound to one another (Eila and Raef / Kian and Ana), the kids above were not BF / GF.