Saturday, May 17, 2008

Let Us Write of the Smooch

Love scenes are trickier to write than you might think! Sure, it seems like it should be a snap to write a passionate interlude. After all, you just spent all afternoon fantasizing about sex while you were supposed to be typing your boss’s dictation . . . or, um, some women might do that, anyway . . .the point is that some mysterious woman might have been fantasizing about sex when she was supposed to be working, and Dirk, if you’re reading this, keep in mind that those letters don’t actually have to be posted until Tuesday. Anyway, writing down these pervasive sexy thoughts should be easy for me. Her, I mean. But it takes a little finesse, which is why I have developed a how-to guide: “Writing the Serious Romantic Love Scene.”

Part One. The Smooch

Read the following sentence.

Kiss A: “They French-kissed with enthusiasm, because they liked each other and it was enjoyable to do so.”
Technically this sentence is correct, yet it does not assure us of the dead serious nature of romantic-novel kissing. Romantic-novel kissing requires many more metaphors than this, and repeated confirmation that the smooch is life-altering, and possibly contractually binding.
Now observe the difference when applying carefully selected substitutions:

Kiss B: “Their mouths melded in a whirlwind of hunger, mutual desire burning between them and igniting their passions.”
This is better romantic-novel kissing, though it states basically the same premise. Kiss B employs these important traits for the romance novel smooch:
  1. Meteorology. Sex and related foreplay activities must be tumultuous and disorienting, like having your roof blown off, only not as hard on your insurance rates. The participants are ideally caught in a maelstrom, in a tempest, or in the aforementioned whirlwind of passion.
  2. Hunger. Our couple needs to be starving for each other, ravenous, insatiable. Refrain from using actual foods to describe their desire, except in the case of fruits, or honey, and the female body. She may have lips like cherries, breasts like peaches, and a mouth like a honeyed cavern. She should not, however, “look as delectable as a rack of ribs” and he should not resemble food in any way because that’s not romance, that’s comedy. ("She wanted to eat him like a foot-long hoagie." No, no! That is a different story, altogether!)
  3. Heat. The temperature of their exchange must be repeatedly confirmed as being a heated, burning, fiery, raging, roaring, sparking, crackling, flaming, scorching, scalding inferno. Imagine that the lovers both have caught malaria and are in the terminal throes of fever.


Repeated confirmation: An important step! Declaring only once that an action has taken place might be insufficient to convince a reader that this is a serious smooch. Employ the thesaurus yet again to reiterate the importance of the smooch.
Kiss B(1): “Their mouths melded in a whirlwind of hunger, their mutual desire burning between them and igniting their passions. Their lips bonded, parting in a maelstrom of need and their tongues dueled in delighted fervor, her mouth a honeyed cavern for his ravenous exploration
[1].”

Kiss B(1) states at least three times that the couple is kissing, and employs various metaphors, a meteorological event, hunger, heat, and one allusion to the works of Charles Dickens. Thus the reader is convinced it is a romantic-novel kiss. Follow up sentences should support the seriousness by confirming:
  1. The difficulty of breathing (due to excitement, though, and not something like anaphylactic shock).
  2. The response of various other body parts (beating hearts, trembling hands, whirling head, weakened knees). Avoid describing disgusting body parts (intestines) and unflattering reactions (gas, nausea, palsy).
  3. The promise of delights to come. Use the word promise. “Their passionate kiss was a promise of the delights to come.”

Finally, when using the thesaurus to embellish the serious romantic-novel kiss, be wary of straying too far from the original idea. Read the following sentence and see if you can spot the error.

Kiss C. “Their maws bonded in a cyclone of crazed zeal, their hankering stinging between them and putting a match to their campaigning.”

Answer: One should not refer to mouths as maws, as this sounds unflattering.


The next installment of “Writing the Serious Romantic Love Scene” will deal with the importance of talking about hooters.

[2]

Footnotes:
[1] The honeyed cavern and exploration are a euphemism for at least fourteen different kinds of intimacy, but one is cautioned against employing the term “spelunking” when using it.
[2] One should not refer to breasts as hooters, as this sounds unflattering.

16 comments:

  1. OMG, Christina, I am howling. The wrack of ribs, the honeyed cavern... hilarious. You have the gift for comedy, girl. Seriously funny.
    Marie

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  2. Thanks, Marie! You are too sweet. It is my goal to spread joy and kissing throughout the universe.

    Christina

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  3. I'm keeping this. You should give it as a workshop if you do not already.
    Hilarious and seriously helpful.
    Michele

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  4. Thank you, Michelle! I had never thought of a workshop on writing about kissing. Imagine the physical demonstrations and visual aids!
    Christina

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  5. I never realized how important it is to a romance novel to discribe a kiss. Or how detailed it has to be. I think I discribed my last kiss as a "smackeroo". Totally inappropriate.

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  6. I loved that description Christina you have me cracking up I can see why I am not an author I couldn't of thought of any of that yet I love reading romance books and I love the way authors describe kissing and other things you guys have fantastic imaginations.
    Thanks
    Have Fun
    Helen

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  7. Carla,
    Thank you for your comment. But please don't worry. There is nothing inappropriate about a smackeroo. I also like muchas smoochies, snogging and "planting one."
    Christina

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  8. Helen,
    Thanks for chiming in! I love to read romance novels too, and I always admire an author who can take the same couple, have them kiss again and again, and make it new and interesting every time. I think that's where the really hard work comes in!
    Christina

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  9. ROFLOL, Christina!
    I agree with Michele, prime workshop material here! And I admit I'm guilty of trying to find other words for hot, scorching, blazing...

    But in real life, I'm with Carla. SMACKEROO pretty much describes it. :-)

    Cindy

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  10. Hey, Cindy! Thanks for dropping by, and I agree. Smackeroos have qualities. They are are Oreos of kisses.

    Christina

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  11. Christina,
    I've said this before, and I'll say it again: I can't wait to read your book!
    What a hoot!
    Cheryl

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  12. Hello, Cheryl! Thanks for dropping in to comment--and when you say "hoot," I'm sure you mean as in "hooters," which is, of course, the topic to be discussed in Part Two, which may get a little too racy for our blog . . .
    Christina

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  13. This is a hilarious post! Who knew that there could be so many descriptions or rules for writing about kissing :)

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  14. Danielle,

    I don't think of them as rules so much as guidelines. (Can you name the movie that's from?) I'm just funnin' around.

    Christina
    It's "Pirates of the Carribean" by the way.

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  15. Yesterday was my 19th wedding anniversary. I just wanted everyone to know that I "planted one" on my hubby.

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  16. Lol, Christina! I loved your post. And that first kiss is soooo important!!!

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