Tuesday, March 31, 2009

My Favourite Part of the Book - The First Kiss

So I'm a little over half-way in writing the first draft of the new WIP (since I've only put in about 10,000 words onto computer screen and the rest is in long-hand I'm guestimating I'm at the half-way point here) and I just finished writing the first kiss scene between my heroine and hero. And I am pleased. Thank God. Because if I wasn't pleased I'd be stuck. Until I got it right. Until I believed that what just happened felt natural and not awkwardly set up just because there's a romantic sub-plot and I have to throw in a kiss at some point. I need to believe that at that particular moment, for those particular two people, a kiss happened because it was emotionally honest and right for them at that time.

As you can see I'm very persnickity when it comes to getting that first kiss scene right.

Now, I know not all YA books have to have a kissing scene in them - many don't. Whatever works for a writer's story. But in MY books they are a must. I love me a romantic sub-plot. For me, a first kiss between the main character and the love interest is nothing that can be skimmed over, nor jumped in too quickly, nor delayed for too long. It must happen at the right time, with the right level of intimacy, and with the right reactions before and after the kiss from my main characters. No matter what the main plot is, no matter what sturm and angst might be happening to my main character there must be a love interest and there MUST be a first kiss scene and it must further - if not the plot - then the emotional growth of my main character.

So, I've established that I like first kiss scenes. The question is why? When there are so many scenes in a book that are necessary and integral to the plot and the emotional development of a character why is that first kiss so important to get right?

For me, I think that it boils down to how vulnerable and exposed we are when we kiss someone for the first time. And, as teenagers, first experiences are so intense that in young adult books a first kiss is amplified in terms of emotional depth and importance even further. Layer on that any confusion about how the main character might feel about the person they're kissing or anticipation or fear - whatever the emotion is it is usually intense and, as a result, makes for intense reading. And intense is always good - at least for me.

So, if I have any words of advice (not that I have any right to give advice but it's my blog so I'm giving it out for free) if you have a first kiss scene planned, please give it the same thought, time and importance you'd give to a scene where there is high drama or conflict, or an action scene, or a stunning revelation. A good first kiss scene - if written well - can give a reader all of that and more. But, more importantly, a good first kiss scene should leave a reader with that squirming, butterflies-in-the-stomach, about-to-jump-off-a-cliff feeling that you had when you kissed someone for the first time and didn't know what was going to happen next.

It should leave you wanting more.

So, tell me, what's your favourite part of the book?

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