Friday, March 25, 2016

THAT KISS, THAT KISS by Andrea Downing

Let's welcome Andrea Downing to The Roses of Prose today.

Recently, while having my daughter do a last proofread of a manuscript of mine, looking for typos and missing words, she pointed out that the scene describing a second kiss used identical words to the scene of the first kiss. Well spotted! But, uh-oh—another re-write.  While we, as authors, tell different stories and have different settings, and therefore different leads to the kiss, once we get there it’s very difficult to make each kiss different; describing a basic human action that occurs a gazillion times a day around the world takes an awful lot of imagination!
One of my favorite country/western songs is Faith Hill’s ‘This Kiss,’ so it seemed like a good place to start looking for inspiration. “You got me like a rocket shooting straight across the sky” could, I guess, be adjusted for a heroine, though it wasn’t quite the inner emotion I was looking for.  We hadn’t reached “perpetual bliss” in the storyline as yet, and as the second kiss, it wasn’t the “pivotal moment.” “Centrifugal motion”?  Was the heroine spinning?  Maybe…then again, maybe not.  “Subliminal”? Hmm.  Scientifically, yes.
The scientific word for kissing is osculation. Your lips, apparently, tell your brain a huge amount of information (without words!) and, subsequently, oxytocin and dopamine may be released.  If the kiss is a good ’un, and you feel safe and secure in it (very important), you’re likely to continue the relationship.  If the kiss is bad, well, adios pal…. It follows, then, that long-lasting relationships include a lot of kissing! But back to writing the kiss, did I really want to describe the release of oxytocin?  I think not.
I headed off to that universal source of all research, Google, hoping I might find some words I could employ in my description. ‘How to describe a kiss’ brought up a Wiki How-to. Amazing.  Wiki claims there are three parts to describing the kiss:  setting the scene, creating a build-up, and describing the kiss. When I saw the first part started with, “Choose who is going to be kissing whom,” my heart sank. That was long decided, and it was obvious that the scene was already set. Okay, so I moved on to ‘Creating a Build-up.’ This included the advice of having one character notice something new or interesting about the other. Really?…On, then, to describing the kiss. Wiki advises using all five senses and including placement of lips, tongue, heads, eyes, noses, hands and arms, and also describing how the kiss ends.  This all seems a bit technical to me, rather like being given instructions on how to build a toy airplane—placement of wing, nose, body, tail, and undercarriage.
I’ve decided I’m neither too old nor have been single for so long that I cannot describe a kiss. 
So here is where my research never led me, that second kiss in Bad Boy, Big Heart from the Come Love a Cowboy anthology of contemporary western romance: 
His face hovered so close to hers, she could see the tiny specks in the green of his eyes, like leaves floating on a pond. She leaned slightly into him and let her lips be captured, let his hands hold her face gently so the kiss went deeper, and his tongue found the cavern of her mouth, his lips arresting her own. K.C. felt as if that kiss went down to her toes, moved through her body like some warming drink, quenching the thirst she had for him. Her toes curled with the delight of it, and her heart ached as he pulled away.

And if you wish to read the first and third kisses, please head on to


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Grant Me The Moon by Caroline Clemmons
All Tory Fraser intended was to show her high school history club students a local archeology dig. How could she know the excursion would involve a murder?

Three for The Win by Keta Diablo
Hollis should have known better than to fall for a bone-melting man like Stede. He’s gone now and Eli is left to pick up the broken pieces of her life.

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When his partners’ daughter is kidnapped in México, a self-made millionaire must confront his feelings about their affair and the future of their relationship.

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Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for having me here along with my pals. Much appreciated!

Leah St. James said...

Welcome, Andrea! How funny about the Wiki "instructions." You cracked me up. I think you nailed it though. You got the emotion and the sensation just perfectly. Maybe you should suggest an edit to that Wiki article!

Margo Hoornstra said...

Thanks for the entertaining read. Welcome!

Jannine Gallant said...

Even worse than describing a kiss...describing them doing the deed. I mean, how many ways can you describe part A going into part B without actually saying part A goes here! LOL Oh, the challenges of a romance writer. You did a beautiful job with your kiss, Andrea!

Unknown said...

lovely post!!

Anonymous said...

Leah_-I did think the Wiki instructions somewhat strange--I mean, who the hell is actually using them?! Margo, I'm glad you found it entertaining, as it was meant to be. ;-) Jannine, thanks for your kind words on my 'kiss'--or maybe I should say, osculation. And thanks fellow CLAC author, Kathleen

Rolynn Anderson said...

"A kiss is just a kiss; a sigh is but..." To writers there is no 'just'...hell, we aren't eve supposed to USE the word 'just.' Read a HEAVY sigh here. This may be why my fingers fly across the keyboard when I'm setting up the elements of mystery and suspense...and cramp up during the sexual encounters. We get the 'feel' when we get it right, however...and when the reader gets it, too...YES! Good job on researching the kiss...and finding a way to make it fresh!

Vicki Batman, sassy writer said...

hehehe, this is so much fun about kissing. I once had a date tell me I was a terrible kisser. That made it into a story. Too bad I was so naive and didn't say teach me. LOL

Barbara Bettis said...

Fun post. And your second description was nicely done! Next time I have to write a kiss scene I'll probably start chuckling about releasing oxytocin--kinda takes the romance out of it, right? LOL

Anonymous said...

Rolynn, I'm glad you found my description 'fresh.' It really must be an area all romance authors worry about. Vicki, what a sad thing to have been told--I'll have to read your story that contains the scene now. And Barb, maybe after this there'll be a lot of medical romances mentioning the release of oxytocin?

Hebby Roman said...

Very interesting discussion and post and definitely important for romance authors. Love the word, "osculation," so erudite!

Keta Diablo said...

Hi Andi and Roses of Prose, Love the blog!

Thanks so much for hosting Andrea and Come Love A Cowboy. Too funny about kissing. Yes, I guess there must be really good kissers and bad kissers as we've heard about this through the ages. I wrote a short article once about chemical and biological elements involved in kissing. Wow! who knew?

Again, our sincere thanks for your efforts in supporting Come Love A Cowboy,

~ Keta Diablo ~

Alison Henderson said...

Hi, Andi. Thanks for joining us. I love the Wiki How-to instructions. I haven't thought about the ways to describe a kiss for a while, but I'd better get busy. The first kiss in my WIP is coming up soon!

Anonymous said...

Hebby, ah, erudite--that's me, LOL Keta, I'll have to track down your article. Maybe one day I'll have a science geek as hero who thinks of all those reactions. Good luck Alison with describing that kiss!

Caroline Clemmons said...

Great kiss description, Andi. Made me sigh. I'd say that makes it a perfect description of a good kiss.

Anonymous said...

Thanks Caroline! A sighable kiss is definitely a good thing.

Diane Burton said...

Welcome, Andrea. Great post. The best though was your comment about the scientist hero describing all the reactions. I'm thinking Walter O'Brien in Scorpion (if/when he ever kisses Paige. He is such a geek.

Anonymous said...

Diane, unfortunately I don't watch Scorpion --maybe I should! Hero could, of course, also be a medical man: "Ah, i can feel the oxytocin entering my blood now!"

Jana Richards said...

I'm glad I'm not the only one who struggles to make each kiss feel new and fresh for readers. Fun post, Andrea!

Anonymous said...

Oh, Jana, of course not! I'm sure all authors have this problem.

Ashantay said...

Oh, boy - really liked the way you wrote the second kiss! Lovely!

Anonymous said...

Thanks Ashantay--always good to get feedback. Sort of like a 'kiss review.'

Ilona Fridl said...

The kiss and how to do it in a story so it would be different all the time is difficult. I think about encounters and situations to try to make it different every time.

Alicia Dean said...

Excellent job on describing the kiss! You nailed it. :) I love your 'kiss' research, LOL. Sounds like an awesome group of books. Welcome to Roses of Prose and PLEASE forgive me for being late to comment!

Unknown said...

This is my go-to book when I get stuck on kisses. ;)