How to Write The Perfect Kissing Scene
The perfect kissing scene is somewhere in the middle of steamy and sophisticated.
Too little and it won’t get us turned on.
Too much and it’ll quickly turn us off.
Kissing is an uncontrollable desire. And the reader must desire the kiss as much as the characters do.
To do that, you must understand the character’s motivations and feelings.
And that’s because kissing needs context.
History. Build up. Tension. Emotions.
And that’s exactly what I’m going to show you how to do.
Why Writing a Kissing Scene Is So Hard
One of the most difficult scenes to write is a kissing scene.
For starters, first kisses are often very private.
You won’t have many experiences to draw from other than your own. And if you have limited sexual experience, you might now have any at all.
Second, there’s lot of ways to mess up a kissing scene.
If the setting isn’t right or you don’t have the proper build up it can fall flat. And for an important moment in the story like a first kiss, that’s a disaster.
Lastly, it’s real easy to ruin the kissing scene with clichés.
When trying to capture the essence of a wonderful kiss, it’s easy to fall into traps like calling it a “magical moment.”
A kiss is an act of love. And love is often clichéd because people write what they think love should look like. Not what it actually looks like.
But have no fear my dear. In this article I’m going to provide you with a foolproof formula for writing great kissing scenes.
Plus, I’ll include many kissing scene examples from literature and film for you to follow.
Also, I’ll include my Kissing Scene Template Worksheet. This way you’ll never get stuck trying to write a kissing scene ever again.
The Kissing Scene Formula
The perfect kissing scene is like any other scene you will write.
It should have a beginning, rising action, and a climax (the kiss).
To do that we’re going to break the kiss scene up into five steps:
1) Set Up The Kiss
2) Get The Characters Close
3) Show Their Admiration For Each Other
4) Make Them Kiss
5) Show the Outcome
By following these five easy steps, you’ll write the perfect kissing scene every time.
Step #1: How to Set Up a Kissing Scene
One of the most important parts to writing a kissing scene is the set up.
Kissing scenes are only interesting when we know the context and emotional history between the two characters.
There should be tension, flirting and even a little bit of foreplay before the big moment. This should happen earlier in the story too.
Then once you’ve arrived at the kissing scene, it’s time to decide how to set up the situation that leads to the first kiss.
Will the kiss scene be romantic? Chaotic? Or somewhere between?
Your answer will have an impact on how the kiss scene is set up. So choose wisely.
The kiss can be set up in one of three ways:
1) Tender Moments
2) Fighting First
3) High Stakes Action
Below is an example of each one with some analysis.
Kissing Scene Example #1: Tender Moments
The first kind of kiss scene is when two characters are having a tender emotional moment that leads to a kiss.
Often they’ll be alone somewhere talking, sharing secrets, discussing dreams and fears. This emotional closeness and vulnerability leads them to the big smooch.
This is the type of stereotypical set up you think of when imagining a kiss scene. After all, this is how it actually happens most of the time in real life.
The perfect example of this is from the book and film Dear John (2006 and 2010).
John and Savannah get caught alone in the rain at a construction site. They stop and hide under what little shelter they can find.
Savannah asks some personal questions about John’s history. In sharing this information, it leads to confessions about how they feel about each other.
She smiles, he leans in close, and boom… the two start kissing. Textbook.
Kissing Scene Example #2: Fighting First
One of the oldest tricks in the book is to start a scene at one emotion and end at its opposite.
Happy to sad. Scared to excited. And in the case of a kissing scene, anger to passion.
Lovers can often start off as opponents of sorts. The “battle” between them amps up the flirtation and anticipation.
There are a million examples of this, but one of my favorites is from the movie Army of Darkness.
The main character, Ash, is rude and disrespectful right from the start. Sheila is intent on having a serious conversation with him, but he’s way too distracted to care.
He insults her several times, and even throws some things around the room. When she gives him a gift she made, he replies “Thanks. I could use a good horse blanket.”
Sheila can’t take his attitude anymore, and smacks him hard right in the face. SLAP!!!
Ash gets up and chases after. He grabs her by the arm, pulls her close and spouts his famous line… “Give me some sugar baby.”
Their anger has boiled over into passion, and leads to a hot first kiss. Once opponents, they’re now lovers. The relationship is forever changed.
Kissing Scene Example #3: High Stakes Action
Research shows that when you meet someone during a scary situation, it increases your attraction to them.
A study once proved that if you met someone on a suspension bridge, you are more likely to be attracted to them. Much more than if you met the same person on a safer, less scary bridge.
So it’s no wonder that we often see two characters fall in love right in the middle of dangerous, intense action.
A good recent example of this is from Jurassic World (2015).
Claire and Owen are fighting for their lives while trying to escape the theme park and save her two nephews.
An escaped dinosaur pins Owen to the ground and starts biting at him, threatening his life. What ever will he do?!
But have no worry, Claire comes to the rescue. She knocks the dinosaur off of him and shoots it to death, saving Owen’s life.
She helps him up off the ground, and he can’t help himself. He’s lays and unsuspecting kiss on her right in the heat of the battle.
Even if your story doesn’t have intense action like this, other emotional highs can work too.
A perfect example is an automobile accident. It can happen in almost any story. It’s an emotional high with a little bit of danger.
While it’s better to come up with something unique, you can always fall back on a car crash as a crutch. It works in a pinch.
How to Build Tension and Anticipation for the Kissing Scene
One trick to build tension and anticipation for the kissing scene is to have an “almost kiss” earlier in the story.
This lets the audience know the attraction is there, but they’re going to have to wait to get the emotional payoff.
In fact, this is so common it’s almost cliché. Watch these lists of Top 10 “Almost Kiss” Scenes to see examples of how it has been done already.
All those scenes make it crystal clear the two characters will be locking lips later in the story. So in a sense, it doesn’t build too much tension at all. We already know what’s going to happen.
But here’s the secret to using an almost kiss scene. You should make the future outcome a lot vaguer.
It shouldn’t be obvious that the characters are going to hook up. Keep the reader guessing. That will build the tension.
The perfect example of this is Gone with The Wind (1939).
Watch some of the other scenes above, and then watch this one. Vastly different tone, right? We don’t know what will happen between them. Will they finally kiss? Or go their separate ways?
This is how you should write your “almost kiss” scene too. Make it a cliffhanger. Don’t be so obvious about the outcome. Make the reader wonder what will happen next.
Step #2: How to Bring Characters Close for a Kiss
You’ve created a situation that brings the characters together, but you need to bring them close enough to kiss. Literally.
Characters can’t lock lips without being real close to each other first.
In this step you’ll need to decide exactly how that happens.
We’ll use the scenes from above as examples.
Kissing Scene Example #1: Outside Circumstances
Watch the kiss scene from Dear John again. Pay attention to the following.
John and Savannah are checking out a home her family is building when it starts to rain.
To get shelter from the rain, they have to huddle close together since the roof isn’t finished yet. Otherwise they’ll get soaked.
It’s the perfect excuse to get close. They wouldn’t have done so otherwise. Now they’re close enough to kiss, and it happens.
Your characters would eventually get close on their own anyway. But sometimes outside forces will bring them close enough to make it happen earlier in the story.
It can be the weather, other characters, events in the story… you name it. Anything outside of the two characters can work.
When the characters move slow and steady to get closer, it usually indicates a soft passionate kiss is coming. Like the one we see in this scene.
For the opposite, see the example below.
Kissing Scene Example #2: Character Choice
Watch the scene from Army of Darkness again. Pay attention to the following:
In this scene, the characters get close when Ash gets up and chases Sheila to the door. He grabs her by the arm, spins her around, and plants a big kiss on her.
When the closing is fast and sudden like this, it usually leads to hard and assertive kiss that we see here. It’s the result of lots of built up sexual tension.
This type of character choice is where one of the characters takes what they want — the kiss. And usually it’s the man.
But it can also be the woman. If she’s more experienced than the male character, or can’t resist kissing him anymore, she’ll make the first move.
Although, most of the time one of the two characters invites the other one to kiss them. They give them a big green light that says “Kiss me, you fool!”
Now watch the scene from Gone With The Wind again. Pay attention to the following:
Scarlett says she wouldn’t kiss Rhett for the bonnet. But then gets really close to him. Like real close. Close enough he could kiss her if he wanted to.
This is a big green light for Rhett. Typically women don’t like to make the first move. So they’ll help the guy along a little by signaling that if he does try to kiss her, it will be well-received.
So either one character can make the first move, or the other can invite that character to make it. Your choice.
Step #3: Show Characters Admiring Each Other
Once the characters are close enough to kiss, their focus is on the other character. The rest of the outside world fades away and their focus is locked on the object of their heart’s desire.
With such intense focus, the characters start to notice things about each other. Things that they find sexy, attractive or intriguing.
In the scene from Dear John, Savannah asks him about the scar on his eyebrow at the start of the conversation. This starts an intimate conversation that leads to their first kiss.
But you can show the characters admiring each other without words too. In the scene from Army of Darkness, Ash doesn’t say a word after grabbing Sheila before telling her to kiss him.
All they do is gaze into each other. You can feel the attraction. Particularly when Ash takes her hair down. He’s admiring her beauty.
In these close moments, male characters will usually admire something physical. Her lips, eyes, face, hair or figure. Her physical beauty is what turns him on.
Female characters will usually admire the strength or confidence of the male lead.
Ash is quite bold when he takes her by the arm, and Sheila is head over heels for his masculine energy. She can’t resist a take-charge kind of guy. He’s bold, sure of himself, and ready to take the lead.
What your characters admire about each other will depend on their personalities. Bonus points if you can link it to something that reveals their past or shows their character. The Dear John scene is the perfect example.
Step #4: The Kiss
Your characters have come together, gotten close, and admired each other. Now it’s time for the big moment…
Pucker up buttercup, it’s time for a kiss.
The key to writing a good kissing scene is to focus on describing everything else but the actual kiss.
Focus on the five senses and the character’s thoughts and emotions. Not on the actual physicality and motions of the lips and tongue.
Otherwise it’s too easy to get grossed out. It takes all the romance out of it. Look at this excerpt below from Sophie’s Choice for an example of what not to do:
Writhing tongues, gaping maws, and mucilaginous (sticky) uvulas? No thank you! I’m going to have to ask you to leave now young lady.
Now compare that scene with these two below. One is from Gone With the Wind and the other from Anna and the French Kiss.
Notice how much more description there is about everything else going on. There is very little focus on the actual kiss.
Things other than the kiss that were described:
- His arms were around her
- She felt again the rush of helplessness
- Drowned to nothingness
- He bent back her head across his arm
- Intensity that made her cling to him
- Wild tremors along her nerves
- Sensations she had never known she was capable of feeling
- Swimming giddiness spun her round
Things other than the kiss that were described:
- It’s nothing like I’ve ever experienced
- Every square inch of my body dissolves into his
- My fingers grip his hair, pulling him closer
- My veins throb and my heart explodes
- I have never wanted anyone like this before. Ever.
- He pushes me backward and we’re lying down.
- The weight of his body on top of mine is extraordinary
- I feel him — all of him — pressed against me
- The most delicious smell I could ever imagine
- His face has the slightest bit of stubble
- His hands are everywhere
- I want him closer closer closer
You can read the list of bullet points and feel what she’s feeling without even describing the actual kiss!
Your kiss scene should be able to do that too. Here’s how below.
How To Describe a Kissing Scene Using the Five Senses
Sight — This one is easy. Simply write what is seen. Usually from one character’s point of view. It’s mostly going to be a description of the other character’s face. But they may also notice their surroundings as well.
Sound — There might be music playing, the sound of the rain hitting the ground, or the other character’s heartbeat. Avoid lip smacks and slurping tongues. Yuck!
Smell — This is usually the other character’s cologne, perfume or natural scent. But it could also be something in the atmosphere. Scented candles or food in the oven is the perfect example.
Touch — This one is very important. Describe how the other characters skin and body feels. Be sure to include what they do with their body as well. Where do they hands roam? Do they caress softly, or grab and grope? What about the rest of their body? Their hips? Their legs? Avoid being explicit unless your genre or target audience calls for it.
Taste — Most often the taste is compared to something sweet, like fruit or honey. But you might also taste the saltiness of their sweat. Be careful not to tread into the yucky zone here though. Be sure to use pleasant imagery.
How To Describe Body Language in a Kissing Scene
These are the most important things to focus on with description in a kissing scene.
Eyes — Are they open or closed? Open eyes can be make for an awkward or tender kiss. Closed eyes create a passionate or pleasurable experience. If the characters look into each other’s eyes, how does it make them feel?
Lips — Being a kissing scene, describing the lips is important. Are they hard or soft? Chapped or smooth? Is your character a good kisser? Or could they use a little practice? What do they taste like? Is it a soft peck? Or a soul-gripping lip lock? Don’t go into too much detail describing the tongue though, just focus on the lips.
Breath — Is their breathing slow and steady? Does it momentarily stop? Or is it rapid and fast paced like the beat of their heart? How does it feel on their skin? On their neck? In their ear? Describing this will help you capture the moment.
Bodies — How are the characters physically responding to the kiss? Is he pulling her close? Is she opening up to him? Do they start to bump and grind a little bit? Or does she push him away? Or maybe he stop the kiss before it goes too far? Body language will help you show how the characters feel about the kiss they’re sharing.
Hands and Arms — This is a big one. Is he running his fingers through her hair? Holding the side of her face? Or roaming down her side towards her rear? Is she gripping him close, pulling him into her? Holding onto his muscular arms as he lifts her up? Or gently caressing his skin during a passionate moment? This is key to describing a good kissing scene.
Examples of How to Write a Unique Kissing Scene
Every once in a while we get to experience a unique and original kissing scene that’s totally unforgettable.
The way to write a kissing scene like this is to get creative with the actual moment of the kiss.
Here are some examples of how to make your kissing scene extraordinary.
Choose a Fantastic Setting For Your Kissing Scene
As seen here in Titanic, a kiss at the bow of such a magnificent ship creates a wonderful setting for a kiss.
But what really sets this kissing scene apart is the flying metaphor. It’s the moment pretends to fly right before the kiss.
A kiss is an expression of love. And love can make you feel like you’re on cloud nine. So high that you’re flying.
Make the Kiss Scene Happen By Accident
In almost every kiss scene, one of the characters makes the first move and kisses the other one on purpose.
But what if they kissed by accident instead?
This is hard to pull off. But when you do it right you’ll get a kissing scene that is completely unforgettable.
The spaghetti and meatball scene from Disney’s Lady and the Tramp is the perfect example of this. It’s one of the most iconic kisses in film history.
Change How the Two Characters Kiss Each Other
One way to make your kiss scene unique is to make it different from your ordinary kiss. It can’t help but stand out if you do.
In a kiss scene unlike any other, Spiderman and Mary Jane share a tender kiss while he is hanging upside down.
This is an extremely unique scenario you can’t apply to every story. But it works so well because it’s characteristic of Spiderman.
If Superman would’ve kissed like this, it wouldn’t have the same effect. He’s now known for hanging upside like Spiderman is.
But if Superman were to fly her through the air and up into the clouds like he did below, that would be more like it.
Get creative with your next kissing scene. See if you can experiment with the setting or the actual kiss to make it unique.
Step #5: What Happens After The Kiss
Sparks fly, rockets explode, and now the magical moment is over.
Or is it?
The big question is “What happens now?”
First, you have to get these characters back into the story.
More importantly, how has their relationship has changed because of the kiss?
After the kiss you have two options for moving forward:
1) Lead to Sex
2) Back to the Action
See examples of each below.
How to Write a Kissing Scene that Leads to Sex
Your characters have locked lips and supercharged their libidos. They’re looking to round the bases for a big score… but how do you get them there?
If your characters are in a crowded area, the first thing you’ll need to do is move them to an area where they can be alone.
They don’t need to be totally removed from the scene though. For example, a dressing room in a crowded mall would work fine.
Next, they’ve got to undress each other. You must decide who does the undressing for each character. And what pieces of clothing they take off and leave on.
During all this, the physicality continues to escalate. The action gets hotter and heavier. They’re rounding the bases and approaching home plate. How will you get them there?
Then, you’ve got to find the exact spot they consummate the act. You have to decide how much detail you want to get into with it. Will you go over every little detail? Or simply hint at what’s going on?
Finally, once the act is over, then it’s time to show some interaction. What will the pillow talk be like? Show their relaxed, intimate conversation that often occurs after sexual activity.
For a great example on how to write a kissing scene that leads to sex, watch this excerpt from the Notebook. It goes from start to finish. Set up to pillow talk.
Pay particular attention to the parts after the kiss on the boat dock. Notice how the clothes get taken off and the characters make their way to the bedroom upstairs.
Then sex begins. They change positions a few times, and the scene ends with some pillow talk before starting up again.
How to Get Back to the Story After a Kissing Scene
If your characters decide not to “take things all the way,” then you’ve got to find a way to get back to the action.
Often the easiest way to get back to the story after a kissing scene is to have something interrupt them.
It could be another character, events from the story, or the buzzer bell that class is about to start. The options are limitless.
Watch this video for ten “almost kiss” scenes to see different ways these characters were interrupted. Then come up with something unique and original for your story.
How Does Your Character's Relationship Change After the Kissing Scene?
The last thing you have to determine is how the character’s relationship has changed after the big kiss.
Are they more attracted to one another? Does one of them regret it? Is one of them scared of the intimacy? All kinds of options exist.
The best way to do this is to look at the character’s relationship at the end of the story and work your way backwards.
If the characters fall in love and live happily ever after, you’re going to have to bring them closer together. But don’t forget to put some obstacles in the way as you go. Make it a roller coaster.
If the characters end their relationship with a heart-wrenching break up, it’ll be a different story. You should bring them closer together first, and then tragically rip them apart near the end.
If the relationship at the end of the story is “to be continued,” then you should leave questions about the relationship unanswered. Draw their story out over several books, and you’ve nailed it.
Kissing Scene Examples
Here are a few videos you can watch to see some of the best kissing scenes of all time.
If you find one that particularly interests you, watch the whole movie and study how the kiss scene was set up. Notice what happens with the character’s relationship afterward too.
To see examples from your favorite books, open up your kindle or other e-reader and search for the word “kiss”. It’ll allow you to scan every single time the word was used in the story.
But don’t just read the sentence where kiss appeared. Be sure to read a few paragraphs before and after to see how the kiss was set up and what it lead to.
Reading kiss scenes and watching them in movies is one thing, but to see how people kiss in real life is better.
Awhile back, there was this viral video about 20 strangers kissing for the first time on film. It got over a hundred million views and has been replicated many times since.
Watch these people kiss for the first time and pay attention to the details. Their body language, and the awkward silences before it starts. Who makes the first move? And how does it escalate?
By the time you’re done with these examples, you should be a pro at writing the perfect kissing scene for your own story.
Kissing Scene Writing Prompts
Here are a few writing prompts to help you get started describing you own kissing scene. These are great if you need some practice writing something that doesn’t matter. That will help take the pressure off and allow you to exercise your creative imagination.
Answer these prompts in the comments section and I’ll give you some feedback on how to make the scene better!
Kissing Scene Writing Prompt #1
Pick two characters from your favorite movie who didn’t kiss or have a relationship. Imagine how a kissing scene between the two of them would go. For an extra challenge, pick two characters who you would never imagine ever working out in real life!
Kissing Scene Writing Prompt #2
Pick two comic book heroes from your favorite marvel movies, and write a kissing scene for them. How would their attitudes play off of each other? How could their super powers affect the kissing scene? Or make for a unique setting? Get creative and see if you can use their powers to make the scene unique and interesting.
Kissing Scene Writing Prompt #3
Pick two of your friends from real life who aren’t in a relationship and write a kissing scene for them. Imagine yourself playing Cupid or matchmaker and bringing these two together.
How would the two get to know each other? What would their first date be like? Which one would make the first move? If the scene goes well enough, maybe you could show it to one of them and try to hook them up!
Kissing Scene Template Worksheet
Still stuck? No worries. This Kissing Scene Template Worksheet will take you step by step through the process. Enter your best email address below and I’ll send it to you for free 🙂