I find writing kissing scenes for YA books tricky. I mean, I love romance and apparently a lot of my teen readers like it too, but some of my readers are quite young and I always want my books to be—well, clean. It’s a fine line to walk. How much romantic language is appropriate?
Then there is the other problem. How many different ways can you descriptively write, “He leaned down and kissed her. And they kissed for awhile. Then they stopped.” See, it has to be dressed up somehow, made more literary, and made more immediate.
Not long ago I explained this problem to my husband. I asked him to kiss me like it was our first date so I could think of descriptive phrasing.
He isn’t very cooperative about these sorts of requests. He gave me a humorless stare and said, “What, you want me to take you in my sinewy arms and pull you into my vice-like grip?”
I made him read a romance back in the 80s–you know, just so he would know what women expected from a man–and he’s never let me live this down. In my defense it had been several years since I had read the aforementioned romance and I’d forgotten what it was like.
He walked over to me. “This is where I kiss you’re welcoming mouth, right?”
I smacked him and reminded him that I write young adult fiction and there is none of the cheesy romance lingo in them.
He said, “You mean I’m not supposed to plunder your mouth?”
“How does anyone even do that?” I asked him. “Are you supposed to steal my fillings or something? Just kiss me like you don’t know me that well.”
He kissed me and I tried to arrange the description. “His unshaved beard stubble scraped across my skin . . .” Well, that just wasn’t going to work.
He let go of me and rolled his eyes. ”Can’t you just write about that first night I kissed you–remember Lake Braddock?” We’d gone there late one summer night after a dance and sat in the moonlight looking at the lake. “Don’t you remember that?” he asked.
“All I really remember is that the ducks were sleeping.”
“That’s what you remember about that night?”
“Well, I’d never seen ducks sleep before. They look like they don’t have heads.”
“The summer night, the moonlight . . .” he supplied.
” . . .there among the headless ducks . . .”
Yeah, I never could get that memory to work for my novel. It’s a good thing I have a descriptive imagination.