Last week, I wrote 'the kiss scene' of my book while riding a crowded train. While seated beside my mother.
Some things are just awkward.
If I had just had to write something along the lines of 'they kissed,' all would have been great. They kissed, they went on with their life. But a kiss is the pinnacle of the romance arc (at least in my books), and it deserves a lot more than just a side-note that they kissed.
I started thinking of this lovely post on kissing by Katie Mills, the Creepy Query Girl. And I realized that a couple of sentences weren't going to cut it. This kiss had a place in the plot. It had to be written that way. What was the kiss like? In my last book, it was more gentle, a more innocent first kiss - a goodbye kiss.
This one called for something more passionate. And thus I was left to write words about his fingers tangling in her hair, his mouth hard against hers, the way his hand clenched the back of her shirt.
Which is waaaaaaayyyy different than last time. Last time, his hands 'rounded her waist.' I used words like gentle and tender and loving.
This time it was fierce and protective and furious and even dangerous.
But it really got me thinking. I have an obsession that controversial things (sex, bad language, crime, you know, stuff like that) must add to the plot. I can't stand books where stuff is just thrown in for the sake of throwing in. One of my favorite examples of a good use of a bad word was in Jennifer Brown's Hate List, where the dad uses the f-word during an intense argument with his daughter. It made sense.
Thus, I couldn't just let this kiss escape without its adding to the plot. And it couldn't add to the plot unless something in it differed from 'they kissed.' Both of my books have a kiss. Both could just say, "They kissed." But it's one thing to add to the plot by adding a kiss...it's even a greater feat to make the kiss's description add to the plot.
Of course, this could apply to anything. It's one thing to poison someone with orange juice in your novel. It's an entirely different thing to talk about the 'condensation, like dewdrops, dripping off the glass,' or the way the juice 'splashed to the table as her hand trembled.' Don't just add things to the plot. Add things to the things that add to the plot.
Do you write kisses? How much energy do you devote to each one? (There's no wrong answer here. Sometimes the kiss isn't a pivotal plot point. Sometimes its simplicity is its description.)