What’s in a Kiss

Research is like second nature to a writer. We study which guns an undercover agent is likely to use, the style of 1800’s dress a debutante might have worn, and we even research something as simple as a kiss.

Or seemingly simple—try putting the motion into words and you’ll see, it’s a lot more complicated.

Here’s some tips every character should know before puckering up.


1. It’s all in the approach. A kissable character has an open body with arms uncrossed, hands away, and is leaving themselves wide-open.

2. Oh, those lips. A character’s lips need to look pretty. Swollen red, full bodied, wet.

3. A light, flirtatious touch. Typically, characters don’t go in for the first kiss without some kind of touching. A quick, innocent caress of the shoulder. A body brushing up next to him/her.

4. Eye contact. Think how odd it would be for someone to swoop in and plant one on the hero or heroine without making a connection with them. Authors love having characters gaze longingly at each other. Or if there’s a bit of tension, narrowed eyes followed by a swoop. Something that signals to the kissee that the kisser is about to act.

5. Eye on lips. Taking eye contact one step further, a characters gaze might drop. They might notice something about the object of their desires bottom lip. Swollen. Moist. Some sign that the next step is imminent. A character’s gaze might hesitate, fall, then move back up and make eye contact.

6. Smile. Demure. Inviting. Tantalizing. A hint of a smile is often just as attractive as the broad, I-know-you’re-about-to-kiss-me kind.



1. When lips connect, a character might pucker ever so slightly. Often, they close their eyes. They focus on the upper or lower lip. Most importantly, they pull away to study the effects of their kiss.

2. During the kiss, a character might open their eyes. A deeper connection is made or trying to be made.

3. Another round of upper and lower lip kissing but deeper, where a character draws the lip between their own. An ever so slight pressure is applied, to show they mean business.

4. Switch lips and repeat #3.


1. Characters likely (unless they are in an erotic novel) complete the stages of a romantic kiss first. Then, they move on to “the plundering”.

2. A character’s tongue brushes against their partner, a signal that the kiss is about to go from oh-my to boom-chukka-chukka.

3. After the brief tongue swipe, a character pulls away. What a tease.

4. The romantic kiss resumes, with the tongue swipe, but this time the kissee opens his/her mouth and the kisser slides right in. Gently. Then, they pull their tongue back.

5. A character will close and then open their mouth again. A clear invitation for more.

6. This time, watch out. A character might repeat #4, then deepen the kiss. Hands might touch their partner’s face or other body parts. More physical contact is made. Hearts beat louder, stars alight the sky.

So the next time you read a scene where Jennifer has tossed her hair off her face and is biting her lip, and Robert is raking his eyes across her features, ending his look on her moistened, parted lips, you’ll hopefully realize that a lot of work went into that kiss, even before the characters connected.

Leave a comment


  1. Reblogged this on doingsomereading and commented:
    Some fabulous Kissing thoughts. 🙂

  2. Michele, way to get us all hot and bothered this morning!

  3. Michele, you are so right that a lot of work goes into writing a kiss scene!

  4. Jenna Blue

     /  February 26, 2014

    Michele, this cracked me up! Boom-chukkah-chukkah indeed! ; ) But it’s so true–way harder writing KISSING than one would think!

  5. Hi ki pha, So glad you liked my kiss n tell! Thanks for stopping by! Michele

  6. Hey Joanna, Nothing like a kiss to wake you up, huh? Best, Michele

  7. Jenna, I know. When I was writing this post, weird music kept playing in the recesses of my mind. Specifically Barry White. Best, Michele

  8. Hi Tina, I guess for some writers, it might be easier. My characters seem to do a bit too much moving about before the actual kiss–which I smooth out in revisions. Best, Michele

  9. Jaye Marie Rome

     /  February 28, 2014

    I’m with Joanna, lol!

    I find the upping the stakes for the kiss gets easier when you decide where the H/H are kissing. Are they in public, in a dark corner of a garden, on the dance floor, in the bedroom of one or the other, pushed up against a wall? Where the kiss happens speaks a lot to how hot the attraction is between the two, don’t you think?


  10. Diana Quincy

     /  March 1, 2014

    This is one very sexy post, Miss Mannon! I do admit to having researched kisses before writing them so that they won’t all read the same. I have a single girlfriend who is thoughtful enough to keep me updated whenever she experiences a particularly good kiss. She usually begins with, “This would be good material for one of your books…” I find myself asking specific questions like “What made it good?” “What did he do?”…All in the name of research!

  11. Hi Jaye, Oh I love unique kissing locations! You are right! A little mouth to mouth exchange in from of the Orca tank at Sea World might be a completely different experience than on the dance floor at a trendy club. Best, Michele

  12. Diana, I love how you gather your research–your friend recapping her kisses! Too funny. I find writing kissing scenes (and sex scenes in general) to be challenging. Too many body parts moving, which I work really hard at editing out. But I love a good sexy scene! Cheers, Michele


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