Wednesday, May 12, 2010

The Kiss, The Moment, The Magic

“A man’s kiss is his signature.” Mae West

A kiss is like nothing else. Time stops. We acquiesce, each in our own way, to a shared experience. In a romance novel the first kiss can come at the beginning or the end. It can be sweet or steamy. Confuse or confirm. Insist or implore. If done right it draws a strong reaction from the reader.

A roller coaster of a first kiss involves a lot of attention to detail. A lot of rich detail. As a reader, the experience for me is in the details, in the exaggerated sense of awareness. It’s played out in slow motion and high definition.

I wish I had some magic formula to impart besides staying true to your story, the tone, the mood, the setting, the characters, but I don't. You're on your own. Oh, except for dialogue. Please include some! There is nothing sexier than a well placed spoken word or two.

But I can share my five favourite onscreen kisses:

Oh my, I love this scene! I can't remember how it goes in the actual book but the onscreen scene is just...incredible. The library, the ladder, the formal attire.

There's something about kissing in the rain. And Ryan Gosling.

Come on, you know you want to try it!

Again with the rain. Although this time it had more to do with Hugh Jackman.

And you know I had to fit a vampire in here somewhere.

“A kiss can be a comma, a question mark or an exclamation point. That’s basic spelling that every woman ought to know.” Mistinguett (Jeanne Bourgeois), Theatre Arts, 1955

Feel free to leave some tips or advice in the comment section. Ditto your favorite onscreen kisses! Or favorite written ones.


Silver James said...

My all time favorite is the waterfall scene in LAST OF THE MOHICANS, when Nathaniel/Hawkeye kisses Cora just before jumping out into the river--abandoning her so he can come back to rescue her. "I will find you!" he declares. *melt*

I don't recognize your first example...hint?

And I love the last quote. Not only should a woman know that, but everyone who writes romance!

Karyn Good said...

Oh my word, Silver. I love how he begs her to stay alive and than jumps off a cliff ledge into a raging river. And Uncas and Alice? :(

The first example is from the movie ATONEMENT with Keira Knightly and James MacAvoy. Wonderful book and wonderful movie.

I'm glad you loved the quote. I think it sums things up nicely!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Good post, Karyn.

Here is my favorite on-screen kiss:

- It's a Wonderful Life When George and Mary are both listening to a phone call and they're so close. They're searching each other's face and he's smelling her hair. And she's innocently looking up at him with her lips parted. After several minutes, George suddenly drops the phone and grabs her shoulders. He shakes her and shouts that he doesn't want to get married to her or anyone else and all the trappings it entails. Then suddenly he stops, pulls her into his arms and lays a heavy, passionate kiss on her while her arms wrap around him.

To me, that scene is so memorable not because of the kiss, but because of the anticipation of the kiss when they're standing so close, seeing and smelling each other.

Karyn Good said...

Hey Anita. What a powerful moment. I can instanly recall that scene to mind. Anticipation and the lead up are everything!

Jana Richards said...

Hi Karyn,
These are all good examples of great onscreen kisses. I haven't seen "Atonement", but it sounds like one not to miss. And speaking of Keira Knightly, she shares a kiss (or several) with Mr. Darcy in "Pride and Prejudice" in the last scene. She tells him he can only call her Mrs. Darcy when he's completely, incandescently happy. He kisses her cheeks, her eyes, her lips, each time whispering "Mrs. Darcy". Sigh.


Karyn Good said...

Hi Jana. That movie version of Pride and Prejudice is my favorite and I love that scene. It does make me sigh. Every. Time.

But I also like the almost kiss from that movie, too. And go figure, it's raining during that scene.

Ah, Mr. Darcy! He's one of my favorites heros.

Hayley E. Lavik said...

Karyn, I'm tempted to get into all sorts of symbolic suppositions of why rain makes a kiss that much hotter, but I won't ;)

Instead, I'll zero in on the trend in all these photos you chose, and some of the moments mentioned. By a wide majority, the best thing about a kiss winds up being the moment just before the kiss. Most of the pictures (and the clearest shot from Atonement) are pre-contact or barely contacting, and we've got tons of steamy anticipation in the comments (Anita latched right on to what matters most). It's the wanting that resonates strongest. The yearning and anticipation should never be sold short in a good kiss scene. I think in part it helps get the reader/viewer in the same mindset as the characters, so they can share in the emotion. If the kiss comes out of nowhere, we're surprised (which is also great) and have to catch up to the moment.

I think the same goes for sex a bit, when you get into the incredibly steamy kissing and such. It's still about the yearning and build-up for the next big thing.

Karyn Good said...

Hey there, Hayley. Symbolic suppositions. Sounds like an awesome blog topic!

Oh yes, the build up. The longing. The wanting. The hesitation. The decision. The fallout. And bringing the reader along for the ride. These scenes are so fun to write but challenging at the same time. How to go about it in a fresh, creative and unique kind of way? Hum...

Molli said...

I'm with Silver on this one, Karyn--what a marvelous quote you've given us at the end of your post.

Like you, for me the experience is indeed in the details and the anticipation. But I can't say that I keep track of favourites on screen or within the pages. I do remember one interesting story about screen kisses, though. If what I've read is correct, when Clark Gable and Vivian Leigh were working together on "Gone With The Wind" she complained fiercely about his breath. According to the story, he wore dentures but didn't keep them clean. If that's true all I can say (with a shudder) is "Yuck!!"

Thanks for the post, Karyn. It's been fun to read, and follow the comments.

Stephanie said...

Great post Karyn. One of my favorite kiss scenes is on Grey's Anatomy where two of the doctors (Yang and Hunt) are in some sort of maintenance room / ventilation exhaust room where they are on a steel grate and wind is blowing all around them. Scenes where someone runs and jumps up on a train for a kiss are also good.

Karyn Good said...

Hi Molli. I really like that quote, too. It says it all, really.

I remember reading the story about Clark Gable and his bad breath! I listened to Toby McGuire being interviewed after the Spiderman movie came out and, of course, they talked about the kiss. He remarked that he spend the whole time trying not to drown because water kept running down his nose!

Karyn Good said...

Hi Stephanie. So many great kisses! Setting plays a huge role in the mood of the scene. I agree, there's something very romantic about the effort and lengths a character will go to to capture a kiss!

Anita Mae Draper said...

Clark Gable never cleaned his dentures? Yuck is right!

No wonder Scarlett kept struggling with Rhett every time he tried to kiss her.