First Kiss Logistics

13 Dec

If you’re easily offended, please read this blog. Just kidding.

The word ‘logistics’ usually associates with a precise military operation – or, at least, the entire scope of acquisition, maintenance, and replenishment of supplies and people necessary for some military action. The business community has borrowed the term (as they liken themselves to warriors) to capture the start-up, rollout, and coordination of a business venture.

As a writer of the romantic (laced, of course, with dead bodies and political conspiracy), I presume to borrow ‘logistics’to address the no-going-back-cat’s-out-of-the-bag moment when two people lock lips for the first time. Before this point, we can do the flirtation parry and thrust with the option of retreat. Once you signal your intent to plant one, there’s no going back. You can’t pretend you haven’t been dying all along to know what that hottie’s body would feel like next to your own . . . heh heh heh . . . so to my point –

 As a writer, I need to think through a variety of factors to carry my reader through the story. And I better not muck it up because as a reader, nothing bugs me more than to be caught up in a romantic moment only to have something jar me back to analyzing the mechanics of said moment. Don’t let your reader get their head out of your story to think through whether a particular sequence of events is logical much less biologically possible.

So, what should I consider for kissing logistics in my scenes?

Height: Relative height affects angle and might imply arm/hand placement.

I want to cringe every time I read about the 6’ 6” hero burying his face in the 5’ 4” heroine’s cleavage while they stand on a windy cliff. Not just because I’m afraid of heights and the whole windy cliff thing gives me hives, but in commiseration. I mean seriously, the poor man’s back must be spasming like crazy given the angles.

Hygiene: Does this really require an explanation?

I love reading a good historical; every healthy woman appreciates a well hung kilt and a fast horse. But I get into the story and the same issues crop up for me, especially when the author tries to keep description and circumstance authentic. When do they brush their teeth? How many dazzling white smiles were even possible before braces and teeth whitening kits? And well . . . there’s the smell.

Circumstances: The intensity, duration, and outcome of the kiss should correspond to current and anticipated events.

I have no problem with a passionate embrace – however extensive – before some cataclysmic battle or while on the run from the bad guys. I know others might disagree, but I think a properly structured and motivated love scene can heighten the pace in those situations. However, I do not believe a hero and heroine will pull out of a hot pursuit to fool around. It’s about primary and secondary motivation. If our hero and heroine are on the brink of a big bad whatever, then maybe it’s the old ‘I don’t want to die a virgin’ cliché. But if our hero is a moment from capturing an evildoer, he will not become distracted if ‘she runs her pink tongue across her full moist bottom lip’ (don’t bust my chops on the purple prose; I’m on a deadline for crying out loud). The point is, even a hormonally charged fifteen-year-old boy would keep his eye on the prize not the pucker.

What do you advise for writing about the first kiss? I’d ask for personal stories about first kisses, but then I’d have to share mine (he missed and got my left nostril) – oops. Sorry Ken.


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22 responses to “First Kiss Logistics

  1. ramblingsfromtheleft

    December 13, 2011 at 6:39 AM

    Thanks Liz. It’s early and I am sans my first cup of coffee. What better way to open my eyes than to consider this cunundrum? I love a well placed first kiss, that wild passionate first roll … and speaking of logistics … rolling in the hay or passionate love on the sand makes me break out in hives! I actually did two posts last year about “the first kiss” … but I mean the actual FIRST kiss and each one were two kids from old short stories about kids and first kisses. I guess the question is … “How do two porcupines make love?” Ah yes, very carefully 🙂

    • Liz Fredericks

      December 13, 2011 at 10:40 AM

      Oh my goodness – I’m so with you on the hay . . and sand . . . pine needles. I can’t imagine the blog helping sans a first cup of coffee but what a nice compliment.

  2. Janis McCurry

    December 13, 2011 at 7:15 AM

    Ah, yes. The first kiss. I try to get to the true emotion or “the why” of it. The “why” directs the “what kind” of kiss. FREX, as mentioned the h/h are about to escape the bad guy by jumping off a cliff into a raging river. Butch and Sundance if you will, “The fall will probably kill us.” If Butch and Sundance were male and female, they would have done a quick, but heartfelt kiss before jumping. It’s a “just so you know, I’m glad it’s you I’m with” kind of thing. The adrenalin is pumping and it’s an expression that the h/h really want to convey before they die. They don’t want to fool around but acknowledge there was something between them.

    A first kiss to console is sweet, tender, not I’m going to suck your face into oblivion. There are so many types of first kiss. I look for the why first and then concentrate on logistics because, you’re right, it takes the reader out if you mess it up. In our critique group, we’ve been known to role play to visualize a scene. I remember in particular the one in the cab of a truck. Try figuring out a kiss in that one!

    • Liz Fredericks

      December 13, 2011 at 10:42 AM

      You had me at ‘suck your face into oblivion’ – that’s a genius deep POV thought for a heroine who doesn’t want to be kissing a person. And yes . . . I recently had that thought personally. 😉

  3. Meredith Conner

    December 13, 2011 at 9:14 AM

    First – Janis my first kiss with my husband WAS indeed in the cab of a truck – I live in a small, relatively redneck farming community with bad winters – trucks are standard transportation. I’m an expert in the logistics of that 🙂
    Second – “eye on the prize and not the pucker” – still snickering! I love the first kiss moment! The build up, the anticipation, the delight. If it’s done right and well – it can bring that moment back for me. Sigh.
    The only thing I can think of in a first kiss from a writer’s standpoint is to make it realistic. It doesn’t happen in the first 2 minutes of meeting or three months after they’ve been dating either. It’s somewhere in between and it should contain the magic that a first kiss deserves.

    • Liz Fredericks

      December 13, 2011 at 10:44 AM

      That’s exactly why the first kiss in a story matters to me, Meredith. I want just an inkling of those feelings. Now, while my nostril-kiss wasn’t exactly satisfying . . . oh, the anticipation.

  4. Peggy Staggs

    December 13, 2011 at 9:26 AM

    I’m still stuck on the hygiene thing. Yuck! I wouldn’t have survived in those days.
    Plopping in a first kiss (or any kind for that matter) in the middle of high action leaves the land of reality. I’ve seen it done in the movies. I always wonder if the writers were throwing darts at a board of scenes instead of thinking about them.
    I deal more with dead bodies than first kisses. So when I get there I’m going to be calling for help. After all getting blown over a cliff could really put a not-so-great spin on the plot.

  5. Liz Fredericks

    December 13, 2011 at 10:50 AM

    Well, really, doesn’t some of the same context matter when we’re looking at dead bodies. Aren’t there just some places that one isn’t going to happen suddenly across a dead body without implications?

  6. Levi Montgomery

    December 13, 2011 at 11:06 AM

    Surprise the characters, because that’s how life does it, half the time:

    She decides quite suddenly. She can keep being Miriam, if it pleases Chase, but she can’t let him know how easy it was. She turns back to him, frowning. Who are you, to decide who has given me what? she’s going to ask him, but she pauses first, and in that tiny pause, he leans his head forward across the inches between them and kisses her on the lips.

    She jerks back and stares at him, the frown almost real now. “What was that for?” she asks him sternly.

  7. Liz Fredericks

    December 13, 2011 at 11:21 AM

    Wow, Levi, that’s great!!

  8. Levi Montgomery

    December 13, 2011 at 1:54 PM

    Thanks! I should point out that “being Miriam” refers to the fact that he’s just discovered he has not known her true name, and not to some weird fantasy. 🙂

  9. Liz Fredericks

    December 13, 2011 at 2:15 PM

    Your reference was entirely clear to me. Like I said . . . really excellent vignette to illustrate your point on structuring the scene.

  10. Mary Vine

    December 13, 2011 at 3:52 PM

    Funny, I’m reading a story where the couple is on out on a ledge like you described. He didn’t have a problem leaning down, so he must not be that tall 🙂 More than the first kiss, I love the chase so that when they finally get there it doesn’t matter to me just that I’d been waiting for it and there it is.

  11. Liz Fredericks

    December 13, 2011 at 4:09 PM

    Thanks Mary! We’re in sync on the chase – love the payoff.

  12. Suzie Quint

    December 13, 2011 at 6:45 PM

    Totally agree about the height thing. Some writers seem to lose track of where all the body parts are and write contortionist entanglements. Nothing knocks me out of a story faster than wondering how they did “that.”

  13. Liz Fredericks

    December 13, 2011 at 9:33 PM

    You made me laugh, Suzie! That’s exactly it! When I find myself craning my head from side to side in an unconscious bid to picture it – then there’s a problem.

  14. Johanna Harness

    December 13, 2011 at 11:16 PM

    I really enjoyed your post, Liz! And Levi–so delightful to see you here too!

  15. Patsy

    December 14, 2011 at 6:59 AM

    Great post! Made me laugh!

    • Liz Fredericks

      December 14, 2011 at 12:49 PM

      Thanks Patsy and thanks for stopping by the site.

  16. Clarissa Southwick

    December 14, 2011 at 4:12 PM

    Great blog, Liz. I think the best advice I ever got on “kissing” scenes was to treat them like any other action scenes. The characters need goals, motivation, conflicts, obstacles, etc. And something has to change between the beginning and end of the scene.

  17. Rick

    September 1, 2016 at 8:53 AM

    First kiss in a car is very good place to consider, as you have the capability to control the general environment. Temperature, sound, and outdoors ambience of location all come to mind as constructs for the perfect moment. Other places can produce a similar comfort level, but in a car you are sitting down. This solves the another problem of height differences. Ok, the twisting and turning sideways has to be overcome, but the nose creates a sideways approach anyway.


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