Friday, January 29, 2010

How Much Is Too Much? -- A Kiss On Paper...

The other day my friend/writer and current pre-reader Chris Janzen and I had an email conversation about romance. Well, romance writing anyway and, more specifically, how much is too much. You may recall that I posted my faux pas in becoming so excited that I sent my pre-readers another chunk of the A Marriage of Necessity story without a pivotal paragraph. That paragraph just so happened to be a kissing scene that took them from playful flirtation to fumbling over her buttons. Now keep in mind that I am trying REALLY hard to make this a book that any woman would be comfortable reading yet still satisfy my need for romance and love.

That brings me to my question of today: How much really is too much? What are you comfortable with? Do you want to have the author gloss over the details while giving you enough that you know what is happening or would you prefer it spelled it?

In this particular section with Mark and Terry from A Marriage of Necessity I rather glossed over the details (not to say that is necessarily how it will end up when all is said and done):

She screamed again and dissolved into laughter as he growled and snapped then playfully bit her neck. She stared at him wide-eyed, her smile replaced with expectation. “Kiss me, Mark,” she whispered as he lowered his lips to hers.

Hunger was the only word to describe what passed between them; that all out need to satisfy needs and to be needed. Mark hastily led his new bride to his room where they fumbled and stumbled like love struck teenagers.

Now compare that to the kiss between David and Elizabeth from another story that will be forthcoming eventually. The working title of this book is Everything Old Is New Again:

I can’t do this,” she whispered. He stood behind her. She could feel his body pressing ever closer to hers. His hands, those same hands that had pulled her close, helped to warm her on the bus with the broken window, now caressed her upper arms. Only now they were not the hands of a young schoolboy. They were hands of experience, hands that knew…
His fingers tracked across her back, enticing as they moved up to pull the hair away from her neck. She closed her eyes as he kissed her bare shoulder, cursing herself for having chosen this dress for the night’s event. It had been chosen for a purpose, this purpose. His lips, so warm, traced a sensual line up to her slender neck where his tongue drew tantalizing circles along her jaw line.
“Oh please, David.” Her voice was breathless, testifying to the war that raged within. His other hand slipped down, curving around her waist to quickly turn her to face him.
“Yes you can,” he said as their eyes locked. She blinked slowly; intoxicated by the moment. Had she truly thought that if she fanned the embers of those long-suppressed flames, they would not, in fact, engulf her? She moistened her lips, her eyes trailed down to his; full, sensual lips slightly smiling, waiting, knowing. She smiled as she looked back at his eyes that danced with a mixture of mischief and desire. How many years she had waited for this moment; wondered, dreamed.
“You want to. It’s why you came,” he said as his head began to lower toward hers.
As if on cue, her cell phone rang. She looked toward it. The photo of her smiling children stared back from the phone’s face. She laughed, moving away from him.

Which do you like better? The situations are pretty much the same; there’s a neck kiss and then lips lowering to lips. Yet 2 paragraphs with little detail are used in the first compared to 6 in the later. Do they conjure up differing emotions? Are you comfortable with one over the other? I want to hear from you. Just think, your opinion MAY result in the way I proceed with the A Marriage of Necessity book. Will I give you co-author status? Undoubtedly, NO! :)


  1. I like both. I think it all depends on the flavor of the book and the point you are trying to get across. If the scene brings about emotions that are pertinent to the plot then I think it needs to be more detailed. If you are just showing a transition or cementing the idea behind their relationship then it doesn't have to be as intense.

  2. I like what Kerri says but also think perhaps you could add a little more to the Mark and Terry book without having to be too graphic. I like it when you leave some things to the imagination. I don't need full blown details in fact I don't go for those kind of books and I read all the time. Just remember YOU are the author (or authoress :) ) Do it your way.

  3. I totally concur with anonymous...some things should be left to the imagination and for the reader to draw their own conclusions. However in the Mark and Terry scene, it was just a bit too choppy and out of character for those characters to start "fumbling over buttons" when they had not even shared their first kiss. I personally think that first kiss should be magical, romantic, but not necessarily sexual. Like something interrupts...which I think you did with the answering machine.

  4. asked! (grin) And you asked EVERYONE which includes me. hehe I love your writing and the fact that you write about romance. I think Kerri was right about it depending on what point you're trying to get across.

    I don't think there's anything wrong with "fumbling over buttons" if the characters are experiencing sexual feelings. But, since you are the romance queen, I'm sure you'll go with Chris' advice about the "magical, romantic" kiss ya'll so love. I'm all for romance, too. But, we're all adults here...and sexual tension is a huge part of what attracts us to one another. Then again, I write erotica. So what do I know?

    But...the only reason I came here was to tell you what kind of kiss is my favorite. And since I think kissing is the ultimate and the greatest foreplay there is...MY favorite kiss is the one that comes after all these torturous moments of aching to kiss someone, coming so close and not kissing them, dreaming of their lips soft against your neck, making your body tingle, longing for them to find your mouth,emotions so wild you don't dare let go...but finally experiencing that moment where you are tasting them for the first time, sharing that heated breath of passion, drinking them in...long, slow, deep, soft and wet.

  5. Kind of needed that kiss to get them from A to C. Never bypass B, huh?! I can just imagine what a letdown that scene must have been with the missing scene after the build-up. Hopefully the final copy will live up to expectations. Chris has read a lot of my writing and knows what I'm capable of producing!

  6. Dina, my feather friend, you should never mince words and I am so very glad you do not. I look forward to the day when you are the published writer as your words are always poetic and packed with emotion, regardless of whether the topic is romance or not. Thank you for your input.

  7. Well, I must agree with Dina. I adore kissing (you asked!)and when I write, I tend to spell things out. It depends on the genre, however, and what you want to say and who your audience is. I have noticed that many Christian lit romances add a sexual tension that is unrealistic. (one book the character in a little house on the prairie setting stripped naked and walked across the newly plowed field to her beloved to show she belonged to him and was coming to him with nothing!!! I understood the symbolism, but she could have broken her neck!) Often, you can leave your reader with their imagination. It will generally supply more than you ever can, anyway. PS-David must be a jerk!

  8. Actually Kazul, you will end up really liking David! He had a moment where he was caught up, just like her. Fortunately, things turn out pretty good in the end. (Yes, I already know the ending to that one even though it isn't done)