So for some reason, I’ve entered a small, lighthearted Internet writing contest that involves posting a kissing scene from some story or other. I’m obliged to post this scene on this blog; the entry after this one will thus be devoted to me doing so. However, the current entry constitutes this week’s Rant. I would therefore like to muse a bit about my attitude towards kissing scenes.
I’ve written a lot of novels (most of which no one will ever see) and a fair number of short stories, plus a towering pile of comics. How many kissing scenes have I got through in the course of my life? Well, that would be three. Two of them are in West of Bathurst, and one of those is a single panel long. I have created exactly one prose-fiction kissing scene. It appears in a novel I wrote a few years ago. The existence of this novel now embarrasses the hell out of me, but I did quite enjoy writing the kissing scene. There may have been a wee bit of meta in there somewhere.
The longer West of Bathurst kissing scene doesn’t exactly play the trope straight either. I don’t seem to be able to write a conventional kissing scene, probably because I tend to get rather impatient with such scenes myself. Some works handle kissing very well and actually make it relevant to the plot, which is always nice. Others include kissing for the sake of kissing. If an author is going to spend a page and a half describing a lingering kiss, it needs to have something to do with the story.
On the other hand, I do often wish that I didn’t shy away from writing kissing scenes. My reaction reminds me of the reaction of a certain actor who was playing a part in a musical a friend and I had written together. The play contained an “almost-kiss” scene, which is not quite the same thing as a kissing scene. The two characters needed to lean in towards each other at the end of their duet, then break apart before anything happened. The female actor simply couldn’t get through this scene. The almost-kiss embarrassed her. To cover up her embarrassment, she pretended to be running towards the male actor in slow motion; when we asked her to stop, she just kept squirming away from him in the middle of the scene and declaring that the whole thing made her feel stupid. We finally persuaded her to be a little less awkward about it, but she never quite got into the spirit of the scene. I think maybe I’m acting like her when I avoid kissing scenes. Perhaps I should learn to embrace the power of the Kiss.
As West of Bathurst is a comic, it’s not eligible for the kissing-scene contest. However, I’ll reproduce the relevant plotline below because I can. Those of you who read the comic may remember that that particular kiss was hugely relevant to the plot, albeit maybe not in the way you might expect a kiss would be. At any rate, it was fun to write. I may not be addicted to kissing scenes, but when I do use them, I am satisfyingly cruel to my characters.
Here is the West of Bathurst kissing scene, which originally ran between September 8th and 19th, 2008: