Monday, August 15, 2011

The Disastrous Kiss

I love a book with just enough romance - give me a great fantasy, dystopian, or sci-fi with a driving romantic subplot and I am yours forever.

Of course, that's the kind of book I want to write. I'm not sure if I succeeded, (I mean, I think I did, but who am I to say?) but I wanted romance to be just enough of THE TRAVELERS to make hearts melt, but not so much that it was the whole story.

As I was reading ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis, and I had a lightbulb moment - one of the most awesome devices in a romantic subplot is something I'm calling "The  Disastrous Kiss."

Everyone loves a good near miss, but there are only so many times an author can pull that sucker before I start rolling my eyes and either flipping to the end of the book or wanting to throw it across the room. Probably the latter.

 Because, here's the thing. You know that character 1 and character 2 are Meant to Be Together, you know they're going to hook up eventually, so how many near misses can you use as conflict to draw out the tension? Not that many.

But The Disastrous Kiss? That's pure gold. There's just something incredibly heartwrenching and exhilarating about it, because you know in your heart of hearts that these two are Supposed to Be Together, yet the disastrous kiss is so horrifically AWFUL that you really don't see how they're going to overcome this most romantic of obstacles.

I really can't explain it any further than that without showing you an examples, which you may consider spoilery. So, warning - a pretty disastrous excerpt from ACROSS THE UNIVERSE after the pic. (It's in bold, so you can scroll through it to the rest of the post if you want.)

This kiss still could end in disaster.*

From ACROSS THE UNIVERSE by Beth Revis: 

And then - I'm not sure how it happens - but she takes a step closer and I take a step closer, and then we're both just entirely too close. 
And there is nothing between us but rain.
Then there is nothing between us at all.
My lips melt into hers. A drop of rainwater slips around the edge of my mouth, and then her lips part, and so do mine. The raindrop falls on my tongue, and then it's lost on hers. 
My body is drenched; I should be cold. But the warmth of her fills me.
My arms snake around her body, pulling her hard against me. I want to crush her into me.
I never want this to end.
And then -
-She's pulling away.
She's stepping back.
Her fingers are on her swollen lips.
Her eyes are wide and sparkling.
Raindrops drip down her cheeks, but it's not rain, and for the first time, I taste salt on my tongue.
"It's always in the rain," she murmurs. "With Jason, too."
And whoever this Jason is, I want to kill him.
"I'm sorry, she says, taking another step back. "I never meant to - 
And no, no, it's not supposed to be like this.

See how that just - ?  Oh my - excuse me - I'm a little breathless from my heart being torn out and thrown on the floor.

There's not really a Disastrous Kiss in THE TRAVELERS. (There's kind of a sad one, but it's not a disaster by any means.) But I learned my lesson. If I can throw a disastrous kiss into ONE anywhere, at all, I've gotta do it.

So...yeah. I already wrote one for ONE. And even though it's one of my darlings, it has to stay in that MS in some form or another. Critique Partners, you've been warned. I'm holding on to this baby with an iron grip.

What's your favorite Disastrous Kiss? Do you have one in your MS?

*Photo credit:*


  1. oh, I loved Across the Universe. and I love this line... " And whoever this Jason is, I want to kill him. " so romantic, LOL

  2. I was going to comment on the "And whoever this Jason is..." line but I see Cristina has already beat me to it. :)

    I can't think of any from YA books on the top of my head, and I don't have one in my current manuscript. If I did, though, considering the type of book it is, it'd be hilarious.

  3. Great scene from Across the Universe--makes me want to read it. I started it, but couldn't get into it. Maybe I'll have to try again.

    I actually have a similar kiss in my WiP where the girl my MC kisses is thinking about another guy. But it isn't written as well as that one!

  4. Thanks for your comments, you fabulous ladies!

    @Heidi - if you show me your disastrous kiss, I'll show you mine. :)

  5. Ahhh....mine. Well, it is from a rough draft, but here goes:

    “Why wouldn’t I want to be like you?” I ask. It is a whispered admission, full of everything that I’ve seen of her since meeting her. Has it only been days?

    I expect her to look away from me like she always does, but she doesn’t. She lifts her hand and places her palm against my chest. Her fingers are cold, and I shiver despite the warmth of the room.

    She moves in a rush toward me—her hands gripping my skin painfully. I wrap my arms around her and lift her up to me and she presses her lips against mine—hard. I can feel the length of her body against mine, and I squeeze her tighter, wanting to make her a part of me and erase all the distance between us. Her hands slide around my back and up into my hair, her fingertips like stiff wires sending electrical shocks into my mind and erasing all thoughts of anything but my desire for her.

    I am overly conscious of the bed right behind me. I want to throw her on it—sink into her and feel every part of her surrounding me. The only reason I don’t is because I don’t want to take the chance of messing this up.

    She pulls away from me as quickly as she grabbed me, her eyes wide and scared.

    “You even kiss like him,” she says.

    What? Who is him?

    Should I ask her? I’m fairly certain that I don’t want to know.

    But the real question is this—does that mean she doesn’t want me to kiss her again?

    The only thing I want right now is to get that moment back. I step toward her, but she backs away. I freeze, my desire telling me to grab her—my mind telling me to stop. The tug of war continues as she stands there, looking up at me, her lips slightly parted.

    She turns and bolts for the door. I let her go because I don’t trust myself—don’t trust that I could let her go if I had her in my arms again. There is a fine line between desire and being an asshole. And honestly, I don’t know which side of the line I’m standing on right now. And part of me doesn’t care.

    She kissed me.

    Everything I know about her shifts because of that kiss. And I know in a flash that if there was ever a possibility of me leaving, it just vanished. Because she is right—I do know what it is like to be alone. To be so desperately alone that you think about all the ways you could end it and wondering if death is just as lonely. And I can’t go back to that after feeling her pressed against me.

    Even if there is a him.