{Guest Post} Why We Write Kissing Scenes in YA with Stasia Ward Kehoe!

Happy Love Week, Bookworms!

To celebrate the fact that Valentine's Day is this week, today I pulled out an old but beloved post that will appeal to both writers looking to write excellent kissing scenes and readers curious about what goes through an author's mind when writing those scenes. ^.~

This post was original published on February 24, 2014, and I also have previously written reviews for both of Stasia Ward Kehoe's books if you'd like to find out more about them!


Stasia Kehoe grew up dancing and performing on stages from New Hampshire to Washington, DC. She now writes books for young adults and choreographs the occasional musical. Her novels AUDITION and THE SOUND OF LETTING GO are both written in verse.

Visit Stasia's website and follow her on Facebook and Twitter!

Why We Write Kissing Scenes in YA 
by Stasia Ward Kehoe!


As a writer of Young Adult fiction, I think a lot about kissing scenes. If you and I are Facebook friends or Twitter buddies, you already know I enjoy writing them. I also take them quite seriously because they are serious matters for many of my teen readers.

Back when I wrote my first YA novel, AUDITION, I posted a YouTube discussing HOW to write a kissing scene. The video was a bit tongue-in-cheek (no pun intended—heck, yes, pun intended!) but truthful.

Today, as I wrap up the blog tour for my second novel, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO, here at A BACKWARDS STORY, I’d like to approach the kissing scene from a Writing Craft perspective and share some of the WHY of including such moments in a story, particularly in the context of teen novels.


From catching the eye of a guy to banter and even to holding hands, the risks of romance are largely emotional (heartbreak, embarrassment). In getting to the point of kissing, we realize the parts of a physical relationship that we are actually afraid of (or not ready for; or don’t understand).  When characters kiss in a book (or on screen) there is a shift in their relationship—a change in the dynamic of the story.


Kissing is an act embued with meaning. It is something we DO for X minutes of time and then REFLECT UPON for exponentially MORE minutes. Especially at the beginnings of relationships. After that, we travel with that kiss into the rest of our world. We tell a friend or family member about a kiss, or confront a cheating partner about a kiss. A kiss can lead writers down many a fascinating plot path for which we are grateful since plots can sometimes be tricky!


What is a good kisser, emotionally and physically? Does a good kisser make a good boyfriend? Do you always kiss for the right reasons? Can BIG ISSUES be explored without going beyond the kissing point? Why or why not?

While I sometimes shy away from breaking the writing process down too much, I feel it can be useful to explore the WHY of dramatic moments, such as kisses, particularly if you feel you’ve written one that doesn’t quite have the intensity you would like. Knowing exactly WHY your character gives, or participates in, a kiss may help you realize how well you know the character in a larger sense. Changing the limit of “how far” a kiss is taken can have a dramatic effect on the way readers perceive the ongoing relationship between characters.

In the end, I think, a kiss can represent a reach outward for love. It's daring and dangerous, precious, fleeting, sometimes life-altering and, for the writer, always worth some extra moments of refinement.

Stasia Ward Kehoe’s second novel, THE SOUND OF LETTING GO is available now from AMAZON, B&N, INDIEBOUND and wherever books are sold. She is at work on a new manuscript in which, of course, there is a critical kissing scene. When not at her desk, she can be found teaching writing workshops in the Pacific Northwest and driving multitudinous carpools.

O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Stasia Ward Kehoe
Release Date: Feb. 6, 2014
Publisher: Penguin / Viking Children's
Received: For Review

For sixteen years, Daisy has been good. A good daughter, helping out with her autistic younger brother uncomplainingly. A good friend, even when her best friend makes her feel like a third wheel. When her parents announce they’re sending her brother to an institution—without consulting her—Daisy’s furious, and decides the best way to be a good sister is to start being bad. She quits jazz band and orchestra, slacks in school, and falls for bad-boy Dave.

But one person won’t let Daisy forget who she used to be: Irish exchange student and brilliant musician Cal. Does she want the bad boy or the prodigy? Should she side with her parents or protect her brother? How can she know when to hold on and when—and how—to let go?


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