Writing the steam ;)

28 Apr

You know what I’m talking about friends… That’s right “the steam” of a novel. Most current YA literature and the majority of adult literature have a little romance going on.

Lets face it though, writing “the steam” isn’t always fun or easy… Infact it can be amazingly difficult, and awkward. After all it can be really hard to gage how well a kiss is working on a reader, and how far you can push the “cheese factor” before something breaks.

Infact a lot of authors (ones you wouldn’t even expect) have tried to avoid this all together, Maggie Stiefvater for instance. You know NYT bestseller of Shiver, Linger, and Lament? Yes her. Infact Maggie has said that, originally her editor had to BEG her to write in just one kissing scene in Lament! She had refused to do so in her original submission.

So, this makes me feel a whole lot better about putting off writing my kissing scene. Yes… I’ll admit it I’ve pushed it off a little bit. I suppose I just haven’t known how to attack it. You see my MC and her Interest have a very tense love/hate relationship, and balancing their personalities with how the plot needs to flow is difficult, and I’m not going to lie, I hate writing kissing scenes. I’d much rather write gothic violence, or a heated argument. Kissing… not exactly my forte.

The question now is how you balance the “cheese factor” while giving the reader what they want. After all pushing a kiss too far back, or even worse not giving one at all, could make a reader feel cheated, and that’s the last thing you want to do right?

First off, know your characters. I feel like I say this a lot in my explanations of how to create better work but it’s so true. Knowing who your characters are, and how they work will drastically change how anything and everything runs in your book. A shy character likely will not impulsively kiss someone in an argument, while a flighty hostile one might. In contrast that shy character might completely “shut down” in an argument and be pushed farther away from a love interest.

Second: Knowing where the “Cheese Line” is.

I feel like this is the most difficult to explain, understanding where to draw the line for cheesy to cute is hard, but here are a few ground rules:

1. If you scene contains any clichés kiss it goodbye (i.e. a kiss sweeter than honey etc.)

2. If you don’t think that someone would say this in real life don’t put it in there. Be honest with yourself after you kiss someone are you going to slap them in the face, or throw yourself into hysterics? Probably not…. Unless you’re Scarlet from Gone with the Wind  (O… and no, you are not her)

3. Go with your gut, if it feels okay, it usually is.

My Final point:

Don’t be afraid of the steam. Avoiding it will do a lot more damage to your novel (or short story) than facing it head on. Try to remember that this is NOT ABOUT YOU! Yes, I said it, it’s NOT ABOUT YOU, it’s about your characters. If your character would kiss this person right now write it! How you feel about the steam is totally inconsequential. In order to create a “reality” for readers you need to give into your characters and let the steam fog up some mirrors!


PS I am so sorry for not being on top of posting lately, it’s so unlike me! Thanks for being so patient all, I’ll try to clear out more of my schedule for Novel Ideas this week!


15 Responses to “Writing the steam ;)”

  1. gabriellan April 28, 2011 at 5:19 pm #

    I would rather write a fighting scene than a kissing scene. The first one’s much simpler! Great advice, though.

    • nkeda14 April 30, 2011 at 6:16 pm #

      Soooo much simpler! LOL

  2. max April 28, 2011 at 5:43 pm #

    thanks ally that helps alot!

  3. digitaloutcast April 28, 2011 at 10:24 pm #

    It’s difficult to write “steamy scenes” when your one decent novel moves at a break-neck pace and is basically a trip to Hell and back through a guantlet of machine gun fire and explosions, metaphorically of course. oh, and when your entire cast is 99% percent Israeli military…haha, no steam, not in that one at least. and the main female character is a covert agent and spends the whole of the book sneaking around so…

    • nkeda14 April 30, 2011 at 6:18 pm #

      LOL Fighting is always good too 😀 after all, all is fair in love and WAR!

  4. juanvillagrana April 29, 2011 at 8:28 pm #

    I know what you mean about the awkwardness! But I have to admit that sometimes I do try to put off the steamy scenes, which is why there’s only one in SS. Either way, I know I’ll have to modify some things in it to make it more believable, since I realized that the characters kind of act like cardboard aftewards…oops.
    And I totally prefer writing fight scenes any day, even though those ALSO needs some major polishing in my third draft!

    • nkeda14 April 30, 2011 at 6:19 pm #

      HAHA there always seems to be polishing to do doesn’t there? :/ i’m in the same boat as you at the moment… really need to work on my fight and kiss scene.

  5. Liz Hellebuyck May 3, 2011 at 1:30 pm #

    Whenever I try to write a kissing scene, the only things that come to mind are cliches.

    I like your tip number two. I think it will help me a lot.

    Thank you.

    • nkeda14 May 3, 2011 at 6:07 pm #

      Welcome 😀 Glad you got something out of my ramblings!

  6. peacesigngirl21 May 3, 2011 at 9:12 pm #

    Fighting scenes are really hard to write for me…I try to end them too fast and I make the kill too easy. Steamy scenes are just awkward, because I’m not sure whether or not I’ve done well on them. I can’t really show them to anyone for advice/opinions, because it’s just…awkward.
    This post really helped me! 😀

    • nkeda14 May 3, 2011 at 9:50 pm #

      Yeah! I feel accomplished, I helped someone!

      I get what you mean about the awkwardness lol, you just have to find someone who you feel comfortable sharing EVERYTHING with, like Santa… or IDK a crit partner? haha

      Good luck!


  1. Teen Writer Shares Tips on Writing Romance; Breakian Submissions Open!Teen Writers Community | Teen Writers Community - April 30, 2011

    […] day that I received a romantic kind of Breakian submission, I happened upon this blog post from a Teen Writer. Check it out and let us know what you […]

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