Sunday, September 28, 2014

What's in a Word - It's in His Kiss

It's been a while since my last "What's in a Word" post, where I examine single words that I feel are lazy and should learn to work harder. Today's word: kiss.

"What's wrong with kiss?" you ask? Like "walk" and "look", it's a perfectly acceptable word...that conveys minimal information.

There are so many different kinds of kisses. The worried mother imparting a peck on the forehead to her nervous first-grader; that shy, fleeting connection of lips and cheek beneath the mistletoe; that drive-by, barely there, absent-minded morning kiss that leaves a sinking feeling in the heart, because you know, sense in every ounce of your being, the relationship you're reading about is on the skids. Then what about that toe-curling, heart-clenching, soul-searing tongue-to-tongue connection of two lovers reunited? Although all of these circumstances involve lips and are indeed "kisses", they are vastly different and short-change a story by being reduced to the lowest common denominator.

Let's use Henri and Seb from my latest release "A Matter of When" to make a point, shall we? Rocker Henri is self-assured, even as an emotional mess. Opera tenor Sebastian is shy and reserved, dedicated to his craft, and needs a bit of coaxing for kissing.

Henri kissed Seb. 

Okay. Yeah. They kissed. So what?

Henri dragged his lips down Sebastian's nose and across both cheeks before finally seeking out his lover's mouth. 

Slow, unhurried. These guys have time. And don't you think this is just the start of something that may continue all afternoon?

Henri took advantage of his lover's gasp, plunging his tongue into Sebastian's mouth. Sebastian hesitated but a moment then dropped his inhibitions, matching Henri stroke for stroke with a passion normally reserved for the stage.

See, very different circumstances. And "kiss" just wouldn't have set the mood. This also has added impact in that Seb is acting out of character, venturing out on a ledge and displaying trust with this one simple gesture.

Not all kisses are loving. In the story, Henri is placed in a situation where his freedom rides on his ability to prove he's crazy. Here's the scene:

He had to do something, anything, outrageous. Beyond rehab stints, trashed hotel rooms, or drunken brawls in seedy clubs. What to do? What to do? Escape lay at his fingertips if he could push his manager a fraction of an inch further. What the hell could he do to piss her off?
Gaze falling on the cop, Henri muttered, “Sorry, pal.” He brought both hands up to hold the officer’s head and slammed his lips down, initiating a game of tonsil hockey with a surprised opposing team.
Some authors have the ability to take the simple act of kissing to new heights and impart intimacy into the meeting of lips to rival any sex scene, to leave the reader breathless.

Like all other words I've mentioned in these posts, sometimes "kiss" is the right word to use. But others? Get creative. Or as the folks I beta for often hear, "Make me feel it!"

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