Exercise 1: “Write a scene in which someone is kissed for the first time”

[Steph: Or two scenes, perhaps straying a little from the prompt, and one in which someone is almost kissed for the first time.]


She is his first girlfriend. In the morning, he showers longer than he used to, plans his clothes with better care, turning up the collars of his golf shirt, spritzing on cologne. He remembers to brush his teeth after breakfast.

At school he holds the door, her books, her lunch, her hand. He sits beside her in the caf, arm casually around her shoulder, just so, conscious of how he looks, how she looks, pert breasts pushing against her tight tee-shirt, how she smells like strawberry lip gloss and cotton candy perfume—

In the dark, all pretence gone, he relaxes, fumbles, kisses her shyly, says in her ear what he thinks she’d like to hear. He is sweet, and she will remember this.

The Thing Is

You lean in to kiss her and just as she closes her eyes you think better of it and sit back. Everyone kisses on impulse and you know too many people who regret it. The thing is, this doesn’t have to be a romance. It’s just expected in some way by the unseen watching your story unfold. It’s not unlikely you might fall in love but it’s not only too soon, it’s cliché, and if there’s anything you’ve learned about living out a story, it’s that clichés may be long-lasting but they quickly become uninteresting and naturally predictable, even if the endless variations on a theme continue to impress those who think they’re art. This is real life, not some romantic comedy in which characters profess their love for each other, actually using the word love, after a mere afternoon of fun. No, you decide, today your lips are sealed.

She opens her eyes and you grab her hand. Let’s go out, you say.


2 thoughts on “Exercise 1: “Write a scene in which someone is kissed for the first time”

  1. Noooo! ~ That was my reaction at the end of this post. It’s the violent reaction of a reader who got caught up in the emotion of the second scene, which I think is heightened by the sharp contrast with the romance and naivete of the boy in the first scene. After such a sweet encounter, I couldn’t help but pull for the more cautious “you” of the second scene.

    The first line of that scene sets the tone, I think: “You lean in to kiss her and just as she closes her eyes you think better of it and sit back.” I find that a powerful opening — concise, filled with dramatic tension, and hinting at a much deeper story. I find the ending heartbreaking, and I love the image of the girl’s eyes opening and the boy grabbing her hand even as he pulls away from the intimacy of a kiss. Her disappointment is palpable, as is his desire to hold on to whatever they have and his fear of getting too close.

    Nicely done, Steph!

    • Yayyyy! Thank you!! Not only for the compliment but for seeing much in two short scenes, and in their juxtaposition. I appreciate your comments. And it’s good that you felt so strongly. I find these very short scenes easier than stories but want them to have some impact, too.

      Thanks so much, Jaclyn!

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