Whether you write YA novels or any other genre were romance occurs, there’s no emotional satisfaction if your characters meet one second and are making out (or having sex) the next. You need to build up to the moment. Tease your characters and readers. Take things slowly. And take them through the 12 steps to intimacy as originally described by author Linda Howard:
1. Eye to body
2. Eye to eye
3. Voice to voice
4. Hand to hand (or arm)
5. Arm to shoulder
6. Arm to waist or back
7. Kissing (mouth to mouth)
8. Hand to head
9. Hand to body
10. Mouth to breast
11. Hand to private parts
12. Private parts to private part (okay, you know what I mean).
Your characters don’t have to go through all the steps in the first meeting (though they can), and the steps don’t have to be done in this order (though don’t try #12 without hitting the majority of the others first).
I personally think it’s sexier when the guy’s lips travel over the female’s temple, jaw, throat, or shoulder before finding her lips. And don’t forget the kiss can range from the brushing of his lips against hers to the deepening of their kisses. Maybe the guy leans in to kiss her (maybe he even gets as far as brushing his lips against hers) and the kiss is interrupted by someone or something else. Always a favorite trick of mine. Also, by introducing just a few steps at a time, you can build the suspense, leaving your reader wondering whether the first kiss (or the more intimate, deepening kiss) is going to happen and when.
But please, don’t make your reader wait too long. Nothing drives me crazier than having to wait ¾ of the book before the main character and her love interest finally kiss (as in the YA paranormal novel I recently read). What I do love, though, is not knowing if they’re going to go all the way. Obviously that doesn’t work for all subgenres of romance. If you’re reading an erotic romance, you’re expecting some action to happen pretty quickly. Heck, you’re expecting action. Period. This is why it’s important to be well read in the type of books you want to write.
Questions: do you like waiting for the first kiss to happen or get frustrated if it takes too long? Do you prefer things to get steamy pretty quickly (depending on the genre, this could be a steamy make out scene or a mind numbing rump between sheets)? And what is your favorite type of first kiss?