K.M. Weiland writes, “Character chemistry can make all the difference in creating a superior story.”
So, how do you put the chemistry sizzle between characters in your story? That’s a big question for a lot of us writers because a lot of readers want romance and fire and good swoony things between characters even when the book isn’t actually a romance.
Well-storied.com is a great site with a ton of sources and information and it was my first stop when I was trying to figure out what exactly is romantic chemistry. Though I write it a lot, truth is I’m not someone who thinks of my own real-life self as very romantic or even very romanceable.
I am, however, someone who has no qualms about making up a word like romanceable.
So, the wonderful Kristen Kieffler wrote,
“Like all relational chemistry, a key ingredient in romantic chemistry is attraction, the pull that interests one person in another. But the types of attraction that create romantic interest will vary from person to person. In fact, there are four main types of attraction that you can use to craft a romantic profile for your characters. Let’s take a look:
Physical Attraction: a desire to touch and be touched by another person, often in a sexual manner.
Intellectual Attraction: a desire to engage with someone due to their intellect and/or interests.
Social Attraction: a desire to interact with someone because of their social aptitude; their confidence, humor, ambition, likability, and/or particular social personality traits.
Emotional Attraction: a desire to connect with someone on a spiritual level, an attraction often prompted by a person’s emotional capacity, attitude, beliefs, or shared experiences.”
Over on K.M. Weiland’s Helping Writers Become Authors, she has a piece about the five steps to write great chemistry between characters and says,
“When we have great chemistry with someone, we discover an almost instinctive synchronization that allows us to rest into our peak energy while easily batting back and forth the ball of interaction.”
And that happens between all the characters in your story, just in different ways.
So then the question becomes how to do it?
First think of these things:
- You have to make it believable. Your reader has to get why these two or three or whatever are falling for each other. So that means you have to have well developed characters.
- You want to add dimension to your characters even if they are stereotypes like cop and reporter or um, secretary and his CEO, or teacher and the hot mom. It isn’t just about the demographics/stereotypes, but the psychographics and what makes them tick.
- Think about the kinds of attraction Kieffler talks about and make sure that you have a couple of them going on. Show it, don’t tell it. Nobody wants to read, “Carrie thought Shaun was hot.” They want to read, “Shaun stretched out, climbing onto the extra stove in the garage to get the hummingbird out between the windowpanes. ‘Come on, little guy,’ he whispered. ‘You’ve got this.’ Carrie tried not to stare at Shaun’s biceps flexing and relaxing as he tried to coax the hummingbird into his hand. Carrie failed.”
Pretty good stuff, right? I’m going to be going much more in depth on this on my substack, which you can find here.
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