Today we are talking about writing romance, seduction, the yearning of hearts… and loins. In other words, romantic chemistry!
Have you ever found yourself putting your pen to paper, but something about your character interactions isn’t working out? You ask yourself, “How do I improve romantic chemistry between my characters?” In your mind, you feel the heat between your characters, but how do you transmit that to your readers?
You needn’t look any further. This blog gives you 3 suggestions to spice up your character chemistry by using great romance novels as references. Whether you’re writing a novel, short story or flash fiction, these tips will be your formula for creating the most amazing characters with the most unbelievable chemistry.
1. Build the Anticipation
It is a fact universally acknowledged that most readers worth their salt do not like instant romance. Instantaneous romance is not only unrealistic, but it also feels rushed and anticlimactic. Your readers are not getting the time and heart to learn about your characters. It’s like skipping the foreplay to simply get your rocks off.
So the first tip I have for you is: give your characters time to connect, not merely to flirt, but to interact with any kind of passion, including anger and hate. This helps spike interest and intrigue in your readers.
In a romance novel, convincing your audience that your characters have chemistry requires that you build the anticipation. Your audience needs to be teased yet needs to root and long for your darlings. They need to develop an individual attachment with your fictional characters before collective attachment.
Take for instance Shots in the Dark by Mel Sterling, in which Gard and Gilly slow-burn their way to love, gripping their readers tightly. At the same time, pages seem to fly by. Gard the amputee vet, and Gilly the coffee shop manager interact early on, but their romance blossoms gradually. This book’s pacing is ideal as we find ourselves attaching individually to Gilly and Gard before they come together. Simple, but so effective!
2. Sustain Character Friction
Opposites attract in real life, and a lot of the time, the same happens in romance fiction. Give your characters opposite traits… yet in a way that they somehow complement each other. Though your characters are so unlike, they are better when together. Things are steamier; there is a kind of harmony.
This is something that Giveth & Taketh by Carey Weir manages so well. Samantha is a college student struggling with Sociology and can’t stand her mean but good-looking Sociology professor, Reese Bentley. They have cold exchanges in the classroom, and the readers are left thinking, “No way are they going to end up together.” But when one angry night turns into a heated one, Samantha is left waiting, wanting, and watching. There is something between them… chemistry? Lust? Desire? Stupidity? Only time will tell.
As a reader, the heat between these two will get your juices flowing. The I can’t stand you, I can’t stay away from you fascination, will make you thirst for more. Though the characters are so different, they still come to add something to the lives of their partner. Their differences, though they may evoke constant conflict, end up as a catalyst for growth and joy.
3. Introduce Multi-Dimensionality in Characters
Do you know what makes many fiction books mediocre? The character chemistry is shallow and uni-dimensional. To make your characters and their chemistry memorable, you need to make their attraction deep. Did you know that there are five different types of attractions you can use?
- Physical attraction; a desire to sexually touch and be touched by another person
- Intellectual attraction; a yearning to be close to someone for their intelligence
- Social attraction; a need to engage with someone because of how they carry themselves socially.
- Emotional attraction; a longing for someone due to their emotional aptitude or beliefs.
Either of these elements as a stand-alone can create decent platonic relationships, but what really lifts your romantic chemistry off is the coming together of multiple elements. Look at Find Your Way Home by Jackie Ashenden. What makes the chemistry sizzling hot between Isabella and Chase is that they started out with only physical attraction in their friends-with-benefits situation. But they ended up embodying all types of attraction above to fall in love with each other. That was a fulfilling journey as a reader.
From Pride and Prejudice to The Fault in Our Stars, one of the most important things that sticks with readers is the unique, romantic chemistry of the characters. Books with amazing character chemistry are not easy to write, but by implementing the advice given in this blog, you will have a fantastic start and a solid foundation for your writing.