01 April 2016

Attraction & Chemistry

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

He held out the pencil to me. I reached out to take it, making sure my fingers touched his. I didn’t expect anything, but he was much quicker to react this time. He held on to the pencil for just a few seconds, with this cute little smirk on his lips. I felt my face getting hot. I yanked it out of his hand, scribbled down my reason, then handed it back to him.

One of the things I constantly worry about with my characters is if they have chemistry. Does the attraction seem real or one sided? Is it even there at all? Will anyone care?

With any story involving a romance, as normal or demented as it may be (Like mine! If you didn't already know, you will definitely come to discover over the course of this month...), your characters have to have chemistry. If there isn't a certain spark between two love interests, then no one is going to buy that they would get together. Or worse, they won't care.

So how do you pull it off? How do you make that spark happen? I think it starts with attraction. Chemistry is going to be hard to come by if your characters don't find one another attractive first. There are different ways to show this. They could just come out and say it, if they're bold enough. Or, they can think it. My book is in first person, so when my main character, Jordan, first meets his love interest, Tom, he tells the reader pretty much immediately that he finds him attractive. This could work for third person, too, especially if you allow the character's thoughts to be known. Maybe you could even find out what both characters are thinking, even if it has to take some time to shift point of view.

So you've got attraction. Now it's time for chemistry. You'll want your readers to want your characters to get together, to ache for it until it finally happens and then they're jumping for joy (my story is a bit more complicated than that, but that's a post for another day). Do the characters give in to their attraction right away or do they try to fight it? Do they flirt all the time or do they just try to avoid each other? In my case, one character is an obvious flirt, while the other tries desperately to not give in to that desire, but occasionally he can't help it. So flirting happens. There are plenty of ways to show chemistry between characters, but it's important that every time they get together, that spark is still there.

Once that chemistry is established, the events of the story may change it. When they finally get together, does that spark get stronger or diminish? Do emotions get involved and change the dynamic? Does chemistry evolve into love or hatred? The possibilities are endless.

How do you show chemistry between characters? What's the most interesting way your characters have flirted? (In the above quote, my characters were also solving a geometric proof!)


  1. I never know if I'm getting the chemistry thing right. My characters never flirt or do anything normally. I remember a while back, I was writing this story with these two characters, and their relationship sort of builds and evolves, and leads up to this single kiss. And I was never sure it worked until one day I came home to find a message waiting for me from a beta reader, freaking out (in a good way) over the fact that these two characters had finally kissed.

    Flirting over a geometic proof is certainly an interesting way to do it!

  2. Great start to the A-Z Challenge. @CazsBooks http://cazgreenham.blogspot.com Welcome Aboard Greenham's Yacht

  3. Between their thoughts and telepathy, my characters thought it first. And it was definitely one sided in the beginning.

  4. Yes! This!
    And I love those moments the very most. The build up! It kills me, but I love it, so I make my readers suffer for it too!

    Great start!
    Heather M. Gardner / @hmgardner
    Co-Host, Blogging from A to Z April Challenge
    The Waiting is the Hardest Part

  5. Interesting post. The book I'm working on isn't a romance, so I never really thought about attraction of chemistry. But, it does feature an older married couple and it wouldn't be a bad idea to make sure that their feelings for each other are believable, even if they're well past the initial romance stage.

    Looking forward to seeing what you've got lined up for B :-)

    Cheers - Ellen | http://thecynicalsailor.blogspot.com/2016/04/a-is-for-anchor-nancy-drew-investigates.html

  6. I think a lot of chemistry gets revealed in the way characters react to each other, even if they fight their attraction. (Or ESPECIALLY if they fight their attraction to each other.)

  7. I haven't really had any of my characters flirting much and I do think that is hard to write. I hope I showed the attraction with my Aquinnah characters though, I think that was easier in a way since they couldn't be together so the longing was easier to show.

    Interesting post and theme. Good luck with the challenge!

  8. It helps to have an idea of what exactly about each character attracts the other. In my WIP, the female protagonist is attracted by his confidence in her--his willingness to let her be because he knows she is a capable human being. He is attracted to her because she makes him laugh and she is a totally honest person. Once you have those qualities pegged, you can create dialogue showing how that attraction manifests and builds through the story. Enjoyed your post. Looking forward to B.

  9. I guess I'm always after tension between the two. If I can balance that, I think the chemistry evolves and sustains itself.

  10. Love your snippit! That's a great example of attraction and chemistry. It's so hard to do when and not make it sound over done and mush lol. I love to let my chracters take those secret glances when they think the other doesn't notice. It's fun to write and if you keep it a lil one sided you can keep a bit of mystery as to weather the feelings are returned until the moment is right to reveal so.

    Gladiator's Pen

  11. Oh boy... there are a lot of areas in which I struggle, but romantic chemistry has got to rank as #1! Fortunately in MG it is rather platonic, but still... it must be authentic. You offer some great tips to help me flesh this out in my own WIP!

  12. My book is YA (high school seniors right now) and describing what my main character feels when she looks/touches/talks to the guy she likes is how I try to establish chemistry. Then, she may notice he blushes, or stammers, or stands close to her to establish the feeling is mutual. I try to work up to that inevitable kiss (or more). Sometimes, my MC will talk about how good looking one is; yes, she notices but doesn't care. Then, he will do something so out of character that she notices HIM and suddenly, he is more attractive to her. If that make sense!
    Good luck with the A to Z Blog!

  13. My main character is from a culture that practices unilateral marriage, so, uhm... he married her. Now, all he can do is wait, and hope she marries him back. Oh, and help her survive a capital trial and a popular uprising. That might help.

  14. Interesting theme! Made me think about many of the books I've read.

  15. There are many different ways to portray chemistry. I like the one you gave. :D

  16. Wonderful theme. Look forward to learning much from your posts.

    Damyanti, AZ cohost 2016

  17. Nice post. Good question, which I need to give more thought.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit

  18. Good post about chemistry. I wonder if it's possible for a male/female relationship to have chemistry, but not necessarily be attracted to one another.

    G. R. McNeese from
    Project Blacklight