5 reasons why you need CHEMISTRY between characters

Richard and I had an incredible chemistry together. We couldn’t get enough of each other – Elizabeth Taylor

Chemistry, not the physical science but the undeniable attraction between two people, is an incredible force. It is a connection that can’t be faked, bought or borrowed.

Chemistry goes deeper than physical attraction and is more complex than rapport. It pushes people outside the comfort zone and turns routine into an impulsive dream – anything but ordinary.

Chemistry messes with the head and makes the heart work harder. It can be a cocktail of infatuation and weakness that results in love and trouble. It doesn’t follow the rules or cares who gets hurt. It represents a recklessness that makes people unpredictable – and when you write about someone who is changeable and different, people want to read about them.

You need chemistry between characters to keep a reader interested.

Note: chemistry should never be confused with romance – it is not exclusive to love stories.

1. The laws of attraction and repulsion

  • Chemistry is turbulence. Shake up the equilibrium in your book and introduce characters who bring out the best (or worst) in someone else. You need turbulence to keep plot and pace lively.
  • Passion can result in attraction and repulsion that is prevalent in I-love-you-I-hate-you-I-love-you relationships. The rollercoaster relationship isn’t necessarily a sexual one – it exists whenever there is significant tension and an emotional struggle between two people. You need passion to create exciting dialogue.

2. The power of recklessness

  • Chemistry between characters brings an intensity to a scene. Imagine the most reckless situation you could put your character in. You need risk to create suspense.
  • What does your character learn from recklessness? You need change in order to reach a resolution otherwise you will never finish writing a book.

3. The unbreakable bond

  • Chemistry is an inexplicable bond between people. It is about two characters who will stick together no matter what. You need a bond so you can break it. This is when the story gets interesting.
  • You need a bond to test loyalties. How loyal is your character to those around her? You need to expose temptation and flaws to make someone real.

4. The significance of loss

  • Chemistry between characters builds them up but can also tear them down. What happens when you take one character out of the plot (temporary or permanently) – how much will one miss the other? You need loss to create a dramatic situation.
  • Passion, attraction and desire are illuminated in the absence of the significant other. You need to mess with emotions when you want to push a character to his limits.

5. The importance of alchemy

  • The Oxford English Dictionary traces the word “chemistry” back to “alchemy”, which alludes to an aura of mysticism and transformation. If alchemists can turn base metals into gold, you must take ordinary characters and make them unforgettable. You need to transform people to make them memorable.
  • Chemistry is magic between two characters; it is the marker of an intense relationship that exposes someone to love and loss. You need to create characters who struggle, learn and move on. The magic lies in the creation of someone the reader can relate to.


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