When you’re novel has a romantic storyline, it’s really important to get that romantic chemistry right. So, how do we build that chemistry?
There should be some conflict between your main character and love interest. Conflict creates friction. And friction creates great chemistry.
First, consider an external point of conflict (this works especially well for enemies to lovers / forbidden love tropes). Do your characters come from warring kingdoms? Are they both trying to get hired for the same job? This external conflict will give them reason to butt heads as they both work against one another for an opposing goal.
But it’s good to think about an internal conflict as well. What is fundamentally different about your two characters? What personality trait is going to drive the other up the wall? Do they have opposing outlooks on life (think grumpy/sunshine trope)? Do they have different backgrounds? Is one loud and the other reserved?
So, your characters have lots of conflict between them. But if that’s all they have, they’re basically just enemies! How do we get them to the lovers stage?
Alongside that friction, your characters should be curious about each other. Think about a trait or outlook that you can give each character that will intrigue the other.
Perhaps your pessimistic character finds it super annoying how naive your positive character is, but they’re also kind of in awe of it. Perhaps your loud character doesn’t understand how your reserved character can keep so calm. Perhaps it makes them curious what will happen if they lose their temper.
So far, we’ve given our couple some opposing traits - but what do they have to bond over? What about them is the same? You need to give your characters something to connect over. If they can’t connect, then their relationship is going to feel contrived and superficial.
On an external level, you can create a scenario where the two have to work together by giving them a mutual enemy or goal.
But you’re going to want to think about an internal point of connection, too. When they start to get to know each other, what similar traits / outlooks / histories do they have?
Perhaps they are both afraid of, or yearn for, the same thing. Perhaps they both had a similar experience growing up. Perhaps they both have the same sense of humour, came from the same town, or share a similar goal.
Once you’ve thought about conflict, curiosity, and connection between your characters, they guaranteed to have some sizzling hot romantic chemistry!
How do you create chemistry between your characters? And do you have any writing questions you’d like answering in one of these newletters? Reply to this email and let me know!
LAUREN PALPHREYMAN is a writer based in London. She is the author of Cupid's Match, Devils Inc., and A Circus of Ink. She writes books full of magic and romance, and her serial fiction has accumulated over 70 million views online. Find her on Instagram @LaurenPalphreyman and on Twitter @LEPalphreyman.
Read Lauren's serialized novel The Wolf King on Radish Fiction. Perfect for fans of Outlander, Jennifer L Armentrout, and werewolves. Episodes release weekly.