Building Believable Chemistry: A Guide to Writing Compelling Romances – The Urban Writers

Building Believable Chemistry: A Guide to Writing Compelling Romances

Added: Romance Writing
by The Urban Writers

I read The Fault in Our Stars last week, and it left me in awe, like always. Every time I read that book, I cry my eyes out. Indeed, John Green deserves applause for coming up with such a fine piece of contemporary romance.

The greatest stories of all time have a romantic element. I mean, what's fiction without some romantic feel to it? But let's not fool anyone here. Building character chemistry and writing romantic connections are some of the most difficult things for authors.

It is not easy to get your audience to relate to the characters in your story and make them feel that rollercoaster of emotions. No wonder why so many writers refrain from writing hardcore romance.

If you are an emerging writer or someone who fantasizes about having a grasp on romantic fables, you have to master the art of developing chemistry.


Chemistry Is Everything 

Two characters live a circumstance together and end up falling in love. Everyone knows that's how all the romantic books work. But what makes some stories cry our eyes out while others leave us smiling? It's the basic chemistry between character A and character B!

It's the spark that breathes life into plain dialogues between two characters or three if you like complicated triangles (even four if you're bold enough to).


Watching "Chemistry" Is Different

Experiencing a spark between the two characters boosts the audience's feel-good hormones, leaving them obsessed with their favorite fictional duos.

However, feeling a spark between two characters on screen is different than reading it in a love story. Building character chemistry through words is comparatively difficult. There's a lot that an author has to take care of.

The characters have to be fully developed and interesting in their own capacities. But there has to be something special between them whenever they come together.

They interact through playful banters that gather energy, and the spark lights up. To intensify that, the author pushes them apart. The constant back-and-forth interaction stirs up nail-biting emotions in the readers.

In short, each character has a graph of its own, but the energy between them is so electric that it pulls the audience in to share that chemistry.

Developing Authentic Love Stories Requires Time

There are many techniques for compelling romances, but most novice writers follow the same old way. They put two characters together and force the most cliched conversation. Soon after, the characters end up falling in love and making out.

For sure, two characters can have an instant connection, but all of that is still too rushed. Besides, we don't have enough reasons to assume why these characters are attracted to one another. I mean, there's a reason why Disney discarded its 'instant love' plotline.

Misconceptions About Chemistry

Developing authentic love stories is more complicated than most of us imagine. After reading multiple love stories, I have created a list of concepts that a lot of authors misperceive as 'romance.'

Physical Attraction

As I said, many authors assume having their characters make out will add chemistry.

Physical attraction can be one of the aspects of a spark between two people, but it's not a standalone factor for a whole love story. A story where two people fall in love solely for physical attraction will always be weak. The reason is that such plots sound superficial and unenjoyable to read.

Opposites Attract

By this, I mean the conventional "bad boy meets girl-next-door" storyline. A good girl falls in love with a bad boy when she finds out about his tragic part. Suddenly, she starts seeing good things in his personality.

In my opinion, this is an incredibly cliche and shallow plot. Above all, it can be the beginning of a toxic relationship if it doesn't progress right.

Is empathizing with someone equivalent to being in love with them? But there are piles of books based on that idea, which is a reason solid enough to break this concept.

Sassy Dialogues

Mostly in contemporary romance, I have seen so many authors over-relying on sassy dialogues in the name of chemistry.

While such dialogues might not underscore chemistry independently, they work great with a combination of other factors.

If you're writing romance with a hint of wit, make sure to keep an eye on sass. Too much of it can sound cliche, forced, or even passive-aggressive to some people.

Writing Romance That Feels Real

I have come up with a list of suggestions and tips for aspiring authors to write romance in a way that feels real.

Electric First Encounters

No matter how you plan to introduce your characters to each other, the first encounter is a foundation for the whole story.

Whether they meet through a dating app or on a flight, there's got to be an element of spark and intrigue from the beginning. That way, you can eventually build on that chemistry and deepen the connection between your characters.

You can use any of these tips to add spark to the first encounter of your leads:

  • Humor can stir chemistry between your characters and some emotions in your readers.
  • The element of mystery and curiosity between the two characters will keep the readers hooked.
  • Internal monologues can help build some tension between the characters and keep the readers invested.

Add Relationship-Specific Details

Your readers are real humans with real emotions. Most of them have been in relationships or are in one. They would like to read stories that depict some aspects of real-life relationships. So, don't shy away from adding other emotions, like anger, sadness, guilt, etc., into your writing.

Moreover, you can also describe your characters in detail. The depth of detail depends on the genre. Your characters can be attracted to particular details about each other, like the sound of another's laugh, a beauty mark, a quirk, etc.

Think Outside the Box

Most writers focus on making it all rosy and beautiful while writing romantic connections. Attraction can be instant and mutual, but it has to go through the peaks and valleys as the relationship evolves.

Most of us are comfortable with certain types of scenarios and contexts. So, it's natural for your initial ideas to sound cliche. Such romances are groan-inducing and put the readers off.

Besides, sticking to the stereotypes makes your story unrelatable because it sounds unreal.

The tip is to keep brainstorming until something creative pops up in your head.

The Five Love Languages

Gary Chapman believes that there are five ways to express heartfelt commitment to your partner. In his 1992 book, he writes about them:

  • words of affirmation or kind things to make the other person feel appreciated and cared for
  • sending thoughtful gifts to assure them
  • acts of service or deeds that the other person might find thoughtful
  • physical touch, as basic as holding hands
  • spending quality time and showering them with attention and care

This framework might be simple and seem like a no-brainer, but it creates intense chemistry between two characters. For instance, you can picture a scene where two characters with similar interests end up buying the same surprise gifts for each other, marking the beginning of sweet chemistry between them.

Every Writer Is Different

Literature has seen several authors who wrote evergreen romances that we still read and appreciate today. Different authors have their own techniques for compelling romances. For instance:

  • Jane Austen in Pride and Prejudice built chemistry through clever and witty conversations between Mr. Darcy and Elizabeth. However, the true essence of an enduring romantic interest develops gradually while Darcy's character is unveiled.
  • In The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks uses the power of obstacles to highlight the love between Noah and Allie. He combines it with beautiful hints of nostalgia and heartfelt letters to build chemistry.
  • Diana Gabaldon uses a rather slow-burn approach to building character chemistry, especially in her Outlander series. In that book, she blends historical events with romance to brew a deepening connection between Claire and Jamie. The two characters evolve through shared hardships, and their chemistry evolves amidst historical conflicts.

Read multiple authors, experiment with different styles, and brainstorm a dozen ideas until you come up with something that crushes!

Final Words

Writing romantic connections and having your audience believe in them is all about creating a spark. Your story doesn’t have to be complicated for the readers to connect with your ideas.

Follow these simple tips and suggestions to create a spark between your characters. If you think you need help with that, The Urban Writers can do it for you. Check our writing packages that also offer an outline writing service for your creative pieces.


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