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  1. Roux
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    Roux Member

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    Chemistry Between Characters

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Roux, Jun 1, 2011.

    So we've all seen a movie one time or another where the actors were just terrible and had no chemistry in their relationships with eachother. My question is have you ever read a book where characters just don't seem to click together, and any love story between them is silly and you find yourself laughing rather than awwing?
    The reason I ask this is because I am trying for my first time to write a loveish story, but I'm worried, since I've never actually been in love myself, it will just come across all teenish and dumb where the characters don't really have a deep emotional feel for one another. Any tips for a novice writer on writing successful chemistry between characters?
    Thanks :)
     
  2. carsun1000
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    carsun1000 Active Member

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    A lot of writers draw inspiration from personal experience. Like my current work has a pregnant detective in it because my wife is currently pregnant. I transfer things my wife does to my character. I get the best description for the detective because i can see and feel what happens on a daily basis.
    It should be like that for you. You must have an idea about a particular topic before embarking on it.
    I can't advise you to go fall in love first before writing a love story but I am sure you can watch people who are in love around you and that could be your source of inspiration. Just my two cents
     
  3. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Are you sure you haven't at least felt a certain deeper emotion for another individual? I'm not doubting you, I just find it a little unusual. Maybe not even "in love", at least a crush or something :p

    Then again, I shouldn't talk. I don't do falling in love. I do falters.

    From what I know, there are the common signs of sweaty palms, a pounding heart, the inability to think straight, etc. You really want to impress the one you like and so you try not to falter around them and you try to look at least remotely interesting.

    I know a few people that just ignore their love-interest, but I don't think that'll do well for your book.

    I suggest you read more romance novels. But, please, for the love of all that is good, don't lose yourself in description. I've read one too many books with romance themes where the main character just GUSHES about how beautiful their crush/boyfriend/husband is. It drives me mad and it's typical.

    Welcome, by the way!
     
  4. Gigi_GNR
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    Gigi_GNR Guys, come on. WAFFLE-O. Contributor

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    I remember in 'This World We Live In' by Susan Beth Pfeffer, the two protagonists of the previous books met and agreed to get married, but it was so horribly done. They had no chemistry and it was a marriage of circumstance rather than anything else. Disappointed me too, because the previous two books were amazing.
     
  5. Gothic Vampire Queen
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    Gothic Vampire Queen Member

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    Do you mind if I ask how old you are?
     
  6. cruciFICTION
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    cruciFICTION Contributing Member Contributor

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    How is that relevant?

    @the OP: I've never read a WHOLE book like that. I usually stop if it's that bad. I avoid bad novels like rape. I also can't remember any of the names of the ones I avoided.
     
  7. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    Wow, that's a difficult one writing about love, when you've never been in love.

    Well write the characters as best of friends - the same sort of chemistry - and maybe grow from there.

    I'd be inclined to say start writing about someone who has never been in love, who is trying to find out what that means, and then write a personal tale of discovery.

    See, I suppose in a way, if you've never been in love, it's difficult to imagine the irrationalities that it invloves. It's a state that is not logical, and characters will do stupid things for love. I mean just take a look at Romeo and Juliet. That was a bonkers love story.
     
  8. Melzaar the Almighty
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    Melzaar the Almighty Contributing Member Contributor

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    As long as they're in a ton of scenes together and get on well it should be okay. I was just looking through my facebook photos at me and my boyfriend, who I've known over a year but only been together with a couple of weeks. I never realised I liked him/he liked me, but in the photos we're all over each other, hugging and fighting, him giving me piggy back rides, me attacking him with drum sticks... And I'm remembering all the random times he showed up in town and we hung out even though I'm anti social as anything. :p Basically it was just having fun as friends, accidentally doing things you'd do on a date, and then at some point in the last couple of months I found myself gormlessly staring at his photo thinking, "Oh crap, he is really pretty..."

    Which, actually, is how I wrote all my romances before it happened to me. :p Accidental denial, with lots of paying each other far more attention than anyone else in the room, before a moment of realisation - often suggested by someone else or other circumstances, such as unexpected jealousy over a third wheel romance character (I know it's normally "fifth wheel" but that sounds a bit rude so let's pretend it's a bike :p). Then there was the awkward stage of letting the characters figure it out, so scenes where they were wondering what absolutely every move the other made was about ("No, I really was just going to make tea... Stop looking at me like that!")

    So, basically, all you need is a lot of scenes together, like I said to begin with. :p

    In my teenagey fantasy series I've got several romances running as subplots, and the main one is quite believable (the others aren't and are not meant to be). The two characters met within five chapters of the first novel and didn't get along that awesome but were forced together by circumstance (one of them had to pretend to like the other, and she had no choice but to go along with it). By the second book time has passed and it's just assumed that despite one of the girls being new to the group they're really close friends, and it's revealed there's a one-sided crush going on, so the main character does a lot of stupid things. Then in the third book I step out of their viewpoint, and a third main character occassionally watches them blush at each other, presenting them as now both acting out of character around each other. I got several more books to go before I'm going to let them actually get together - next comes the jealousy stage. Mwa ha ha :D Basically, I don't think anyone will be thinking they've not got convincing chemistry after all the time they've spent together, and the different viewpoints and stages of getting-there chemistry I've shown them from.
     
  9. wallomrslug
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    wallomrslug Member

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    Yes I have...my own. I struggled on a past project to develop any chemistry between two of my characters and for a long time I didn't understand why.

    Now I know that it was a combination of using embarassing cliches, trying too hard to force the 'love' down readers' throats and not drawing enough on personal experiences. The characters were quite alien in me because I had never experienced the emotion I was trying to convey...and if my characters are alien to me, they will be even more alien to the reader.

    I'm not saying stop writing about people are in love as I don't genuinely believe you have never felt very strongly for someone before. Even if you had no success with the person or even if you weren't in any kind of relationship with them, you must've felt something like lust, infatuation or a crush for somebody. Think about how you felt with this person and try and draw from that.

    Also, like someone else touched upon, explore a friendship of your own. Close friends aren't that far different from being in love...in fact it's just a different form of love. It's still someone you care deeply for, someone you would do almost anything for and someone who if something bad happened to them, it would really affect you.

    People who are in love tend to be eachothers' best friends too. So if you have had a best friend, you should find some valuable experience in there too. If all else fails, ensure you have read a good deal and a wide variety of books in the romance genre. How do other author's do it? Don't blatantly copy anyone's style, obviously, but you can certainly take some inspiration.
     
  10. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As some people have suggested, looking into your actual friendships - even if they don't have any hint of romance in them - is a good place to start. Most likely, you and your friends already have some kind of chemistry and bond with each other, so try to figure out how you guys show that bond, or how that bond developed in the first place.

    Another thing to remember, however, is that having a wonderful relationship is just one thing you have to worry about. You actually also have to worry about whether the reader will be interested in such a relationship in the first place. You may have two characters who are so perfectly suited for each other with the deepest emotional bond and so on and so forth, but if you don't present it in an interesting way, readers won't give a damn.

    Thus, another element of "chemistry" in fiction, I think, is having the characters interact in a way that interests the reader. There are, of course, tons of ways to do this. Stereotypically, stories might have the two characters hate each other or not care about each other at first but slowly learn to trust and care for each other - while it's stereotypical, if you give your characters good motivations and reasons for doing what they do and not rely on the cliches so much, it can come off as pretty engrossing and dramatic, seeing the ups and downs of their growing relationship.

    Likewise, the characters probably should be reasonably interesting people to begin with, or, maybe more so, that they are more interesting with each other. I'll give an example from an anime I watched ages ago (but it can apply to any story, really): the main male character was a kind of stoic, serious, ambitious guy. The main female character was wild (or, well, at least she pretends to be), dramatic at times, and a bit of a troll. By themselves, the two characters wouldn't have really worked well; the guy would have been pretty boring, and the girl would have been kind of too much, even annoying. But together, the two worked real well, bouncing off each other's personalities: she would do something weird or crazy, he'll react with his "wtf facepalm" sort of response, she'll try to egg him on, he'll try to resist... It works, and that's why the characters were interesting, at least to me; it's almost like they were slightly different people when they were around each other. Another thing that also made them interesting was that they had relatively common goals or desires. On the "deeper" level, both were lonely - he's a traveling merchant, she's some centuries old goddess whose seen tons of things live and die - so coming together was a way for them to deal with their loneliness; on a more literal level, they're both pretty manipulative and cunning, relying on these to - together - outsmart their enemies (and even allies... and each other), often in the context of the financial hassles they get into.

    I think it's that last thing - some kind of shared goal, interest, background, whatever - that will probably create the best chemistry. People are a lot more willing to hang around each other if they have some common ground they can work from. Maybe the couple both love watching sappy French movies. Maybe they both love blood and gore. Maybe they both wish to become teachers. Maybe they both lived through the great war that happened 13 years ago. Things like this, at the least, will give them something to talk about, maybe argue about, and that's always a good starting point.
     
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  11. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    As some people have suggested, looking into your actual friendships - even if they don't have any hint of romance in them - is a good place to start. Most likely, you and your friends already have some kind of chemistry and bond with each other, so try to figure out how you guys show that bond, or how that bond developed in the first place.

    Another thing to remember, however, is that having a wonderful relationship is just one thing you have to worry about. You actually also have to worry about whether the reader will be interested in such a relationship in the first place. You may have two characters who are so perfectly suited for each other with the deepest emotional bond and so on and so forth, but if you don't present it in an interesting way, readers won't give a damn.

    Thus, another element of "chemistry" in fiction, I think, is having the characters interact in a way that interests the reader. There are, of course, tons of ways to do this. Stereotypically, stories might have the two characters hate each other or not care about each other at first but slowly learn to trust and care for each other - while it's stereotypical, if you give your characters good motivations and reasons for doing what they do and not rely on the cliches so much, it can come off as pretty engrossing and dramatic, seeing the ups and downs of their growing relationship.

    Likewise, the characters probably should be reasonably interesting people to begin with, or, maybe more so, that they are more interesting with each other. I'll give an example from an anime I watched ages ago (but it can apply to any story, really): the main male character was a kind of stoic, serious, ambitious guy. The main female character was wild (or, well, at least she pretends to be), dramatic at times, and a bit of a troll. By themselves, the two characters wouldn't have really worked well; the guy would have been pretty boring, and the girl would have been kind of too much, even annoying. But together, the two worked real well, bouncing off each other's personalities: she would do something weird or crazy, he'll react with his "wtf facepalm" sort of response, she'll try to egg him on, he'll try to resist... It works, and that's why the characters were interesting, at least to me; it's almost like they were slightly different people when they were around each other. Another thing that also made them interesting was that they had relatively common goals or desires. On the "deeper" level, both were lonely - he's a traveling merchant, she's some centuries old goddess whose seen tons of things live and die - so coming together was a way for them to deal with their loneliness; on a more literal level, they're both pretty manipulative and cunning, relying on these to - together - outsmart their enemies (and even allies... and each other), often in the context of the financial hassles they get into.

    I think it's that last thing - some kind of shared goal, interest, background, whatever - that will probably create the best chemistry. People are a lot more willing to hang around each other if they have some common ground they can work from. Maybe the couple both love watching sappy French movies. Maybe they both love blood and gore. Maybe they both wish to become teachers. Maybe they both lived through the great war that happened 13 years ago. Things like this, at the least, will give them something to talk about, maybe argue about, and that's always a good starting point.
     
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  12. darkhaloangel
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    darkhaloangel Active Member

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    cybrxkhan makes some really good points.

    In fiction sometimes characters fall in love where else where they would not. Everyone loves to read about a bad guy, but in the end we wouldn't really want to date one.

    (This statement may be sexual orientation bias)
     
  13. Daydream
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    Daydream Contributing Member Contributor

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    Wow...the way you asked this is so patronizing. I hope you didn't mean it in that way.

    I think a good way that alot of books and tv shows create chemistry between characters is how at first they seem to hate eachother, but then suddenly realise they may have alot in common. Usually ending with them falling in love with eachother. It's a cliche way to do it, but a very effective way.
     
  14. JPGriffin
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    JPGriffin Senior Member

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    What cybrxkhan is talking about with the anime example is a sort of Dramatic Foil. When two characters have completely opposite personalities, whether they be friends, sworn enemies, lovers, et cetera, they are basically designed to bring out the personalities in the other character. While this may be downplaying the ideas of deep characters, this can definately be incorporated into a character's background. I'd say build up the different views, but keep a strong but hidden link between characters. You'll find that the characters will interact in very interesting ways between them. But, like cybrxkhan said, don't make it too cliched. Keep it interesting, and remember, not everything has to be explained. Half of a book, story, poem, and so on, is the reader. Leave it to them to react to the friendship.

    I'm still a bit rusty on the rules for quoting books and such, so please excuse me if I make any mistakes. One book I read recently that uses this idea wonderfully is The Dark Griffin by K.J. Taylor. It's not too well-known amongst my friends, but the whole basic gist of the plotline is how a rogue griffin kills a man's beloved partner griffin. The griffin was the only way that the man had any authority in his town, because his bloodline gives him the title of a slave at birth. So, as we see him fall from power, he finds that his only hope of surviving and getting revenge on who was truly responsible for his partner's death is the very creature who killed her.

    This plays in for some good irony and just this idea made me read on and on and on and... well, you know the rest. Anyways, an interesting relationship will make or break a book, and in most cases, that's what will drive the plot. Keep it interesting, original, and, if all else fails, ironic, and the rest will fall into place.
     
  15. Roux
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    Roux Member

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    I'm 14 hahah, yes im a youngin. Which supports the fact about never being in love lol. :)

    Yes I have obviously had crushes/boyfriends/romance, but like I said it wasn't what I would call real love, the kind of love where you would do anything for that person, be anything, etc. etc. I personally hate it in novels when characters act like teenagers, especially when they're older. A good example of what drives me insane is none other than (you probably guessed it) Twilight. Sure, they're teens, but come one? If she's THAT in love with him would she be a ditsy idiot all the time? They just act so infatuated with each other all the time, kind of like us teens and it's annoying to me.

    Btw: Thanks to everyone for the comments, I find them helpful. I'm starting to figure out how to write this novel the way I imagined it, without making it cheesy and a dumb romance. Thanks again everyone!! :)
     
  16. Islander
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    Islander Contributing Member Contributor

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    Aha, I don't think many people have actually experienced that kind of love. It's not a myth, since it exists in real life, but fiction makes it seem much, much more common than it is.

    I think the I'd-die-for-you type of love IS juvenile and makes the characters seem like teenagers.

    It sounds to me like your experiences should make you perfectly capable of writing about normal, realistic love.
     
  17. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    I actually wrote a huge post based on this claim. Since I'm feeling super lazy to try and reiterate what took me about an hour to write, I'll just make it really short.

    Bella is not exactly in love with Edward. When one mentions "falling in love", he or she is referring to compassionate love or "true love", where someone will see their partner as a friend and a lover.

    What Bella is going through is something called "passionate love" where one feels that he or she cannot live without their "other half". This isn't called falling in love, this is called being completely and blindly infatuated with another individual to the point of obsession.

    Bella (and Edward, in some respects) has all the symptoms of passionate love. She's clingy, she sees no flaw in Edward, and she ditches all her tentative outside relationships for him and his family. Keep in mind that passionate love is very sudden. The passion is sudden and, as quickly as it comes, it fades out. This is not the type of love you would want to write about in your story because passionate love only lasts for 6-12 months before it leaves.

    "True love", on the other hand, is gradual and stems from friendship. It is also guaranteed to be long-lasting. I'd like to think that this makes up a great portion of good romantic drama (don't take my word for it- I don't generally read romances, but I'll see the occasional romantic side plot and they are usually based on this).

    [/psychology rant]
     
  18. Roux
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    Roux Member

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    ^Thanks. That post actually helps alot. :) and I see your point.
     
  19. Quezacotl
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    Quezacotl Contributing Member

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    In order to create a strong chemical bond - or a relationship - between two elements - or characters - both must be willing to compromise electrons - or must be able to compromise time, goals, and quirks. For a single bond - a simple, friendly relationship - both elements must be able to agree on sharing electrons. For a double bond - a complex, friendly relationship - more electrons must be shared. For a tripe bond - love - the elements must be willing to share all the electrons they have. The two elements can be halogens as well - people who share the same exact interests and have the same quirks - and their bond can be quite strong.

    Unlike Chemistry, however, it is far more likely that people will progress through these relationships. It is rarely instantaneous, and when it is, it is a bond which requires little effort to break.

    Yes, science must be brought into this. It makes a great metaphor.
     
  20. Cogito
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    Cogito Former Mod, Retired Supporter Contributor

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    I like it, as a former chemist. But I must say, the bonds between people are far more complicated than any molecular orbital. Perfect overlap and merge of the atomic orbitals is nothing like the complex attrractive and repulsive forces that comprise interpersonal bonds. Too close a match between people leads to a bond that is more stagnant than stable.
     
  21. Kio
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    Kio Contributing Member

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    Maybe to a scientist. But since this writer is writing a romance that is targeted at (I believe) her age group, that's more of a buzz kill. I doubt teenagers would want to read a romance novel where molecules and atoms are brought into the narrative :p

    I do my best.
     
  22. thewordsmith
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    thewordsmith Contributing Member Contributor

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    Actually, I can see the validity of that question on several levels. And it is not condescending at all. (And I certainly hope Goth Queen did not intended it that way.)

    If you are talking about a fourteen year old writing a romance/'love-ish' story about fourteen year old romance, the parameters would be quite different than if the author were, say ... forty years old and never been in love, or close to it and trying to write a romance/love-ish story.

    The concept of love for each of these prospective authors is quite different. What the average 14 yo percieves as love and what an 'experienced' adult perceives as love and what an adolescent 40 year old frat boy who never grew up and what the '40 yo virgin' who has never felt or experienced love are quite widely divergent.

    It's not all about age and experiential perceptions but those things do play a large part in the game of love.
     
  23. cybrxkhan
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    cybrxkhan Contributing Member

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    To add, personal experience(s) also will probably be either your greatest asset or your greatest obstacle when dealing with romantic relationships in stories (and most things in storytelling, for that matter). A person who has gotten rejected tons and tons of time will probably have the course of a romance go differently than a person who's been together with their one true soulmate for much of their life since they were kids or something.

    This is why I think it's important that if you are, for whatever reason, "limited" in your romantic experiences, that you also draw on from other relationships, probably your friendships (esp. with the opposite gender (assuming that the romance in the story isn't homosexual)), to get something of an idea about how a relationship might play out.
     
  24. Roux
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    Roux Member

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    Actually, I try to be more of a mature writer. I write for an older audience, not teenagers, and my characters are in their late twenties and married(which obviously I've never been married lol). The specific plot of my novel keeps them from being together without the husband putting the wife in danger. The love story is actually a sub-plot but still a very important factor to the story progression. And since it's so imporant I wanted to have the reader feel the real feeling in their trials and actually care about the relationship between them. Lol, thanks again everyone :)
     
  25. Vamp_fan22
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    Vamp_fan22 Senior Member

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    My advice is make sure that the two characters have something in common but not everything. Opposites attract. And I'm sorry if this wasn't very helpful but it was all I could think of.:redface:
     

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