Chemistry Between Characters

Anna’s Analysis

February 9, 2020

When writing a novel, there are many things to consider: the plot, character arcs and how to end the story without disappointing your readers. While these are all important aspects of a novel, they’re not everything. 

Good characters can make or break a novel. More specifically, the RELATIONSHIP between characters. 

Chemistry is necessary when writing characters. Unless your story occurs in an isolated desert (maybe it is!), then your character will be surrounded by other people. Like in real life, your character will be affected by people in both positive and negative ways, will be disregarded and be disgusted by others around them. 

Your character, however much you ignore it, will be affected by other people in your story. Does someone bump into them on the way to the grocery store? Your character might be upset, which might cause them to have a problematic day. 

Characters will be affected by some characters more than others. When two characters affect each other in a BIG way, this is called chemistry. 

Chemistry is built when characters are affected by each other, or affected by the same event – ie. your characters both witness a school shooting. This can happen in a variety of different ways, and in many different circumstances. 

For example, if your characters have to fight for survival in a particular instant, they might form a relationship, perhaps in the form of an alliance. Think about The Hunger Games. Peeta and Katniss formed a bond through being selected for the tournament. They rely on each other because they’re the only people who understand what they are going through in that instance. 

This is only one method of creating chemistry between characters, though. 

Chemistry can be created by contrasting characters. This can be seen in friendships and relationships where the differing personalities of the characters compliment each other. By having opposite personalities, it is also possible to create tension between characters, which can aid in furthering the plot. 

Give your characters a shared purpose. Do they need to survive? Find shelter? Seek answers? By having a similar interest/ambition, your characters will need to work with each other and rely on each other to achieve that goal. This can be particularly effective if characters do not know each other at the beginning of the story. It can also work well if you’re writing an ‘enemies to lovers’ trope. 

Think about your favourite stories. How do they achieve chemistry between their characters?

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