Make new friends, but keep the old! One is silver & the other gold! A circle is round, it has no end. That's how long I want to be your friend!

Longest blog title ever, right? Old Girl Scout campfire songs FTW!

Y'all, I need your help. I'm working on two projects right now. Both of which I'm very excited about! One of which I've run into a little problem with! So this project is super new to me, and unlike anything I've ever written. The characters are THERE and I love them, and they're talking to me! But they're not talking to each other. Womp, womp. That's right you heard me. I'm having some chemistry issues. And I've actually narrowed down the problem. (Pardon me while I toot my own horn for a sec.) I am really, really good at creating chemistry between characters who have history together. Characters who grew up together, are related, used to date, ex-bestfriends, etc. But I'm starting to notice that  creating chemistry between two characters who are meeting for the first time doesn't come as easily to me. Previously this hasn't been an issue because I really love stories about people with deep-seated pasts together. But that's not the case with this WIP.

So, this is my question: How do you, personally, create natural chemistry (romantic and platonic) that feels organic and easy between two characters who have just met? And furthermore, do you have any reading recommendations that you think shows a good example of this? I'm not talking insta-love... and I'm not too interested in anything paranormal/fantasy--at least not in this case--unless it's just a must-read.

Please, please leave your two cents in the comment box. I could really use some feedback and I know y'all won't fail me! Whether you're an NYT bestselling author, or just dabbling in writing, I would love to hear your input. And because you're such a pal, I'd appreciate it if you passed this on to others. RT the hell out of it. The more input the better.


  1. Hey Julie!

    How do you, personally, create natural chemistry (romantic and platonic) that feels organic and easy between two characters who have just met?

    I like dramatic irony, and I also love it people working/talking at cross-purposes, or the surprise that happens when one character thinks one thing about a character, but discovers another.

    For example, what if two characters are complimentary in nature, but fate puts them at odds, at cross purposes. Ah, the angst. The inner tension when we have to work against/spar with/fight someone we need/like/admire...

    Sometimes the main character thinks the other person is insufferable and can't stand him--but then she finds out he's a mirror, a reflection of her own nature. Or maybe it's the opposite. Maybe the chemistry comes when she finds out he's opposite and is strong where she's weak. It's hard to admit we are weak in an area where someone else excels. Again. Angst. Inner turmoil.

    I also like it when a main character is just so darn sure she's got someone figured out, and they turn out to be more complex or completely different. This is another thing to exploit. Ah, dramatic irony is so satisfying. Sometimes, the reader can see the plain truth about someone, but the actual character is just plain blind.

    And furthermore, do you have any reading recommendations that you think shows a good example of this?

    You know who is awesome with chemistry between strangers? Jane Austen. Look at how Mr. Darcy and Ms. Bennet are always at odd. Every scene between them crackles.

    For a contemporary read, I really like Holly Black, especially her Curse Workers series. She is great with pitting characters at odds, and keeping tension even between friends. So good.

    Hope that helps!

  2. To me, some sort of common interest helps. I just met someone a couple of weeks ago who I am going to actually start co-writing a YA novel with...and we just clicked. It started with my love for something of his (his current MS). That's always a good place to start. "Oh I love his jacket." "I love the way he smiles." SOMETHING. Then the chemistry just snowballed over the similarity of our ideas/likes. "You love Dr. Pepper, too?!" "Yeah, I also love thinking about how we are specks in the universe." Then there's humor. If someone "gets" my humor, it's all good. So that's basically it for me. It sounds simple, but that's all it takes for me, anyway. : )

  3. My characters' chemistry are usually patterned after the way I met my hubby; which is to say, I was like, "hey, hot guy there." And he was ignoring everyone, looking bored as hell (it was at a work meeting, where he was the new manager). Everyone else thought he was a jerk (at first). But then, he smiled a little at me. That's when I knew he was the guy for me (this was in college). So the guy who looks like he could be a jerk can be quite attractive if he then catches the girl's eye for just a second. Excuse me while I go kiss my guy now...lol!

  4. I feel like it's important to have characters that you've honestly created to start with. Whenever I read characters that feel pushed in one direction or another, it never makes for good chemistry, you know? Beyond that, I agree with Holly--a common interest helps, or sharing an unexpected experience together.

  5. I like when characters have preconceptions about each other and they get turned on their head...First impressions that rarely turn out to be true.

    Read GRAFFITI MOON...it's short and the chemistry is fantastic between two characters who have no history.

    Also, I think humor, eye-gazing, action (one character watches another play the guitar at open-mic night, etc.) are all good things to play around with.

  6. Focus on a habit or personality tick that the other character either finds irritating. make that the focus each time they meet, slowly of course the way he always meticulously unwraps the gum becomes adorable and is the thing she misses the most when she ditches him for the other guy...or something like that.

    Good luck. Love this post.

    1. Oh that's good! I'm going to keep that in mind, Bethany! :)

  7. Julie, I love, love, love your site! So...on that chemistry thing, I think what we are really attracted to (whether in romance or friendship) is either a) someone who is totally in tune with us, who "gets" us immediately, with whom we can finish each others sentences even though we just met, or b) when we detect a trait in the other that we wish we had - witty, confident, calm or outgoing. You can show this through the character's initial thoughts or interactions. Then, you can play it either way - show the character immediately gravitating toward that person or you can show them resisting at first (creating internal conflict which is interesting and builds the tension) until they finally give way and become open to the relationship. Good luck! Peggy 4chicks.wordpress.com

  8. How did I not see this earlier? So here's what works for me...First off, when I'm trying to get a feel for my characters, I like to imagine how they might argue (in lots of different situations--with their parents, teacher, best friend, etc.) You have to admit, the way a person fights is revealing; and who a person chooses to fight with speaks volumes. I mean, if you truly don't like someone, do you even waste your time, or is it just a mental eff you? So, naturally, I next imagine my characters in an argument with each other. Even though it starts off as a writing exercise, most of those scenes make their way into the manuscript. Even if I don't want to use the scene, it helps to get to know the characters a little. That's just my approach. Take it with a grain of salt if it doesn't work for you!

  9. Y'ALL! Thank you so stinking much! Let's do this again next time I get stuck, ok?

  10. Absolutely, Julie! On another note, I hope you don't mind but I nominated your blog for the Kreativ Blogger Award. It (your blog) is so darn cute! Here's my post: http://4chicks.wordpress.com/2012/05/29/kreativ-blogger-award/