Thursday, January 05, 2012

Last call for Free Stuff and Chemistry

Just a reminder I’ll be announcing the winner of the $20 Amazon gift card later today. And today’s comments still count so feel free to say anything that moves you. At the end of the day (that’s 5:00 pm est) I’ll put all the non DWT writer comments in a hat and draw. Good luck!

Now onto my thoughts for the day. I’m reading a book now where a reviewer made the comment that she liked both of the characters but didn’t necessarily buy them together. As I’m reading the book this does make sense to me. All the pieces are there but for some reason I’m just not getting that click. And I don’t know why.

As a writer of romance obviously I need to make sure the click happens. Naturally I’m starting to obsess about it. I tried to break it down analytically by reading different stories where for me the chemistry just leapt off the page.

An easy example - kicking it old school - I’ll use Nora Roberts. In her first “In Death” book Eve and Rourke meet and there it is. That magic moment when they are standing at the funeral and you realize he’s found the button off her drab grey suit. As a reader you just know these two want each other. It’s not overdone, it’s not obvious. It’s just there somehow on the page.

I went back and re-read the early chapters of my current WIP and yeah, I really feel this chemistry between my hero and heroine in spades. Somehow it’s just there. Yeah me!

But then I went back and read some of my other stuff and … yeah not so much. Boooo… I suck.

It’s not that the book sucks. The characters, their development, their growth… all that’s there. And yes you get to a point where you can feel the love between them – at least I hope. But that’s not the same thing as chemistry.

Chemistry is the click. It’s the thing that makes you look at a person and decide you want to take your clothes off in front of him. You can write words like lust, and tension, and desire. But for whatever reason sometimes that works and sometimes it just doesn’t. No click.

The editor in me – I obviously wasn’t able to see this flaw. I hope by having this new couple show me the way I’ll be able to recognize it going forward. But I don’t know. Can we ever see the click as we're writing our own stuff?

Is it the characters? Is it the writing? Is it the way we set the couple up? Who knows! What do you all think?


Molly O'Keefe said...

Chemistry is the click - I love that. And I so understand your point, sometimes it just happens and you don't have to force it - sometimes you have to wedge and twist and push forcing the click. I wonder if it's the hero? If anyone would feel the click with the hero it would be easy - like ryan Reynolds - anyone would feel that click, even if you don't want to - even if you don't LIKE him. Or Ryan gosling - they are clickety.

But take't think of anyone...but if it's a harder sell, it's a harder sell.

I ruined that point by not coming up with anyone...

Kwana said...

Great post. I know that feeling and have that problem with something I'm working on. I think I have too much chemistry between my heroine and a character that is NOT the hero. Big problem there. So obviously I did something wrong way back in the beginning that needs to be fixed.
Thanks for this.

Maureen McGowan said...

I was at a talk by Sherry Thomas a few years ago where she analyzed chemistry. I thought it was pretty awesome, although like usual, have no idea what I did with my notes.

What I liked about her analysis is that it wasn't all about sexual attraction. One thing I remember was her saying that making the characters intellectual equals or having them surprise each other was a way to build chemistry... A bunch of things like that that I hadn't explicitly thought of but made so much sense (and are fairly obvious in her books in hindsight).

Stephanie Doyle said...

Maureen - I was at that talk as well. And I really remember the "equal" line because it explained why I was reading completely failed.

I think about it when I do the opposite's attract thing. Yes she can be a virgin farm girl and he can be Player from Manhattan - as long as they are both equals on an intellectual level - that can work.

Stephanie Doyle said...

That should have been "a book I was reading..."

Wow - I am so off my game today.

Eileen said...

So I always try to think about how I felt the moment I started to find someone attractive. With different guys it's been different things. Sometimes it's a physical thing (hello, Ryan Reynolds, Molly!). But other times, it's something else entirely. A moment of kindness or humor or incisiveness.

Then I try to put it on the page. That's the tricky part, isn't it?

Molly O'Keefe said...

Wait a second I was at that talk too - and I remember there had to be intellectual connection, respect and suprise... or something like that...

Anonymous said...

That talk sounds so interesting. Wish I could have been there.

Struggling with the damn flu, so late on commenting, but great post Stephanie.
Breaking chemistry down is such a smart idea. I'd assumed it just happened by magic, but nothing in writing happens by magic.

Eileen said...

Feel better, Sinead! Being sick is the worst. I've had a nasty cold for a week and it's killing me.

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