The Importance of Chemistry, by Associate Editor Pippa Roscoe
There are fourteen yeses when Sally fakes her orgasm to HarryI counted. Twice. (Much to the IT department's embarrassment.) All in the name of research I assure you! It's probably one of the most memorable film moments in romantic comedy history, and if you haven't seen it, do check it out. * Not only has it been parodied many times ( the fake laugh in The Big Bang Theory, Katharine Heigl in The Ugly Truth, how to fake a sneeze in The Muppets!), but it also highlights the importance of chemistry between a hero and heroine.
In a romance, the attraction between the hero and heroine is obvious, right? Both characters are undeniably gorgeous and clearly attracted to each other! It seems simple. But chemistry is very easy to take for granted, and not always that easy to get right.
Chemistry is the glue that brings your hero and heroine together even when they think they hate each othereven when they've been badly hurt by each other. Chemistry is a physical sensation, the tangible manifestation of love that hasn't yet been realised. But like all things in category romance, chemistry has a time and place.
Chemistry between your hero and heroine is like a flame. If you peak too early with the attraction between the hero and heroine, then there is very little room to make it burn brighter and higher in the rest of your story. Attraction on the page too early is a little like a forest fire. It'll burn quickly and leave you with nothing but ash. It needs to be cultivated from a flame and built, drawing your reader along with it, so that you can reach dizzying heights later on in the manuscript.
Also, you don't want the hero lusting after the heroine after she's just made an emotional confession. It's just pervy! “Chemistry” then is like a high-voltage-torch shining into the reader's eyes at night, making her blink.
But just as chemistry has a time and place, the hero and heroine won't have that chemistry unless their emotions are engaged. We are often attracted to the aspects we admire in a particular person, or that we actually want to have ourselves. If a heroine is feeling vulnerable, she will be attracted to power. If a hero has buried his softer side, it is the heroine's ability to emotionally relate that he will desire. These emotions must be engaged along with physical attraction to bring power to the chemistry between your characters.
We all know the heady feeling before that first kiss, the pulse pounding in your ears, the almost nauseous desperation, the illicit thrill, the impossible thirst for the one thing that sets your skin on fire and your heart alight. Reliving that same moment in romances is part of the reason we love to read them.
As you move put the finishing touches on your manuscript for SYTYCW, remember: you want your readers to feel all the same things that your characters do, so start your fire with the right kind of wood: time, place, development and emotions.
Good luck and good writing!
*Please let me clarify. Your heroine should never need to fake an orgasm with your hero!