Welcome to Writing Pearls Chelsey Krause. We are glad to have her with us today.
More than Just Banging: How to Build A Really Strong Love Connection Between Characters
By Chelsey Krause
Question from Writing Pearls Blog:
So I was thinking your love interests built a really strong connection in your book All Shook Up. Could you talk about that process? Building a love connection between characters?
Thank you! What a fun question to delve into. “All Shook Up” was released this August, and I’ve noticed that readers often comment on what great friends Natalie and Casey are. I love the friends to lovers theme; some of my favorite books ever (like “A Girl Like You” by Gemma Burgess or “The Rosie Project” by Graeme Simsion) have similar themes.
My brain works think in formulas and breaking processes down into steps. So, the best way I can answer your question is to break it down into categories / steps. I’ve broken it down into “Friendship First” and “Sex Second.”
For me, building a strong love connection between characters begins by building friendship. But how did I do that, exactly?
- Give Them a Common Goal:
Give your characters a project that they work on together. The thing that initially brings Natalie and Casey together is finding Natalie’s birth mother. There are smaller goals along the way. For example, Natalie feels overwhelmed with hosting an over the top dinner party, and Casey steps in and helps her clean up the beet massacre (btw, that scene is based on something that really happened to me, and was SO fun to write).
- Contrast Their Personalities:
Casey’s flirty, scalawag personality contrasts and highlights Natalie’s more grounded, serious qualities. The scene where they impersonate police officer comes to mind.
- Lots of Humor:
I love books that make me laugh, and I purposefully made sure that Casey and Natalie share a lot of funny, awkward moments. Humor is a natural friendship builder. People generally want to be around others who make them feel good, who can make them laugh. This ties in with the point above. Contrasting personalities naturally leads to humor, as it creates tension, and humor is largely based on tension.
- Spend Lots of Time Together
When you are best friends with someone, you want to spend a lot of time together. Sometimes it’s exciting (ex. going out dancing, running for your life) and other times it’s more mundane, like watching tv together. Scenes like this allow characters to develop inside jokes & shared experiences, to bond over mutual interests, etc.
- Emotional Intimacy
Natalie and Casey build emotional intimacy by complimenting each other often (ex. you look nice, I like you, etc), being willing to talk to each other about the deep stuff, the things that hurt, the things that keep you awake at night.
My favorite romances are the ones that slowly build sexual tension throughout the entire story. It’s a gratifying slow burn, one that makes you root for the characters to be together and just DO IT ALREADY! (And cue my hilarious outburst of laughter)
- The Slow Burn
To achieve this, intersperse friendship scenes with hints of chemistry, small flashes of attraction that grew more and more obvious over time.
- Use All of the Senses
Like anything in writing, scenes are enhanced by describing what the character sees, tastes, touches, smells. How does it feel when his hand brushes up against yours? How does he look when he’s al dressed up? How does it feel to taste his kiss? Etc.
- Describe what your character thinks and feels.
Does her heart flutter when he walks by? Does she dream about him? Does she feel confused by her emotions?
- Build Tension
Writing is all about tension. Tension to build humor, conflict, sexual attraction, etc. You can build sexual tension into your story in a number of ways. They can become more and more physically involved over time. They kiss, and are interrupted by someone. Just before she reveals how she feels about him, he announces that he has a new girlfriend. There are all sorts of ways to do this. In “All Shook Up,” Natalie is very attracted to Casey, but the tension and conflict come from her belief that he isn’t capable of commitment.
So that’s about it! Thank you Writing Pearls Blog for your great question, and for allowing this guest post. I hope you enjoyed this little explanation and insight into my writer brain.
I love hearing from readers, especially if you’re a writer and want to talk about the process of writing. I’m happy to help answer questions! Feel free to message me anytime.