Welcome to the first post in my romance writing from A to Z series. To kick us off, I’m tackling something that every single romance or love story has to have – attraction. From Fifty Shades of Grey to Pride and Prejudice, there’s so many different levels of attraction that it’s hard to know which one suits the story you’re about to write. I’ve spent some time scouring the web for information and this is what I’ve come up with. I’ve even put it into a handy downloadable worksheet for you to workshop your characters’ attraction.
What is attraction?
For the purpose of this article, I’m talking about romantic attraction. That good ol’ feeling of being drawn to another person, needing to be with them.
What makes someone attracted to another?
- Similarity – We apparently go for those with similar genes to ourselves. It makes for easy development of offspring. Don’t believe me? Read this article.
- Symmetry – A person who’s face is symmetrical is appealing. I read that this stems from our body knowing that their cells can split exactly in half. Once again, easy for making perfect babies. (Not too sure how accurate these are)
- Status – Internal and external. Is someone more confident, do they make us laugh? Can they provide for you?
- Smell – From pheromones to something that triggers an emotional response, smell can play an important role in what you find attractive. Think about the smells you like and if these connect to something in your past.
- Sex appeal – Sometimes that raw animal sex appeal is what get’s you going. This can be different for everyone and subjective. Is it the way she licks her lips? Are her girly bits more girly? Is his jaw square, shoulders broad, brow prominent? Is he impeccably groomed well? Something will trigger that primal desire deep down inside. Read this for the 4 key elements of sex appeal, and read this to find out about the science behind the sex appeal of dark personalities (Why are narcissists more physically attractive?). This is a particularly interesting article if you write the classic dark, broody, Alpha male.
How to build attraction between two characters
To know how to get from A to B with your characters, you first need to understand the levels of attraction. I’ve read a few articles around the place about this subject and have come up with the following steps. For the sake of simplicity, I’m going with Girl and Boy, but this can easily be any gender.
- Girl sees Boy
- Girl likes what she sees – Physical attraction. This sparks lust. Primal instincts.
- Girl learns about the Boy – Does he have a great job? Do they have the same beliefs? Can he provide? Does his status appeal to her survival instincts?
- Girl connects with the Boy – Emotional connections are made. Does the Girl trust the Boy?
- Girl wants the same things as the Boy – Kids, marriage, little house on the beach with a yapping dog to share? Is their life headed down the same path?
- Girl falls in love with Boy
- Girl obsesses about the Boy – Okay, this is an extra step. This can happen instead of falling in love. Perhaps at stage 5, Boy realises he wants different things and Girl doesn’t accept … it turns into Fatal Attraction.
How can you make sure your reader finds your characters attractive?
Just because you might really like the sight of a bearded, tattooed guy with plugs in his ears doesn’t mean that your readers will. Yes, it’s nice to have something different, but you need to be weary that you aren’t excluding a large portion of your readership. The best thing to do in this instance, is to think about your sub genre and what your market looks like. Who is your ideal reader? If she happens to be a rockabilly-Sons-of-Anarchy-loving chick then go right for it. Make your fella look and behave the way you think your reader will like him to. But if you’re hoping to sell your book to fans of Nicholas Sparks … you might have to rethink your strategy.