Quality chemistry between two characters is paramount in making any relationship believable – be it romantic or platonic. Think about your favourite onscreen couples from books, TV, and movies. I’m sure a few key scenes spring to mind full of witty and biting banter, longing stares, and ultimately The Big Kiss.
All of these actions go a long way in building up the perfect chemistry, but perhaps the most underappreciated form of chemistry creation comes from the power of the near touch. When two characters are bought into each other’s personal space either by choice, emotion, or necessity, sometimes magic happens.
Last year we discussed sensory descriptions and looked closely at touch, but a lack of touch is just as potent. Just check out these examples:
No Reservations – About Tiramisu
No Reservations serves up a classic example of near touch temptations that helps build the romantic tension.
The Mortal Instruments – Clace
In The Mortal Instruments, Clary and Jace build up chemistry through near touch on a regular basis. But unlike TV and movie examples of near touch, Clary and Jace give a greater insight into character feelings and perspectives when they get close.
The Last Jedi – Hands
Rey and Kylo in The Last Jedi build tension throughout the film with their mental connection that culminates with their near-to-actual touch.
This scene helped sparked years of shipping from fans who had to wait four seasons for the two characters to get together. It took another eight seasons for them to ultimately become end-game.
Near Touch in your writing
It’s clear that keeping characters close in proximity builds a sudden palpable tension, so how can you weave it into your writing?
Accidentally-in-your-face: Whether a character trips, falls, or is thrown inches from the other, this is the best way to leave both of your characters perhaps a little flushed or taken aback.
I-just-can’t-help-myself: Sometimes an emotional outbreak could lead to your characters leaning into each other out of humour, hurt, or defiance, don’t let those moments pass you by.
It’s-completely-necessary-for-me-to-be-this-close-to-you: Maybe one of your characters is in a jam, their tied or caught to something, or maybe they’re just too close to that thinga-ma-bob that your MC needs. Either way, you can draw them close.
So next time you’re trying to increase the stakes and heart rates in your story don’t forget to push your characters close enough. Feel the tingles of fingertips not quite touching, eyes meeting, breaths prickling skin, and eyes dilating while roaming around each other’s faces.
How else can you involve the power of the near touch in your writing?