Full disclosure y’all: I got a B in Honors Chemistry, so my science is probably all wrong. But while I can’t tell you the difference between an ionic and a covalent bond, I do remember that certain chemicals uniquely neutralize others – just like characters.
Whether opposites attract or friends become lovers, characters ultimately have to complement and change one another. It may be a good girl reforming a bad boy, or a cowboy teaching a city slicker how to get down and dirty. Regardless of setting or trope, one chemical has to react to – and with – the other.
Personally, I like the combination of an acid and an alkali: a hot, fiery character (acid) who’s neutralized by one with cool head (alkali). Easily the best example I’ve written is in Love In Straight Sets, when hot-headed tennis champion Regan is totally tamed by her cool, calm and collected coach, Ben. In turn she re-energizes and reawakens him, proving that the chemical equation goes both ways.
What’s your favorite chemical combo when it comes to characters? Two acids burning super bright, an acid + alkali balance, or the soothing sound of two alkalis sloshing along together? Or is my chemistry so far off that none of the above are remotely correct?