3 Tips for Character Relationships


3 Tips for Character Relationships

When writing a story or novel, you create character relationships. It begins with roles: mother, father, daughter, boss, teacher, etc. Usually this is a family role, a work-related role or a community role. But pushing past that, characters have feelings about other people.

Conflicting Attitudes: Do you know someone who aggravates you, even while you enjoy their company? Do you love your child/spouse/relative, while at the same time they grate on your nerves? When we create character relationships in a novel, we need to remember that people can both love and hate at the same time, often for the same reason.

NOW? In particular, how does the character feel about the others NOW? In this scene of the story, what emotions do the story’s events evoke and why? In this scene, we’re not worried about how things worked out last year, or even yesterday. Those are pre-story, the common background for the characters, but they aren’t the emotions for this scene.

Fight for Love. The relationship question usually down to one of love, in some degree. For example, a child might be fighting for a parent’s love and recognition; a teen girl wants a boy’s approval.

1920 Football Team in Australia

1920 Football Team in Australia

Or: A coach wants the fan’s love, but really, what he wants is for his son, the quarterback to be impressed with his dad’s coaching ability; and Coach wants his wife to finally understand his passion for football; and Coach wants his father, who was also a coach–a winning coach, to understand that there are many ways to coach football and his way is just as good as Dad’s, thus winning Dad’s love and approval. Wow, all that is the subtext for a simple after school football practice. We thought it was just about getting the kids in shape and making them run two miles after a two-hour practice. Oh, no. It’s always about relationship and creating a complex relationship.

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