Keeping Relationships Consistent


On my current WIP novel, I am revising to make sure the character relationships are consistent. The main character has three main relationships in the story, with a friend and traveling companion, with her father and with the villain.

Among other things, a first reader pointed out some inconsistencies in these relationships. I agreed and decided to tackle this. The first thing I did was the re-read the manuscript and find the places where the main character interacts with each of the others.

It was actually fairly easy because each interaction had about three chapters each, at least in the first half of the novel that I am working on. I physically separated these into three stacks of paper and then marked them up. I was looking for emotional content, reactions to each other, all those small things that create a relationship. Surprisingly, these can be a small part of chapter/scene. You’ve got to have the action going along and the plot will take up a lot of space. There’s description and dialogue. Some of the emotional stuff is in all of this because you can and should color any of it with an attitude.

But surprisingly little of it directly reflects the relationship between these two characters.

Now, I just need to decide on what the relationship should be–actually the hardest part of all. For a father-daughter relationship, should the father be wishing for a son, instead of a daughter? Or does he support his daughter in all her hopes and dreams? Of course, we know what the perfect father would do. But this is fiction, which about dysfunctional families, and the ways in which relationships can get tangled up. Once I decide where it should go, then it will be easy to see where to revise.

Then, I just need to repeat it for the other two relationships.
For me, it is easier to gain consistency by pulling out chapters like this to look at a specific aspect of the story.

1 Comment
  • Shannon abercrombie
    August 6, 2013

    Loved this post. I always love hearing how other writers tackle manuscript issues. Good luck as you continue to revise.