This month, a couple long-running series I’ve been reading for ages, one of them since I was in my teens, are coming out with sequels! In both of them, I believe I’ll be getting to see them interact on-page with other family members for the first time. I am both fascinated and excited about seeing the family dynamics — things that have grown and shaped so much of the characters. I trust both authors to do these family members and their relationships justice, but I’m still nervous.
So, I decided to write down:
3 tips for writing character dynamics:
These are probably relevant for any sort of relationship — familial, romantic, friendships, or even mortal enemies.
1. Families are messy
The main character’s, their love interest’s, the villain’s, and everyone else’s families are messy. What’s that quote? Every family is imperfect in their own way. We all bring the baggage of our past, of our own personal history with us.
2. It’s easy to take the other character’s actions personally
People generally make decisions based on a pile of reasons, or at least, can back up their impulse decisions with all of those reasons, most of which have nothing to do with other people. Yet, on page or in real life, it can be easy to take another person’s actions as a response to you — as a personal affront, an attack, or a clear sign that they’re obsessed with you.
3. Dynamics can shift when the character is ‘off screen’
Just because two characters are absolutely smitten (or at war) with each other last time you saw them, doesn’t mean they’re going to be the same when you get back to them. It’s all part of the whole “you can’t go home again.” While you (or your characters) can usually go to the place that was home, things have usually changed: people and things have aged – sometimes for the better, and sometimes not.
Anyway. I was so excited about these books that still haven’t come out yet that I wrote a little poem while I was waiting. I hope you don’t mind something a little different from me.
I’m ready for a trip
To visit old friends
I count down the days
‘Til we meet up again
Our relationship stretches
Back through the years
We sometimes lose touch
But always catch up
We’ve been through so much
Through adventures galore
From the lowest of lows
To grand celebrations
When we meet up
I’ll be so keen to hear
What they’ve been up to
What they’ve now overcome
The time it draws near
I’m gonna curl up,
Flip open the pages,
The sequel is here.
What tips do you have for writing inter-character dynamics?
Are you reading any series you’d like to talk about?
There’s so much scope for misunderstanding and leading characters in different directions because of their thoughts and beliefs – I’ve always found this fascinating! Nice article
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Thanks for reading! I’m glad you found my thoughts helpful.