Hi all! Welcome to another edition of Guest Post Friday. But before we start, I want to beg, plead and ask with awesome sprinkles on top. See in a few weeks, I have no GPF guests. And it would be terrible if that happened. You'd have to read stuff my ME on a Friday. And that would be wrong (unless it's April).
So... please please check out this post on how GPF works and e-mail me at mishagericke(AT)gmail(DOT)com.
OK... Now onwards!
Great stories have great characters and great characters have great relationships. Now, by great I don't necessarily mean warm and loving relationships (though they may be). I mean dynamic, complex, interesting and fun relationships. Think of some of the great relationships in literature. Here are some I love:
Elizabeth and Mr. Darcy
Frodo and Sam
Denethor and Faramir
Luke Skywalker and Darth Vader
Wile E. Coyote and Road Runner
See? Many different types of relationships and all of them great! I love stories with deep and complex relationships. (Okay, Wile E. and Road Runner don't have a complex relationship, but still…)
In any story your characters will likely be interacting with other characters, and therefore will have relationships. Those relationships are worth thinking about. All sorts of things influence our interactions with others. Appearance, first impressions, background, prejudices, shared experiences, cultural expectations… The list could go on. Relationships are rarely static, either. They evolve over time for better or for worse as each person changes and grows.
My best advice for creating great relationships is to first know your characters. Know them well. If they are real people to you, then they will interact with each other in real and interesting ways. If they're just cardboard cutouts and their relationships exist only to push the plot along…well, that's not usually very engaging. Make sure character interactions aren't based strictly on stereotypes, either.
I always say that great characters are the most important part of any story, but if you look a little deeper, you realize that the characters' relationships with each other can take your story from ordinary to something special!
Angie Lofthouse has published a dozen sci-fi and fantasy short stories in a variety of print and online magazines. Her debut novel, Defenders of the Covenant, will be available this March. You can read her short fiction and learn more about her novel at her website or visit her blog for more writing advice and other fun posts.
So... which are your favorite relationships in books?
I agree! I think making the characters real - with issues and flaws of their own that people can relate to - makes any romance seem that much sweeter.ReplyDelete
So true, Talli. Thanks!Delete
It's not just how they interact with the main characters - it's how they ping off the others as well!ReplyDelete
And also how others react to them. Not many people think of it, but other characters' reactions to the MCs can really give depth to relationships.Delete
Yeah, I especially like that, Alex. Thanks!Delete
I prefer characters who don't particularly like each other at first. Makes for great tension!ReplyDelete
Yes, Jessica. I love the tension there too. Thanks!Delete
Great post! Knowing your characters inside and out is essential for creating dynamic relationships readers can relate to or at least feel invested in. Two of my favorite relationships in literature are Scarlett and Rhett from Gone with the Wind and Anne and Diana from the Anne of Green Gables series.ReplyDelete
Thanks. Those are some great relationships!Delete
I'm with Laura regarding Scarlett and Rhett. But also Scarlett and Melanie - a more complicated love/hate relationship even.ReplyDelete
Yeah, I love those really complex ones. Thanks!Delete
There are so many it's hard to choose. It's not exactly literary, but I like the relationship of Calvin and Hobbes.ReplyDelete
Oh, me too! Calvin and Hobbes are terrific.Delete
Love this! You named two of my favorites: Lizzy and Darcy, and Frodo and Sam. I also love: Harry and Ron in the Potter books, and although it's not really a "relationship," Javert and Valjean have such an intense rivalry going in Les Miserables!ReplyDelete
Oh, yes. I love those others too. Especially in Les Miserables. It's so intense.Delete
Catherine and Heathcliff in Wuthering Heights. Really is "the strangest love story ever told."ReplyDelete
Yeah, I agree with that!Delete
Scarlett and Rhett, can you say chemistry?ReplyDelete
Good luck on your writing goal Misha.
My favorite this week is Augustus and Hazel from The Fault in our StarsReplyDelete
Haven't read that one. I'll have to check it out!Delete
These are such wonderful examples of complex, intense or well-drawn-out relationships. With the ones I recognize, I can easily recall how their interactions with others and others' reactions to them help to develop and build a three-dimensional character in my head.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Angela. I'm glad you enjoyed.Delete
When I was young, the relationship between Scarlett O'Hara and Rhett Butler fascinated me. Also, the friendship/love between Jo and Laurie in 'Little Women'.ReplyDelete
Yeah, Jo and Laurie is another great example. Thanks!Delete
I like protag v antag relationships where the antag is sympathetic and the protag is a bit of a jerk, LOL!
Yeah, that can work well sometimes. Thanks, Laura.Delete
I like characters who know each other so well that they can operate as a unit.ReplyDelete
My favorite characters are from Downton Abbey, pick any one of them. Well, Maggie Smith, of course.
Yes. I like those kind also. Thank you!ReplyDelete
I love the examples of the relationships. My favorite of them all is Luke and Darth Vader. I love how it becomes a story of love in the very end.ReplyDelete
By the way, I tagged you :) Check out this post :) http://sylviavanbruggen.blogspot.com/2012/02/campaign-games.html
Thank you, Sylvia. Me too!Delete
I find character to be the most important thing to keep me involved in a book. Other things matter of course, but if I feel no connection either good or bad, with the characters, I select another book to read. Brutal? Perhaps. But really, if the author isn't interested enough in the characters to make them shine, why should I give my time to them? Great post. XReplyDelete
Thanks you. I completely agree about character. The most important thing!Delete
I'm really surprised that nobody has mentioned Harry, Ron & Hermione. Such a great, complex relationship between the three of them. Friends and romance, jealousy and loyalty. Harry and Ron come together for the simplest reasons in the world, but they have to overcome everything to stay friends. Harry represents everything Ron hates in the world: Harry overshadows him, Harry has money, Harry is close to Hermione. By definition, they shouldn't get along. But there's something deep down inside them that holds them together.ReplyDelete
Yes. Those three definitely have great relationships! Love Harry Potter!Delete
I think character relationships matter as much as the plot...they are the ones guiding the action/emotion/sequence.ReplyDelete
There are so many out there but I loved the dynamics of another forgotten interaction "Sherlock and his Watson, even Moriarty".
Yes, I think so too. And that's a great example!Delete
I couldn't agree more. Great characters are indeed the best part of a story! Excellent post.ReplyDelete
Thank you, Heather!Delete
Great advice on characters! :)ReplyDelete
Thanks so much for hosting me, Misha!ReplyDelete
Awesome words! I love characters who are diametrically opposite to one another. Makes for great tension and opportunities to allow them to grow.ReplyDelete
Thanks, Jack! That does make from some great conflict and tension.ReplyDelete
Hi Misha, Hi Angie! Lovely post on how to flesh out relationships with words! I'm all for complex relationships! I vote for Kermit and Miss Piggy!ReplyDelete
Hi, Old Kitty! Kermit and Miss Piggy definitely fall into the great relationship category. Thanks!Delete
You have been tagged madam! http://eyesoffate.blogspot.com/ReplyDelete
Kinda hard to top roadrunner and Wiley Coyoye. I do like FBI Special Agent Aloysius Xingú L. Pendergast and his evil brother Diogenes Pendergast.ReplyDelete
So true. And I loved Frodo and Sam's friendship in LotR. Great relationships can definitely draw a reader into the book and keep them there.ReplyDelete
Wow the blog is simply awesome, i must say worth reading!ReplyDelete