Relationships Matter

Wednesday, May 15, 2019
The relationships between the characters in a book matter just as much as the relationships we have in real life. The most popular stories involve characters we relate to and a believable story line. Sometimes the most relate-able moments in the book are the ones happening beyond the story line. Readers love to hear about a mother and daughter who have a close-knit relationship, but if you don't add a bit of conflict and the occasional disagreement readers will have a hard time connecting to your characters. Similarly, if a couple is constantly fighting and the story lacks moments of tenderness and caring, the reader will feel you've left something out. I find myself writing those little "human" details in after my first draft. The first draft includes the major moments in each relationship, but it's during the edits that I find I'm lacking those believable relationship happenings.

The closer attention I pay, I find myself doing this same sort of faux pas in real life. I love my husband dearly, but I don't always talk about how he leaves crumbs on the counter every time he has a piece of toast. I fail to mention that he gets his dishes to the sink but can't seem to load them into the dishwasher. I want people to see how amazing he is, so I leave out anything that could be construed as negative. What happens then is, people leave a conversation thinking "he's too good to be true - I wonder what's going on?" None of us are 100% hero or villain. Even the darkest of villains may have a soft spot for his mother and even the best daughter may let her mother's call go to voicemail while muttering cuss words under her breath. To have real relationships or a believable story line, we need to sprinkle in those times that make us human. The tender moments. The moments of frustration. Those ugly crying in the shower or can't get out of bed moments.

Have you ever read a story you couldn't relate to because the relationships didn't feel real? Because the characters were either too good or too bad? Are you a writer who has advice about making those relationships work? Share your reader and writer thoughts here - help make the rest of us better when it comes to real life relationships AND book relationships!

Thank You!


PS - my adorable, good at sports, funny son got kicked off the bus for the rest of the week. I don't like to talk about or write about that kind of stuff, but it's what makes us real.  (dripping ice cream, poor park jobs, and muddy feet make us pretty real too!)

Crystal is a busy Wisconsin mom and auntie and wears many hats.

You can find Crystal riding unicorns, taking the ordinary and giving it a little extra (making it extraordinary), blogging and reviewing books, baby carriers, cloth diapers, and all sorts of other 
stuff here, and at her personal blog - Crystal is dedicated to turning life's lemons into lemonade!


Anonymous said...

One-dimensional characters and relationships are boring. By creating individual characters with their own quirks, believes, eccentricities, superstitions, habits, fantasies, interests, etc, it becomes easier to develop interesting and believable relationships. Bringing them together in a way that highlights their differences creates tension. Tension creates conflict which is the engine of the story.

Crystal Otto said...

Thank you anonymous - great point!

I would also like to share a great tip I received via email today:

A book for children should show that a defect does not have to overshadow a strength. Children need to learn resilience. Failure to achieve one goal does not mean that you are unable to reach any goal.


These are both invaluable ideas - thank you to our fabulous readers!


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