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Strengthening Your Character Through Personal Relationships

In most of your stories, your characters will have personal relationships that you’ll need to develop. A great way to strengthen your characters is through their personal relationships, so it’s extremely important that you spend time planning them out. Whether it’s with family, friends or significant others, make sure you put in the work to develop them properly.

Here are some tips on strengthening your characters through personal relationships:

Writing Friends:

Your character’s friendships are important because they will help your protagonist grow and develop and aid them on their journey. If your character has close friends, you’ll need to help your readers understand why they’re friends and what it means to the story. Here are a few things to consider:

  • Think about when your characters became friends. Backstory is important when it comes to writing a long-time friendship, so consider clever ways to share this information with your readers. Don’t just say they’ve been friends forever—let your readers in on the story.
  • Build a believable friendship. Give your readers something to relate to. People become friends for all sorts of reason, but let us know why they’ve stayed friends. Show us how your characters have grown with the help of each other.
  • Understand that friendships change. People change and that can change how friends interact and relate with each other. It’s very possible that your main character will go through some sort of experience that changes the way they relate with their friends. This could sometimes destroy a relationship or strengthen it in some way. Think about how you want  your friendships to build your story.

Writing Family:

Families can be either a source of tension or a source of comfort for your characters—or even both. Deciding what type of relationship you want your character to have with their family is the first step. Here are a few things to focus:

  • Figure out what people make up your character’s family. Does your character have two parents? Any siblings? Do any extended family members live in your character’s home?
  • Think about whether your character’s family offers safety. Does your character feel safe at home? Does the source of conflict in your story come from home? Is the family unit cohesive or are their serious problems? Does your character trust their family?
  • Figure out what your character’s home life is like. Can your characters be themselves around their family?  If your character is at home a lot, do they act like they usually do? Do they have to hide who they are outside their home? Do they keep secrets from their family?

Writing Significant Others/Romantic Relationships:

Figuring out whether or not you want to include a romantic relationship or not really depends on the story you’re telling. If you think it will detract from your main character’s journey, you might decide not to. However, if done right, it won’t weaken your story if you decide to include one. Here are a few tips on doing it right.

  • Focusing on finding a balance. If your novel isn’t romance or erotica, romance shouldn’t be the main focus of your novel. Make sure there’s not too much romance, which means the romance shouldn’t overshadow the main plot.
  • Don’t let romance detract from character development. Your character should still grow and develop in some way and this shouldn’t be done entirely through meeting a love interest. Your character needs to grow on their own, not because they’ve been “saved” by someone mysterious and intriguing.
  • The romance should add something significant to your story. The romance should reveal something about your characters and hopefully make us relate to them a little bit more. If your love story feels unnatural, your readers will know it’s unnecessary and feel disconnected from your story. Only add a romance subplot if it adds something to the overall plot.

-Kris Noel


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