Hola everyone, can you believe it’s Sunday again? That means it’s time for Sunday Inspiration.
Last week I gave you a picture image to inspire your writing for the coming week. This week I wan’t to pitch you an idea and an image for you to use as inspiration and to think and discuss relationships in writing and how we depict them. Every book whether it’s a kick ass adventure, period set drama, crime mystery or fantasy is based around a plot, a concept around which the various characters interact and react. Sometimes this reaction is to a situation but every character (with a few unusual exceptions) have relationships with other characters. They interact, laugh, fight , cry, fear, support, are inspired by or rally around other players in the plot and it is these relationships in their various forms that interest me.
I know that I seem to write about this constantly but the invisible writer’s hand is essential to any novel when creating and building relationships between characters within the plot. There are an infinite number of different relationships that two or more characters may have, but readers have to feel that there is an authenticity to the way that the characters’ relationship is depicted.
I think I’ve probably said it before on here and if not I’ve certainly ranted about it on various writing groups – know you characters. No matter what else you believe about how to write, whether you’re a plotter or a pantser, a genre novelist or a literary novelist it is imperative that you know what your character would do in any given situation. If you can say with all certainty that your character would react in a certain way because it is sympathetic and cohesive with the way you have depicted them in the rest of the writing then you’ve cracked it. However I can’t count the number of times I’ve read a book where the actions or reactions of the character seems to be either a) inconsistent with their naturally established character behaviour and world view or b) seems to have been contrived simply to make the plot fit even though it is entirely incongruous with the character that I have read about for the last 100 pages. This second faux par is the one that ticks me off the most, because people can be inconsistent and do act in ways that are contrary to their established character often because of social, family and religious expectations and traditions. However when some poor schmuck has just read a 100 pages of your book, you better not have wasted their time doing so because you are too unprofessional to makes sure that the writing, plot, pace, narrative and characters hang together and suspend the reader’s disbelief.
Consistency in character is almost interchangeable with depicting relationships realistically in fiction writing. Let me give you an example. I read a book where the ‘hero’ was doing some research in the library, and just by coincidence the librarian was a nubile singleton just like him and wouldn’t you know it they have chemistry and 50 pages later (a couple of weeks in the books plot) they’re deeply in love. Now don’t get me wrong, we often meet potential partners through serendipitous introductions, but this guy rolls into town knowing nobody and yet the only female under 70 years of age that he meets just happens to be in the library he needs to do research in and is his perfect match – while he, the hardened macho man (of course) solves a murder and uncovers deep hidden nuclear secrets. Yes, it could happen and perhaps if the characters had been written by a decent author then my disbelief would have been suspended. However, instead the characters characteristics wildly flip flopped on demand to fit in with the contrived plot so the relationship could be established.
Building relationships between your characters that are realistic and consistent allows the reader to not be distracted by the jarring inconsistencies and concentrate on the plot. Your great British (insert your own nation here) novel will find its plot rapidly loosing pace if the reader is mulling over how likely it is that a character would speak in a certain way, react to another character in the way you have depicted or held the belief/assumption you have penned.
So how will you work to improve the way you depict your character’s relationships in your writing? And what might the image in today’s post inspire us to write this week? I’m going to try and write a flash fiction where I at least lay the ground work for the main male character’s relationship with his partner/girlfriend being strained to breaking point when he finds out that it was her sister that ran over and killed his wife as she crossed the road without looking properly because his wife thought she was being followed by a mugger.
What ever you decide to write this week, know your characters and write relationships that readers can believe in.
But most of all enjoy your writing. Happy writing everyone.