When creating characters for your story, remember that the relationships between characters will drive your plot. Here are tips to help you create those relationships.
Writers will tell you that it’s important to know your characters well, especially your main character. You should develop your characters’ strengths and weaknesses, habits, likes and dislikes, fears, hopes for the future, and favorites. When I first began to write the Buckley School Books, I developed profiles like that for every kid in Mr. Hoker’s class.
However, my stories really gelled when I realized that the relationships between characters are as important, if not more important, than knowing every tiny detail about each individual character. The relationships between characters should create conflict in the story.
Here are some common threads between characters. Weave these phrases between your characters’ names for some great plot ideas!
Ideas for relationships between characters:
> Envies (Is jealous of)
> Admires (looks up to)
> Rivals (competition between characters)
> Defies (goes up against, challenges)
The Hunger Games is an excellent example of how complex relationships between characters can create a compelling story that captivates millions of people all over the world. Suzanne Collins created a complex web of characters as she wove her plot.
> Katniss Loves Gale, Peeta, Primrose (in different ways and at different times in the story)
> Katniss Hates the Career Tributes because they are cruel, the Capitol
> Katniss Envies (Is jealous of) Peeta’s ability to deal with the Hunger Games—he does better in front of the cameras, he seems more confident
> Katniss Admires (looks up to) Foxface’s cunning and cleverness
> Peeta Rivals Gale because they both love Katniss
> Katniss Fears the Capitol, the Hunger Games, President Snow, her competitors
> Katniss Protects Primrose, Rue, and Peeta
> Katniss Defies (goes up against, challenges) President Snow, the Gamemaker, and the Capitol
> Katniss Owes Peeta because he loves her, saves her, looks out for her
> Katniss Upsets lots of people! Gale and Peeta, President Snow, the Gamemaker, Effie, Haymitch…she can be one prickly girl and she is a magnet for trouble.
Now, use this information to create your own story! Create three or more characters for your story and develop the relationships between them. You can also practice by figuring out the relationships between characters in stories you love. Harry Potter, Twilight, Percy Jackson—these are few bestsellers with complex relationships between characters. Can you list them all?