Puzzle Pieces: fitting characters together

One more post this week. I’m on a roll. ;)

This post is going to be about writing. And I am slightly terrified to impart any kind of advice to anybody, as the magnitude of my own inexperience is…well, big. But here goes. (Maybe somebody will find this remotely helpful.)

One of a writer’s greatest challenges (at least in my case) is creating a strong bond between two characters. Whether it be love of the romantic sort, the admiration of an apprentice to his master, or the close affection of good friends, growing and developing a relationship between people is hard. Especially if the relationship starts out with a Princess Leia + Han Solo mindset…

Image result for why you stuck-up half-witted scruffy-looking nerf-herder

Here’s a list of questions I ask myself.

  1. One of the first signs that two characters are going to connect is usually a “click”. They have something in common. A common fear, a common desire, a common love. A common hobby. “Hey, you collect 1960s movie posters too?” Have your characters clicked through a shared interest or emotion?
  2. Does the hate/dislike/confusion/indifference they feel towards each other in the beginning blossom with head-scratching suddenness into warm endearment? Make sure you’ve maintained a smooth and consistent arc throughout the course of the story.
  3. Are you showing rather than telling? Body language, actions, speech, and thoughts should all be subtly used to communicate the growing bond.
  4. If there’s a lot of friction at first, keep it going even when they’ve fallen for each other. The closest of friendships still spark and sizzle at times. Are there enough disagreements to make the relationship realistic?
  5. Do your characters grow each other? A couple need to have interlocking personalities; fit together like puzzle pieces, each satisfying in the other what he/she is lacking. If Jen is quiet and shy, make Brad more outgoing. He’ll draw her out of herself and provide a stimulant. On the other hand, if Brad is over-the-top extroverted and drives people crazy because he’s loud and self-assured to the point of obnoxious, Jen might keep him down to earth and help him develop a sense of humility. That goes with friends too. Give the volatile fireball with anger management issues a level-headed, gentle friend who struggles to express his feelings. Make the friendship grow them into better people.

So there are some questions which have helped me in my bond-developing. I have a long way to go before I’ll be able to post any wildly eloquent writing advice here (ha ha, right), but hopefully this was a beneficial read and a good start. Have a wonderful weekend!

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