Sunday, March 20, 2016

Relationships Make Characters Interesting

I doubt many novels have been written about a hero/heroine who didn’t interact (actually or virtually) with other people or animals. Think about it. Relationships, not really appearances or jobs, make characters (lovers, families, friends, neighbors, colleagues, or enemies) interesting to readers.
You can add depth to your characters by considering these factors. 
1) How do your characters communicate? Characters communicate through actions as well as orally. For example, a wealthy male protagonist might seem more lovable if he did a load of laundry for his partner without being asked than if he bought a dozen roses. Characters not interested in a relationship interrupt, raise their voice, doodle, look at their watch, or pick at their nails when others are talking. They nag their cohorts. These are good traits for character development, i Saw You in Beirut, JL Gregervillains.

Don’t fall into the Hollywood cliché of having the hero or heroine “just know what his his/her partner wants.” Psychologists are convinced this is unrealistic.

2) Do your characters share goals? Allies or lovers, who have no shared goals, are not realistic partners on a long–term basis. The dissolution of shared goals (divorce, business failure, or war) is the basis of strong plots. Authors tend to build more psychological tension into their novels when they allow characters to mourn the loss of a shared relationship.

If one of your character steamrolls the rights of others to attain a shared goal, you have created a villain.

3) All relationships involve a struggle for control. If you doubt the statement, think about raising children or training a dog. These struggles, when mainly petty bickering, can add humor to fiction, or they can foreshadow a crisis.

Please tell me about ways you use relationships to develop characters and plots in your novels.

I tried to consider these factors above as I developed the characters in I SAW YOU IN BEIRUT. For example, Sara Almquist, my protagonist, and Eric Sanders may to seem like a romantic couple, but they share common goals and even submerge their strong personalities enough to rescue a nuclear scientist from Iran. Available at Amazon: and on Nook: