1. Artoris
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    Artoris New Member

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    Companions/dynamics

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by Artoris, Dec 10, 2014.

    Hi all, recently started my journey into writing fiction.

    I've started scribbling ideas (for YA) and am starting to get a good sense of the MC. I'm now starting to think about the role of core 'companions' and how the dynamics of these relationships work. So, thought I'd reach out with a few questions to get the ball rolling: what different 'types' of companions have you come across? Which relationships do you find easiest to write authentically? (peers? mentor/student?), Do you ever have your MCs go it alone?

    Hope that makes sense, I'm very early days at this, so would appreciate any thoughts or tips on articles/books that cover this element of fiction. Many thanks!
     
  2. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    I don't often have a MC on their own for the entire time. It's doable but I get a little bored. Types of companion relationships I write mostly are:
    - two alpha types bumping heads to be the stronger, sometimes a love triangle with a third person
    - two old friends plus a new person thrown into the dynamic

    What kind of genre do you want to write in?
     
  3. Artoris
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    Artoris New Member

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    Thanks for your input Lancie! Genre - I'm going for Sci-fi, mainly 'ship based' as I want to really grapple with a more political, intrigue, power struggle side instead of the more 'blasting aliens' style of sci-fi.
     
  4. Lancie
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    Lancie Contributing Member

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    I don't think I'd class it as YA, have you ever read any of the Warhammer series? My other half loves it. Chock full of bro-mance, factions, civil war and backstabbing. Of course it's quite violent and aliens and humans alike are blasted but that's the first thing that springs to mind.

    I think the faction side of things would be something to look at, that would open up to friendships on opposing sides.

    And although you're writing sci-fi, don't be afraid to delve into history for ideas and inspiration, some things are stranger than fiction.
     
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  5. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    My MC has a sidekick/roommate/best friend who fills in her blind spots and deficiencies. My MC is idealistic, naive, quiet, nerdy, and really laser-focussed on the events in front of her. The sidekick is loud, a bit cynical, very into pop culture, very good socially, and has an ability to see larger patterns in events.
     
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  6. Artoris
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    Artoris New Member

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    Lancie - Yes, I've read some Horus Heresy though I admit, just the first - none of the fantasy books mind. I'm hoping to bring some of the elements I mentioned into YA, so it'll be somewhat a fusion I suppose - so the focus isn't so much on politics etc. but it's there in the background. I'll definitely think about cross faction friendships/dynamics - sounds like an interesting route.

    Commandante Lemming - With your characters being 'opposites' how do you find common ground for them? Is it a sort of Sherlock/Watson relationship?
     
  7. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    They work in the same office in the same profession - they're both journalists working for a cable news channel. Nina - the MC - is a political reporter. Vinya, her "sidekick" (although I really call her the co-protagonist now) is the fashion and culture blogger. They have different interests but they have to do the same things every day in terms of chasing stories, they report to the same people, and they're at the same level of the same organization.

    The Sherlock/Watson analogy is one I've used, although I my case I call it a "Reverse Sherlock/Watson" because the sidekick is the one with the Sherlock Holmes brain that eventually puts together the bigger picture of the struggle the MC is fighting.

    They also figure out a positive dynamic insomuch as Vinya is Nina's social coordinator and encourager, whereas Nina is Vinya's conscience and the person that helps her focus her otherwise chaotic life. Their lives are generally improved by their interaction with the other, and they both kind of get that fact.
     
    Last edited: Dec 10, 2014
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  8. Artoris
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    Artoris New Member

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    Sounds good, I do always worry that companions to the MC might become a sidekick that almost 'works for' them instead of a living breathingperson with their own goals and agenda. Great to hear that characters can mutually influence!
     
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  9. Commandante Lemming
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    Commandante Lemming Contributing Member Contributor

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    Well Vinya is definitely designed to "work for" Nina...I literally started her from a template of what I considered ideal "sidekick/best friend" traits (Literally, "This girl is the role that Judy Greer always played in romantic comedies" - even though my story is newsroom drama.) But you then have to put skin on those bones and come up with real reasons why a real person would be like that, and also why they would get along with your protag. In my case it was that they were forced into acquaintance by being the two "newbies" at the office and both had a pressing need to find permanent housing in their new city (which led to sort of "shotgun roommates" situation). That, and developing Vinya over time leads her farther and farther from what she was originally conceived as, because the more I write about her, the more I care about her and think "What would Vinya do here" rather than "What does Nina need around her at this point." I originally programmed Vinya to be a bubbly, ditzy, rich girl - but once I dug down into her internal motivations and why she does the crazy things she does, she became both a much darker character and a much more caring (albeit cynical) character. Starting from an archetype doesn't mean you have to stay there.

    Even if you create a "straight from central casting" companion for your character, you'll eventually get to know that person as a person, and discover how they became who you designed them to be.
     
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  10. Simpson17866
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    Simpson17866 Contributing Member Contributor

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    It sounds like you've already gotten very good theoretical advice, and the only thing I can think to add is that: whether or not the sidekick DOES a thing that the MC needs him/her to do is not as important as whether the sidekick thinks s/he SHOULD be doing the thing or not. If one of the "supporting" character's doesn't like what's happening, then you've extra layers of conflict already.

    The best way that I've found to do this is think of the cast as "X main characters + Y secondary characters" rather than "1 main character + X-1 secondary characters + Y tertiary characters."

    Also, thank you @Commandante Lemming for sharing a specific example of this dynamic in action! @Artoris , if you're looking for other examples (and don't mind Villain Protagonists) then I would recommend Breaking Bad.
     

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