1. nidge
    Offline

    nidge New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0

    family relationships?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by nidge, Mar 11, 2015.

    Couldnt find a thread directly relevant. My last novel was entirely unplanned and upon re reading I learned that my character relations were very weak. My new one is heavily based on a mother/daughter relationship and Im a bit apprehensve as I neither have kids nor am I a woman. My family experience in reality is also basically nonexistent.
    the relationship will also be a bit strenuous as the mother raised the daughter in complete solitude protecting her from the evils of dystopia. I guess what Im looking for are guidelines for ensuring a strong bond of kinship and how to balance a realistic level of love, trust, dislike, arguments, lessons, etc. A convoluted subject indeed but any input would be appreciated. I am very new to expressing relationships through the subtleties of action and dialogue.
     
  2. nidge
    Offline

    nidge New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Forgive my cell phone grammar and text block
     
  3. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,685
    Likes Received:
    1,079
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    Well, you haven't had any kids, but you've been one. And even though your family experience may have been virtually nonexistent, you may be able to find a way in by thinking what you would like to have had from your mother as a child and write from there.
     
  4. GingerCoffee
    Offline

    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 3, 2013
    Messages:
    17,605
    Likes Received:
    5,879
    Location:
    Ralph's side of the island.
    Not enough to go on. It's like asking someone to define every word in the dictionary for them.
     
    Last edited: Mar 11, 2015
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  5. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    Read other books or watch movies or TV shows with similar family structures. Read up on basic psychology around mother/daughter relationships. If you want your portrayal to be realistic, you're going to need to do some research. After you do some research and come up with more specific questions, the community can help you better.
     
  6. KaTrian
    Offline

    KaTrian A foolish little beast. Staff Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 17, 2013
    Messages:
    5,566
    Likes Received:
    3,563
    Location:
    The Great Swamp
    I don't think you necessarily have to have the experience of motherhood or daughter...hood (that's a word, right?) in order to pull this off. Pose a few questions to yourself: why is the mother so protective? How does she make sure the daughter doesn't get too curious about the outside world? How old are they? How was the mother brought up? Is her love unconditional or does she use manipulation, coercion etc to keep the daughter close? Does she stay with her out of loyalty and/or pity or is she rebelling to the point she'd be willing to leave her? Where is their relationship going? Is it "Us Against the World" dynamic at the beginning but then deteriorates? etc etc

    Put them in some situation, a conflict, give them a problem, something and this way experiment with the characters to find out how they'd handle it.

    I think you can answer a lot of these even if you lack family experience.
     
    jannert and Catrin Lewis like this.
  7. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    How do you want this to go?

    Mother/daughter relationships are as varied as there are mothers and daughters. (We have three daughters, all three relationships are different)

    So, tell us - roughly - the story you want to write, and our answers can focus on the sort of things that would fit in.
     
    Lemex and BayView like this.
  8. BayView
    Offline

    BayView Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Sep 6, 2014
    Messages:
    5,665
    Likes Received:
    5,159
    I sometimes feel like I just trail Shadowfax around this site, hitting "like" to all her posts. (I liked the one above before even noticing who had written it).

    You don't want to write a generic mother/daughter relationship, you want to write THIS mother/daughter relationship. They're not living in our current world, so you don't need to worry about details of socialization. Write the relationship that makes sense based on the two characters you've developed.
     
    Catrin Lewis and Shadowfax like this.
  9. Bryan Romer
    Offline

    Bryan Romer Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 26, 2014
    Messages:
    891
    Likes Received:
    381
    Watch some mother/daughter films and read books based on that concept?
     
  10. tonguetied
    Offline

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    219
    Location:
    Near Atlanta
    Not sure if this helps, but a young child develops an intense love/liking/desire for their parent since they are dependent on them for everything, shelter, food, clothing, education, exposure to the 'world', etc. I am not a parent but would believe as a parent your children are like a work of art you have labored on for years, something you want to protect and cherish forever and may not ever want to see it change or grow up.

    Once a child learns enough to start thinking for themselves they begin to see the 'world' differently, somewhat based on their limited view and exposure, but often due to different influences outside of their parent. As Shadowfax alluded to the relationship can be anything you want it to be.
     
  11. Shadowfax
    Offline

    Shadowfax Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 27, 2014
    Messages:
    2,529
    Likes Received:
    1,355
    I agree that a child is "a work of art" that SOME parents might want to "never change or grow up". We've all seen the stereotypical child tied to his mother's apron strings (I'm guessing that this happens more with boys?). The difficulty arises as soon as the child is subjected to influences outside the home. In our case, when they went to school at 5! The teenage years - and hormones! - crank this up.

    But you're right about children developing an attachment at an early age - look at how confused abused children get - even to a "bad" parent.

    Getting back to the OP, I have a feeling that the child is brought up in isolation (?) in which case the "outside influences" wouldn't come into play in the same way. Hormones would kick in, but they wouldn't be reinforced with peer group ideals of what a "kid of that age" should be allowed.
     
  12. nidge
    Offline

    nidge New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Good words of advice here. Attachment is a specific issue here in that the relationship this girl shares with her mother is the ONLY relationship she's shared with ANYONE save for her grandparents who died when she was two. So it's naturally going to be strenuous and abnormal which allows both for more flexibility and more difficulty. It's a "them-vs.-the-world" scenario and the mother is naturally extremely protective and the daughter somewhat resentful of her excessive protection.

    Obviously I don't want a "stereotypical mother-daughter relationship," whatever that is. That being said I'm sure there are traits shared between what one might call a "standard" kinship relationship and having very little family knowledge to base these traits off I find it difficult to identify them. I'm not asking anyone to outline a 'basic relationship,' I'm more asking for anyone to tell me something about a foundation of any relationships they may have witnessed or partaken in. If I don't know anything about how parent-child relationships are founded or built then I can't build a fictional one.

    A few people mentioned to read more about mother/daughter relationships. Upon googling books that focused on the relationships between family members I only found references to articles on improving those relationships. Any recommendations?
     
  13. nidge
    Offline

    nidge New Member

    Joined:
    Mar 11, 2015
    Messages:
    4
    Likes Received:
    0
    Scratch that last bit, I found a few books on the topic but am still eager for other people's input. Perhaps I'm just overanalyzing but I find the subtleties of relationship in story are what solidify them but I'm not too sure how to pinpoint such subtleties as these. How would YOU go about pinpointing the desolation and solitude a mother and daughter share with each other through growing up side by side alone in a barren cityscape?
     
  14. Catrin Lewis
    Offline

    Catrin Lewis Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Jan 28, 2014
    Messages:
    1,685
    Likes Received:
    1,079
    Location:
    Pennsylvania
    @nidge, just wondering. By "strenuous" do you mean "tenacious"? "Strenuous" means "requiring hard physical effort."

    When you say "a barren cityscape," do you mean they're living alone among the ruins of an abandoned city? How is it they see no one else? How do they survive?

    Actually, answering that question will give you some of the answers you seek. What do they both have to do for each other to keep themselves alive and safe? What jobs and chores and responsibilities do they both have? What is the child not allowed to do, lest she be in danger, real or imagined?

    Can either read or write? Do they have access to books? Does the mother tell the child stories? How does she explain the world around them? In terms of science? tradition? mythology?

    What affectionate names do they call each other? Is the mother able to tell the child how much she loves her and how her life would be over if the child ever left? Or has she clammed up? (I hope not.)

    It's good you're making an effort at this. But, I wonder. Your own life experience seems unique and intriguing. I'm wondering if someday, when you are able, you can write about that, and bring something new and different into the world.
     
  15. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,819
    Likes Received:
    7,342
    Location:
    Scotland
    A lot of what writers create comes from their imagination. I think no matter what your own personal experience might have been, your story will be stronger if you imagine what your story's mother-daughter relationship will be like. Just take time and feel your way into it. Pretend to be that particular mother. Pretend to be her daughter. What feelings and ideas come to you as the story's plot and setting unfolds?

    What you come up with may surprise you, and it will definitely be more believable than something cobbled together from other people's experience, using 'research.' This is not a topic that requires research, because it will be different for every single individual on this planet.

    If you want this relationship to be strong and good in your story, then take time to imagine what it would take to BE that kind of relationship. Anything you come up with will be valid, and it will also be yours.
     
    Catrin Lewis likes this.
  16. HelloThere
    Offline

    HelloThere Contributing Member

    Joined:
    Apr 18, 2014
    Messages:
    295
    Likes Received:
    240
    Have you ever read "The Road" by Cormac McCarthy? It's a father/son relationship, but it's definitely similar in the sense that the father is the only human the boy has ever known. It's a great read as well. :)
     
  17. Ben414
    Offline

    Ben414 Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    Aug 1, 2013
    Messages:
    974
    Likes Received:
    785
    What age is the daughter? If she's 8 years old, 12 years old, or 17 years old, it would make a difference.

    The constant anxiety would take a toll on both of them. The mom might always be irritable and quick to anger if she's subconsciously upset that she can't provide for and secure the safety of her daughter. Maybe the mom would be prone to depression and would have times where she wouldn't care for either herself or her daughter. All of these things would affect their relationship. If the daughter is older, maybe she feels conflicted between the love for her mother and the feeling that her mother is negatively affecting their chances for survival. Or maybe their relationship has no holes. These things would depend on many factors that only you can determine.

    I disagree with @jannert that using only your own experience will be better than cobbling together stuff from research. Your options are not a binary, research-only or personal experience-only. You can do both, and I strongly believe that's the best option. Do your research; see how mother/daughter relationships work; identify the common patterns in these relationships; THEN apply your own experience/knowledge of your story to make the story's relationship your own.
     
    jannert likes this.
  18. jannert
    Offline

    jannert Contributing Member Supporter Contributor

    Joined:
    Mar 7, 2013
    Messages:
    7,819
    Likes Received:
    7,342
    Location:
    Scotland
    You've made a good point, Ben414. Maybe I was being too blinkered. I guess I was concerned that in a case like this, seeking out different 'options' might make creating this relationship a clinical exercise, when in fact it's an emotional one. However, you're right. There is nothing wrong with getting some ideas from other sources—as long as they inspire and don't cramp the writing.
     
    Ben414 likes this.
  19. tonguetied
    Offline

    tonguetied Contributing Member Contributor

    Joined:
    May 23, 2014
    Messages:
    548
    Likes Received:
    219
    Location:
    Near Atlanta
    I am getting lost with your request. You initially said the two are isolated in a dystopian world, and you reinforce that with the first paragraph of the second quoted post. However you mention the mother is protective of the daughter, protective from what? If these two are truly isolated then their bond will probably be nothing like anyone has experienced that could post on this forum. I think you could make it anything you want but I would probably lean towards how you perceived the mother's bond to be with her own mother, not much else for guidance it seems. Even in "The Road" there were other people to interact with. You could run free with how they interact and deal with each other, isolation is pretty close to no social rules to follow in my opinion. "Lord of the Flies" comes to mind with how this story might develop.
     

Share This Page