1. FrankieInLike
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    FrankieInLike New Member

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    How do your characters connect with others/make friends?

    Discussion in 'Character Development' started by FrankieInLike, Oct 8, 2013.

    I'm just curious, because my MC will be connecting with a few people in her organization who will become her close group of friends, some of whom will die and she will be close enough to them to mourn their passing... and I was wondering how to make characters "click"?

    Obviously in real life you have shared interests with someone, or compatible personalities, or just that je ne sais quoi that draws you to someone inexplicably, but how do you convey that in your story? Especially in a war-torn, medieval-style fantasy setting (cliche, I know, don't hate me) where people can't really talk about the latest movie they saw, or how they have a pocket lint collecting hobby or something. How can I show the connection between two characters who have that connection, even if I don't understand it? Even when the characters themselves may not understand it?

    How do you convey a mutual respect? Do you show your MC's thoughts on the other character, and how they feel about them? If there was a catalyst event that drew them together, do you only need to show that scene and expect the reader to make the connection that they're friends now, or do you need to have an explaining... part (my vocabulary is failing me right now...) when in 3rd person omniscient that sort of describes how their friendship grew because so-and-so saved blah-blah from drowning, or helped them accomplish one of their goals, or something?

    Sorry this is long and rambling, but I've been dwelling on it. I've gone back to my old writings from years ago and found myself utterly unmoved by the relationships between my characters - even my MC's romantic interest! - because they seemed so utterly shallow. I kept thinking to myself, "well yes, they're friends, but what do they do together? What do they talk about? How do they spend their time in each others' company when they're not killing such-and-such-evil-monsters-from-the-evilest-place together?"

    Any input anyone has on this would be very much appreciated!
     
  2. GingerCoffee
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    GingerCoffee Web Surfer Girl Contributor

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    For this question it may be best to start writing. Build a scene and submit it for critique after you've met the requirements to post your own pieces in the workshop.
     
  3. ChickenFreak
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    ChickenFreak Contributing Member Contributor

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    > where people can't really talk about the latest
    > movie they saw, or how they have a pocket lint collecting hobby or
    > something.

    But they can talk about plenty of other things.

    - The tinker, the traveling salesman, the traveling cleric, that company of soldiers with the cute guy (will he still remember Jane?)
    - Pulling together to have revenge on that bullying cook who was so mean to Meg.
    - Helping Amy deal with her new husband.
    - Celebrating the first greens after a long, hard winter where it seemed that there was never going to be anything on the table but potatoes.

    > or do you need to have an explaining... part

    Explaining is, IMO, nearly always bad. If they're talking in a reasonably friendly manner, they're friends. Don't explain why--if it needs to come out, let it come out slowly and naturally in conversation.

    > "well yes, they're friends, but what do they do together?

    Maybe just try writing some uneventful scenes between them, to see if something comes out? I have trouble suggesting where to get the inspiration, because my characters would rather chat with each other than do anything, so I need inspiration in the other direction. :) My Henry-and-Emily pair, for example, have yet to actually get anything done.
     
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  4. jazzabel
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    jazzabel Contributing Member Contributor

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    I think the best way is to trust your own knowledge of the characters and their relationship. The reader will get a clue from their dialogue and events in the course of the story. Consider the subtext. What makes you feel appreciated, trusted, respected? How do you show your appreciation without having to go to the lengths of embarrassing 'hugs and thankyous'?

    You can't 'convince' a reader of someone's relationship in a paragraph or a chapter. Relationships need to be reaffirmed, time and again, to be seen as authentic. Avoid eventless scenes of them purely 'relating' to each other. Pack it in the relevant, story advancing scenes, as a flavour, or a main event, but make sure you aren't using it as a 'filler'.

    You might find it suitable to refer to how they became friends, or how long ago, or in which circumstances, but you do not need to 'feed' the reader cheesy soliloquy about it.
     
    Last edited: Oct 8, 2013
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  5. obsidian_cicatrix
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    obsidian_cicatrix I ink, therefore I am. Contributor

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    In my opinion, actions speak louder, and have more relevance than dialogue alone. Just because someone tells me something, doesn't necessarily mean that I believe it. I believe what my eyes tell me.

    Rather than doing a soliloquy that, as @jazzabel quite rightly points out, will come off as cheesy, and very likely forced, you can make a point subtly without overly drawing attention you your aim.

    Two of your characters are sitting in a tavern eating. There's one potato left on the serving dish, and both are still hungry, and reach for it at the same time.

    Ask yourself what the handling of the lonely spud potentially tells the reader about the relationship between these characters. If for example they agree to cut it in half, it tells us that neither is prepared to personally profit at the cost of the other. If one dives on ahead and grabs it, what does that tell us?

    And yet, it's just a spud on a plate.
     
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  6. T.Trian
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    T.Trian Overly Pompous Bastard Staff Supporter Contributor

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    Plenty of excellent responses here already. I can offer a few experiences as examples:

    I have found a good basis for a balanced friendship is mutual respect: both of you have some skill(s) and if the skills are different, i.e. one can do things the other can't, but that s/he likes/respects, the thing works. E.g. in my band, I respect the bass player a lot because he's a great musician and a terrific bass player. I can't play bass (or only as much as any guitarist can), but I love the instrument and respect those who are great at playing it.
    Likewise, he can't play the guitar but appreciates the instrument and my (highly questionable) skills with it and he likes the music I write, so that's a great basis for a friendship that's based on mutual respect. And since there's mutual respect, we treat each other well (even if we constantly cuss and take a piss at each other), e.g. we don't skip practice (or if there's a valid reason, we let the other know in advance), we're on time, and if some "outsider" antagonizes the other (e.g. at a gig's afterparty), we stand up for each other.

    When two (or more) people share the same skill, there can be friendship, but there will probably always be a competitive element to it as well. This is especially true with sports: when I'm with my martial arts or IPSC buddies, there's mutual respect, some of it based on the fact that some of us are better at certain different aspects of the sport than others, so with martial arts, for instance, one can be a great stand-up fighter but mediocre on the ground while another is a virtuoso grappler, but isn't much good at striking distance. So there's mutual respect, but with a competitive undercurrent: "could I take that guy?"

    Then there are unbalanced friendships where one is clearly above the other. Kinda like at a martial arts club, (usually adult) practitioners can be friends with their teacher despite the vast difference between their skill levels. If the members of that friendship accept their roles, they can click very nicely, i.e. one accepts that s/he's the pupil looking up to the teacher. It's only when the "teacher" starts treating the "pupil" as a subservient that problems start to occur and the friendship deteriorates.

    I've written some medieval stuff with KaTrian, and our characters usually click through something they share, be it a hatred towards a certain group (like the people who took over their country), interest in a certain thing (like fencing), or they share some experience that brings them closer. Standing shoulder to shoulder in a fight definitely brings people closer and can form life-long bonds. They may be snarky towards one another, a kind of a friendly love/hate relationship, but that's still a form of friendship since despite their bickering, when SHTF, they are willing to fight and get hurt/killed for one another. This creates a very strong sense of trust when you know the other person will watch your back when things get bad and vice versa.

    It's a great feeling when you end up in trouble and then notice your friends are beside you, backing you up. This doesn't even have to be about violence: when a different band I played in was the house band for a musical, our band leader butted heads with the singing coach (who was being unreasonable and eventually went way out of line), so we formed a "unified front," if you will, with our band leader and that helped strengthen the friendship within the band (including the band leader who didn't actually play with us). It also helped solve the issue when more people than one supported a certain opinion.

    Sometimes people who first clash can become very close friends. There have been plenty of occasions when two guys have actually fought (usually a drunken brawl), but since the fight has been fairly equal, i.e. neither got pulverised into a bloody pulp, after the moment passes, they share a drink and click. "You got a mean right hook, man." "Yeah, but I think your headbutt split my lip." "I'll drink to that."
     
  7. peachalulu
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    peachalulu Contributing Member Reviewer Contributor

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    People usually get together by mutual interests or organizations, or faiths. Sometimes people just bump into each other at the
    store and start talking, or sometimes people need help and someone is there to support or help them. If this is a medieval fantasy maybe
    their interests can spark a meeting - maybe they embroider, or someone is an expert on collecting mushrooms, or herbal
    remedies or spinning wool or something.
     
  8. JayG
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    JayG Banned Contributor

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    Three words: Point of view. If you place the reader in the character's POV—and by that I don't mean having the narrator talk about that character, I mean make your reader become them—they will view the other characters as your protagonist does.

    Most new writers believe that POV refers to the personal pronouns you use when talking about the character. It's not. That's just the method of presentation. Ther's no difference between:

    Sam went to the garage to get the car and bring it around front.
    I went to the garage to get the car and bring it around front.
    You went to the garage to get the car and bring it around front.

    In all cases the car is now out front. And in all cases it's a report. Exposition, not the character's POV. Presented in the character's POV:

    Sam studied the man for a moment. Arguing would be a waste of time, so he simply nodded and said, "Okay Jack. You win. Let me get the car and I'll meet you out front." It wasn't till he was out of earshot that he began cursing. The man was impossible—and a bigot, to boot.
    - - - - - -
    Note that we don't just know that the car is going to be fetched, we know the mindset of the protagonist, which is of more importance to a reade than a record of events. Based on what we just "saw" we can make an educated guess as to how Sam's going to react to whatever catches his attention next. Is jack a bigot? Perhaps, or perhaps not. But based on Sam's reaction, a reader will believe it. And that will bias how we perceive Jack's next action or line of dialog. See how it works?

    When a publisher says to show not tell they're referring to POV not physical description. They mean make the reader "see" the situation as the protagonist does, through their senses, as modified by their preconceptions, biases, needs, and desires. If Jack thinks Stanley is a bastard, and views his every action with suspicion, that that's how the reader should "see" him, be the opinion justified or not, true or false. Make the reader know the other characters as the protagonist does, and do that in real time, and your protagonist will become the reader's avatar. Do that and your problem resolves itself. Here's a good article on the technique I applied above.

    Hope this helps. Sorry for the lecturing tone, but this is a hot button issue with me because POV is a point on which so many writing careers founder.
     
  9. DeathandGrim
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    DeathandGrim Contributing Member

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    Mutual interests among common topics is often how most relationships start. Think about what's common in the setting and time period your characters live in and how both these characters feel about the subject. Have them discuss it in some way and then let the conversation flow naturally based on the views of both characters.
     
  10. DanM
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    DanM Member

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    Nothing says friendship more than banter...
     
  11. SarahD
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    SarahD Member

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    I found Firefly by Joss Whedon is a good example of creating a back story for some of the character with a strong sense of friendship / respect. I appreciate that this is a series and not in the same genre as what you are talking about, but someone had to write the dialogue. It was done with banter, but also with characters defending one another against criticism or their own inappropriate (especially moody) behaviour. Some of it was done without the two characters being on the same screen together.
     
  12. Wild Knight
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    Wild Knight Active Member

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    Let's see if my advice here will be valid, because this is something that I had never stopped doing over the years, as it involves some creative writing:

    Write something off-topic, that has nothing to do with the story, so that there is no pressure. For me, I tend to generate random scenarios, like the cast being trapped in an old abandoned castle that may or may not be haunted, to get a feel of how they would react in a scenario together. More often than not, I've managed to form a sort of "chemistry" between the cast members that I otherwise wouldn't have been able to cover if I had just dove straight into the novel. Sometimes, it would work a little TOO well for me, to the point where, if I changed my mind about putting all designated cast members in a story, I'd feel horrible about separating the "soul mates", even if I only leave ONE of them out.

    If you try this tactic, and you find the "chemistry" between the cast, then that's cool! Put them in a weird scenario, throw something at them that would REALLY test them out as a team... and see if they stick together as glue, or alternatively, break them. My scenarios are almost always humorous, but yours doesn't have to be if that's not your thing.

    Let's see if that works for you.
     
  13. Carthonn
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    Carthonn Active Member

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    My one plan is to have them rely on each other based on each individual's unique strengths. Then through shared experiences they will eventually develop a friendship. They will learn that alone they are hopeless but together they can overcome anything.
     
  14. Aatika Siddiqui
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    Aatika Siddiqui New Member

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    Well, my protagonist kind of keeps to herself. She's 17 and has been working at the same same place for 4 years because in her world, everybody has to work for the rest of their lives. She mostly talks to her parents, her manager and his daughter who happens her best friend. The best friend is more of a foil because she buys into the manipulation of the world they live in (think marketing towards teens), while my protagonist sees how it's evil, but ususally keeps her mouth shut about it
     

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