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Four Effective Ways to Create a Compelling Relationship Between Characters
It goes without saying that characters are the bedrock of every narrative fiction. What drives your plot forward and encourages readers to hop on this ride is how fascinating your characters are. And a perfect way to create intriguing characters is by exploring their relationships with other characters in the story. Most characters are bland and unevocative because their relationships with others aren't compelling. Relationships need to be dynamic and realistic to captivate readers and show character development. Here are four efficient ways to create a dynamic, evocative relationship:
Give Characters a Moment to Think
The most straightforward way to develop your character's relationships is with introspection. Here, a character considers his relationships and questions his thoughts and feelings about them, plagued with questions like 'why do I look up to him? Why do I hate him? What do I gain from unleashing vengeance against him?' This makes characters like Hamlet very endearing and his relationships well developed. Shakespeare, through his soliloquies, allows us to get into the minds of his characters to see the rationale and feelings behind their relationships, as exemplified in Hamlet's soliloquy about avenging his father's murder. Contemporary fiction uses streams of consciousness to allow readers into the minds of characters to know their thoughts and feelings about the people they relate with.
Give your Characters Strong Opinions about Others
Don't shy away from giving your characters strong opinions. It may make them oppressive and flawed, but in narrative fiction, flaws are good. You make a dynamic relationship possible when your characters hold strong views about each other. In The Sun Also Rises, Ernest Hemingway opens with Jake Barnes sharing his opinion about Robert Cohn. This strong view tells us a lot about Robert and a lot more about what Jake thinks. He clearly loathes Robert, yet they become pals, and soon we see a feud between them. And their relationship develops because Hemingway wasn't afraid to give his characters strong opinions. Your characters can express their strong opinion through streams of consciousness and more creatively through dialogue — make them gossip about each other.
Give your Character a Chance to Risk it All
As it is human to be selfish and self-seeking, it is also human to be selfless and sacrificial. And the latter makes a relationship more endearing and fascinating to observe. We have seen this technique in classics, myths and legends, used to display a heart-wrenching moment where a character lays down his life for another or for a cause. A classic example is the historical movie, Pompeii. The relationship between Milo and Cassie is intriguing because of the sacrifice both characters are willing to make for each other. It culminates in the beautiful final scene where they choose to die in each other's arms, rather than try hopelessly to escape the pyroclastic surge. So include the willingness and the opportunity for sacrifice in a character's relationship, and watch it become memorable for your readers.
Put Two Main Characters in a Triangle
Relationships aren't always straightforward and including complexities makes them more beautiful and dynamic. One way to make the relationship between characters complex is by making it a triangle. A love relationship and even friendship can possess the element of a triangle. This increases tension between characters and that tension is perfect for narrative fiction. A classic example is the love triangle between Gatsby, Daisy, and Tom. This triangle is tense because Tom isn't portrayed as another undeserving husband. Nick Carraway helps us see his merits and demerits and the weight upon Daisy to choose between keeping her oath to never leave him and her desire to be with Gatsby. Explore the possibility of a triangle in the relationship between two main characters in your story. Put something or someone between their cozy relationship and see what happens.
Written by Readers’ Favorite Reviewer Frank Stephen