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  1. #1
    Phil Reynolds
    Guest

    Developing Relationships

    Hi there. First of all, I'm new to this site, so I apologize if any of my questions in my first few posts seem out of place.

    I'm currently working on a horror novel that I've been developing for the last two years or so, and vital to the plot is the development of the friendship/relationship between two characters. For some reason, I find it exceptionally hard to figure out how to show this relationship developing. The characters meet at the beginning of the novel, and they have to develop a strong, albeit somewhat unhealthy, attachment to one another before the ending. This occurs in a timeline of roughly three or four months. As I said, my problem is with showing that relationship's growth. Does anyone have any tips?

    Thanks in advance for all your help.



  2. #2
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    Phil,

    Hmm...Unhealthy friendships/relationships are often formed on the basis of co-dependency and/or secrets, so you could start with that. They also tend to have an exclusivity about them, the "us-against-them" viewpoint.

    My advice would be to read a few novels that portray this type of relationship. The first one that comes to mind is a creepy mystery called The Secret History, by Donna Tartt. I think it was published in the early '90s, so it should still be in print.

    Look at some of the Stephen King books, too. Some of them have characters who have formed unhealthy attachments. Another resource might be some memoirs about bad relationships.

    Sorry, but it's too early in the morning here for me to think of many specific titles.

    Hope that helps, though.

    Jeanne

  3. #3
    Patrick Edwards
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    Hey, Phil. Welcome

    I have a quick question before I suggest anything. In the 2 years you've been working on this, have you "finished" the story? Meaning, have you actually written beginning-middle-end?

    Or when you say "developing," have you only "thought about" or outlined?

  4. #4
    Phil Reynolds
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    To Jeanne:

    Thank you for the tips, and I have read several Stephen King books, but I usually find his character development lacking. And, I've already developed the basis for these characters' unhealthy relationships. One character, Chris, is essentially a loner who becomes instantly attached because Mandy is the only one to pay any real attention to him in years. Mandy, on the other hand, is only attached to Chris because he reminds her of her ex-boyfriend, who committed suicide. So one is simply desperate for human contact, and the other is trying to save him.

    My problem is not with understanding their relationship, simply with how to show its growth.

    To Patrick:

    Very good questions, and I should have been more clear. I have never written this story beginning-middle-end. I have, however, developed the main characters, their personalities, and important elements of their history. I have also written the first few chapters, and several different endings. I have recently settled on the ending which suits the story best. I have found filling the middle parts in, especially the parts relating to the main characters' relationship, difficult to manage.

  5. #5
    Jeanne Gassman
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    Phil,

    Perhaps you're missing my point. If you read a book like The Secret History carefully, you will see how the relationship grows and evolves among these friends.

    That aside, you may be overthinking this. At some point, you have stop mapping the process and just start writing. If you have the beginning and a general idea of the ending, then just start writing and trust your instincts.

    It's also possible that you don't know your characters well enough to understand how they would react in particular situations. Why is Chris a loner? Why do people ignore him? What is his family background? What does Chris want in life beyond a friend? What does Chris's best friend say is his worst quality? What does Chris's enemy say is his best quality? The same questions apply for Mandy.

    You need to look at these characters in terms of stress. What can you do to them that will create a crisis in their lives? How will they respond to that crisis? How does the crisis affect their friendship in the early stages and at the end?

    If you feel that you do know your characters well, then my recommendation is the same as what I said in the second paragraph: Just start writing. Listen to your characters. They will guide you through the middle. It's okay to wander off on tangents. A good novel becomes a living, organic thing that takes on a life of its own. Sometimes you have to take a risk and follow those wild ideas--even if they don't fit into the grand plan.

    Just my thoughts...

    Jeanne

  6. #6
    Keith .
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    If you feel that you do know your characters well, then my recommendation is the same as what I said in the second paragraph: Just start writing. Listen to your characters. They will guide you through the middle. It's okay to wander off on tangents. A good novel becomes a living, organic thing that takes on a life of its own. Sometimes you have to take a risk and follow those wild ideas--even if they don't fit into the grand plan.

    Amen, and very well put.
    km

  7. #7
    Phil Reynolds
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    Thank you for the advice. And you're right, I did miss the point of your original post. I took your advice and asked a "what if?" question about Chris and Mandy's relationship, and this actually gave me a starting point for Chris's trust in her. As for that series of questions you asked me, they are good questions, and most of them are questions I have answered in developing Chris, but I find that my knowledge of Mandy's character is perhaps lacking and one-dimensional.

    I think the best advice you gave me, though, was to just write and see what happens and what they do. I will give that a try and hopefully there will be some material ready for critiquing sometime soon.

  8. #8
    Patrick Edwards
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    Yeah, Keith, I need to send an "Amen" to Jeanne's post as well. Very well put.

    (And, Phil, I can tell you're going to spit out something pretty darn good.)

  9. #9
    Debbi Voisey
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    It's so funny how people's opinions differ on the same subjects. I always find Stephen King's character development really strong.

    *shrug*

    Debbi

  10. #10
    Patrick Edwards
    Guest

    Re: Developing Relationships

    I agree, Debbi. I think Mr. King is one of the all-time character-developing greats (from all that I've read).

    If you don't believe that, read The Long Walk.

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