Learning how to write a relationship is an important task for a writer, because let’s face it, relationships will always be a part of any and every book. There are all types of relationships mentioned in books, including friendships, family relationships, relationships with coworkers and customers, and of course, romantic relationships. There are also some basic things you need to know to make those relationships come alive in your writing, and below are a few of them.
Some of the Basics Are the Same
When describing relationships in your book, you have to first know your characters well and determine what their relationships with one another are going to be like. Some of the most important things to remember include:
#1: Use the right characterization. Whether you’re describing something physical or someone’s personality, try and relate it to another character instead of just reciting statistics. In other words, “she came up to his shoulders even though she was wearing heels,” sounds better than merely describing the woman’s height and shape. This makes the description a lot more vivid and easier to remember.
#2: Pay attention to the dialogue. Make sure the dialogue is authentic and realistic. Don’t write rigid statements, especially between two characters. The characters’ relationship can easily be demonstrated through their dialogue, but only if it’s real, true-to-life dialogue. Don’t make it sound stiff or unrealistic, and if you aren’t sure if it’s right for your characters, read it out loud and see if it sounds right.
#3: Consider making a “history” part of the characters’ relationship. Determine how the two characters’ previous lives may have intertwined. If you decide to include this in the story, make it show by creating a bit of awkwardness and emotional distance between the characters. You want the reader to wonder why they seem to hate or be attracted to one another, why one of them is so closed off, and so on. You can do a lot with this one writing tip!
#4: Don’t hesitate to show the complexity of certain relationships. Show the evolution of the main characters. The changes in their lives as they get from Point A to Point B can be remarkable, especially if you write about changes that the readers aren’t expecting. Show not only the journeys of the characters, but also how these journeys intertwine and influence one another. Show two enemies who find they have something in common and become friends, or two friends whose relationship falls apart because of a betrayal. These are things that readers love.
#5: Bring the setting to life through the characters. Your characters’ moods, sensory experiences, and actions can be influenced by the setting itself. If you write about a rainstorm, you can have characters who play in the rain together to make it a little more interesting. Regardless of the setting they’re in, your characters have to become one with it so that your descriptions of the setting won’t go to waste.
#6: Use internal monologues whenever beneficial. Internal monologues are a great way to increase the readers’ knowledge about the characters and their relationships with one another. If you want to know how to write a relationship more effectively, this is a very effective technique. You can show the readers what the characters think about one another without the other characters knowing about it, which can also increase the suspense a little bit!
#7: Try to explore the motivations of the characters. Ask yourself what drives each of your characters to do what they do, and what motivates them to say and do certain things to one another. Explore that in your writing, and you can even examine the external conflicts that could possibly arise because of the characters’ actions and their reasons behind those actions.
#8: Don’t forget about minor characters. When you’re developing your characters’ relationships in writing, don’t forget about minor characters. They, too, deserve to be able to interact with one another and have stories of their own. You don’t necessarily have to tell a story for every character in your book, but try to make sure the readers know that these characters do, in fact, have a story!
The Practical Tips Are Always the Best
Of course, developing relationships in your book has to be a realistic process, but that doesn’t mean those natural processes are always going to come easily to you. You have to create relationships that make the reader connect to the characters so that the relationships are more convincing to them. Here are a few more tips to try:
#9: Use real life to develop certain characters. Should you base every trait of that character on someone you know in real life? Of course not, but some of your character’s quirks, idiosyncrasies, habits, and even their accents can come from one or more people that you know. This also makes the characters, and their relationships with others, a lot more realistic.
#10: Always make some character relationships change over time. After all, this happens in real life as well. You certainly don’t want all of the relationships in your book to stay the same until the very last page. Consider real-life relationships. They change all the time, so your characters’ relationships should do the same.
#11: Get to know your character intimately. You should know everything about your characters and their relationships with others, even if you don’t include every single detail in your book. The more you know them, the better you can develop their personalities and relationships with others, so make sure you know your characters very well.
#12: Give your characters flaws that affect their relationships with others. Readers need to know why certain interactions between characters turn out the way they do, and this can often be explained by describing the characters’ flaws. You can easily explain character flaws in a backstory, and these flaws can result in conflict, arguments, and so on.
#13: Never make characters like each other right away. This is especially true for romantic relationships. It doesn’t mean that they have to hate one another at first; it just means there shouldn’t be an instant attraction between these two people. If you want to know how to write a relationship the right way, this is one of the most important things to remember.
#14: Look to literature for some guidance. Literature gives people great examples of great relationships. Go back and discover some of the classics for some effective examples of how certain characters should interact. Don’t plagiarize, of course, but you can easily discover a flow in these relationships that you can then use to influence how your own characters are going to behave.
Relationships Should Be Solid
A realistic, solid relationship is what you want when you’re building character relationships. After all, most relationships aren’t shallow – although some are, but these are typically not the types of relationships you want to include in your book. A few other important things to remember include:
#15: Don’t let characters stalk another character. Of course, if this is the point of the story, then it’s alright to do this. However, as a general rule, a character shouldn’t spend a large amount of time staring and looking at their love interest. It just gets too creepy for the reader. Have this happen occasionally and then only for a short time, mainly to get the point across to the readers.
#16: Don’t overuse the word “love.” When characters are in love, show it mostly through their actions, thoughts, and behaviors. Saying “I love you” constantly is not likely to go over well with the reader, because too much of a good thing is still too much.
#17: Develop your characters’ relationships slowly. Falling in love instantly rarely happens in real life, so don’t make it happen in your book either. Let the characters’ affection for one another slowly grow over time. This is not only more realistic, but it also offers the reader some buildup and anticipation, not to mention something to look forward to.
#18: Don’t let characters “stare into one another’s eyes” very often. This is another one of those trite behaviors that readers will get tired of quickly. A quick look into each other’s eyes can say a lot, but if you overdo it, it simply won’t have the same effect. Make sure your characters aren’t staring into each other’s eyes on a regular basis!
Romantic Relationships 101: The Basics
Although romantic relationships aren’t the only relationships you’ll be writing about, these types of relationships require some different thinking on your part. Instead of tips to make these relationships work better, let’s take a look at what NOT to do when developing romantic relationships in your book. These include the following:
#19: Don’t make any type of abuse sound glamorous. Abuse is never pleasant, so don’t write about it as if it is. Also, don’t write about abuse as if it is normal, because this is in no way normal behavior. The suggestions behind how to write a relationship include both do’s and don’ts, and writing about any type of abuse as if it is sexy or glamorous is a big DON’T.
#20: Don’t make one party submissive or weak. Relationships should be about two strong, independent people. Making one person strong and the other weak is not a good idea, and it rarely goes over well with readers. The readers will almost certainly start to dislike the submissive character, and they may even start to lose interest in the character over time.
#21: Don’t eliminate vulnerability from every character. When written correctly, vulnerability can greatly contribute to the characters and their relationships with others. Never be afraid to show a character who is a little vulnerable, because this can lead to a lot of strong feelings on the part of both people in the relationship.
#22: Don’t bring two people together that have nothing in common. Everyone has heard the expression, “opposites attract,” but two people have to have something in common for their relationship to grow. Let the characters have at least a few things in common; otherwise, the readers will not be pulling for the characters’ relationship to work out, and you will have lost them.
#23: Make sure the characters’ relationship is a healthy one. This means no mind games, no control freak in the relationship, no complete dependency on one another, no jealousy, no ignoring friends, and no having every single thing in common. Make the relationship realistic and healthy.
Love Stories Are Important
Love stories can be found in all genres, so it is important to learn to write about the relationship between two individuals. Make sure the readers will want to root for your two main characters, and this can be done by following these tips:
#24: Let the readers know how each side will benefit from the relationship.
#25: Sometimes, it’s better if the characters do not end up together in the end.
#26: Early on, establish each character’s needs and wants for their relationship.
#27: Make the characters empathetic and give them specific hopes, dreams, and identities.
#28: Find innovative and creative ways to split up the couple and/or bring them together.
As you can see, there is more to establishing relationships between characters than just boy meets girl, and so on. You have to know how to write a relationship so that it is unique, interesting, and keeps the readers wanting to turn the next page to see what happens. You can be writing a comedy, a tear jerker, or any other type of love story or friendship-centered story, but learning how to develop your characters and their relationships is crucial to know even before the first word is written.
Making your characters realistic and learning the different facets of this type of writing goes a long way in developing scenes that will keep the readers’ interest. It isn’t difficult, especially if you keep in mind certain tips and suggestions, and it does get easier to do the more you do it.