Only recently, I’ve learned the importance of focusing on relationships. Not just our own, but our characters’ as well. In The Orphans of Jadox, I had one family that I’d really fleshed out. The aunt, the cousins, the siblings. They knew one another, they grew up with one another. They were as functional as they could be in their situation. (Which may or may not be what one might consider functional).
Then I had another character come in and join their family. That part was fine, but I completely ignored his past. Who was his family? What previous relationships did he have? When I expanded on his relationship with his best friend and the daunting expectations of his father, he grew and became a real person.
Only once I was able to open up his past and his relationships was I really able to get into his head.
We as humans are always built around others, like it or not. Growing up, I was always known as someone else’s sister. Then I got married, and right now, I’m known as someone’s wife. (He’s a bit of a celebrity where we’re living, he’s on several different soccer teams.) But those are only the beginning. I have relationships with my patients at work, my coworkers, and previous classmates. There’s some kind of connection between me and everyone else I come in contact with.
Every relationship is built off of experiences, small moments that create bonds.
And that can create a lot of conflict and a lot of emotion. Relationships can influence everything we do. When we resent our boss, it may make us choose a different job, a different career. Sibling rivalry may make us want to be the best, always compare ourselves to that perfect, brilliant sibling.
Never underestimate the power of relationships. They build who we are. They are the building blocks of a character.