Saturday, June 24, 2006

Characters and Families

One of the things both Mother’s Day and Father’s Day has done is remind me how important it is, as we create our characters, to ask what their relationships are with their families. Good or bad, those relationships will have profoundly shaped how our characters see themselves and how they interact with others, though always in ways that are unique to who they are.

So....when you create a character, ask yourself how they got along—or didn’t!—with their mothers and fathers. Ask yourself about their siblings. Do they have any? Did they get along?

Everything we encounter in our own lives becomes fodder for the writing. At the same time, we can recognize that someone else might react differently than we have to a given situation or relationship. That’s part of the fun of writing, isn’t it—to imagine how else it might have been or what else we could have done?

And if someone isn’t a writer, it’s still a useful exercise to ask oneself how else one could look at those primary relationships in our lives. How might we have interpreted things differently? What might have motivated those other people in our lives? What would it have been like if things had been different?

It is the relationships and assumptions and expectations we never stop to question that trip us up and hold us back. But we don’t have to let ourselves be limited. Writers or not, we can use our imaginations to wonder and perhaps discover new possibilities and new ways to look at the world and the people around us.

Happy writing and imagining!