How to Craft Key Character Relationships: Writing Tips

Crafting Key Character RelationshipsWhen it comes to creating killer characters, one crucial area to develop is their key relationships. The character relationships they’ve had will shape them and play a key role in who they are coming into your story. This will dictate how they behave, what they believe, and how they interact with your other characters.

The main purpose of this post is to help you develop a character before you start writing, but some of the relationships below may come into your characters’ lives after your story starts. If that’s the case, then consider how this newcomer will affect and change your character going forward.

Here are six key character relationships to consider and develop for your characters:

Parents

Everyone has parents. Even if they died or don’t play a role in your characters life, at some point they existed. The relationship, or lack of relationship, will likely define your character’s core beliefs and personality. Some questions to consider:

Are/were they close with their parents?

Is/was there tension or rebellion at any point?

Did your character grow up with a lot of rules? Or with not enough rules?

Did your character have everything they needed from their parents? (love, food, shelter, clothes, etc.)

Does your character have the same core believes as their parents? What caused this?

What was the biggest thing they disagreed/fought about growing up?

How much influence do they have over your character?

What are some defining moments in their relationship?

How do they treat each other overall?

Siblings

There tends to be two types of sibling dynamics: best friends or combatants (and of course, somewhere in between). Siblings might share a bond over their family and shared experience or they might be super competitive and always trying to one-up each other. (Though I would argue a lot of this is dictated by their parents, so that’s something else to keep in mind.) Or maybe they’re total strangers at the start of your book. Here are some questions to consider when developing your character’s sibling relationships:

Do your siblings get along? Why or why not? (Or, do they get along mostly with the exception of a few areas?)

Are your siblings competitive?

Do your siblings fall into traditional birth roles? (ie, is your older sibling more of a protector/caretaker? Or are they more untraditional?)

Do they challenge each other? (And if they do, is it in a good way or a bad way?)

How often do they talk? Or are they estranged?

How much influence does your sibling have over your character?

What are some defining moments in their relationship?

How do they treat each other overall?

Friends

Who your character chooses to spend their time with will tell us a lot about what they look for in others and what they value. Consider:

How did they meet?

How long have they been friends?

What do they have to offer each other?

Does one person take advantage of the other? (If yes, what’s kept them together?)

How do they support each other?

How much influence does your friend have over your character?

What are some defining moments in their relationship?

How do they treat each other overall?

Extended family

Extended families can be a lot of fun for your story because they’re close enough to know your character well, and they can either be really helpful or cause a lot of damage. Consider these questions for any extended family members you want to include:

How close and involved were they with your character in the past?

Did they get along?

Did they hurt or help your character?

In what ways do they conflict with other members of the family and with your character?

Are they always welcome at family events? Or are they considered the black sheep?

How much influence do they have over your character?

What are some defining moments in their relationship?

How do they treat each other overall?

Teachers/Mentors

Nearly everyone I know has at least one teacher or mentor who has made an impact on them. Odds are your character has someone like this too. If it’s your main character, they might not meet this person until your book starts. If it’s a secondary character, it’s possible we won’t meet them at all, but if it’s important for you to consider how a teacher or mentor might have shaped your character–whether we meet them or not.

How did they meet?

How does your mentor support and help your character?

What is your mentor’s teaching style? (More kind and compassionate? Or tough love?)

How does your mentor push and inspire your character?

What do they agree and disagree about?

What’s the most important lesson your mentor taught your character?

How much influence does your mentor have over your character?

What are some defining moments in their relationship?

How do they treat each other overall?

Significant others

Sometimes your character is either in a relationship or has a romantic history when your book starts. Or sometimes your character is unattached and building that relationship plays a key role in your book. Either way, any significant other is going to leave an impact on your character. Consider these questions for any romantic relationship your character may have had:

How did they meet?

How long have they been/were they together? (And if they’ve since broken up, when and why?)

Are/were they supportive of each other?

Do/did they challenge each other? (And if they do, is it in a good way or a bad way?)

What core believes do/did they share?

What do/did they fight about?

How much influence do/did this person have over your character?

What are/were some defining moments in their relationship?

How do/did they treat each other overall?

I hope this helps you craft your key character relationships!

There are likely dozens of more questions you could ask to develop your key character relationships, but these are some of the biggest.

Now it’s your turn: What key character relationships to you develop? Did I miss any? Or do you have anything to add to these categories? Tell me about it in the comments!

Pin it up!