07 April 2016

Family & Friends

**My theme for this year's A to Z Challenge is THE REVISION PROJECT. Topics I come across while I write the third draft of my novel, Uneven Lines.**

I couldn’t even say the easy part, even though the timing seemed perfect. We seemed to be having a moment. It might never happen again. Mom, I like boys. I just took another spoonful of ice cream. 

Everyone has a certain group of people in their lives that they're relatively close to, who they probably see every day. This group is usually made up of family and friends. If you're writing about a fictional character, chances are he or she will come across these people every now and again throughout the story. How do you fit in these characters? How do the relationships enhance the story? 

The family aspect has always been an interesting one when it comes to my book. Jordan has exactly one family member: his mother. He never comes close to mentioning any other family member because they don't exist for him. I wonder if that will be strange for the reader. I just figure at this point in his life any questions he may have had are way in the past and he just doesn't care. Why would he take the time to explain something to the reader if he doesn't care about it? 

At the same time, the relationship with his mother is a huge factor in the book. With this story, there are obviously a lot of issues regarding a person's age and maturity, and her character highlights these as well. She was actually a teenager when Jordan was born, so that helps to show this idea of having to grow up too soon. But their relationship is also very dysfunctional. She's basically never around (making Jordan's secret relationship with Tom much easier) and even does a few things that help advance the main plot. So is she a vital character? I'd say so. But there are still some things I struggle with. 

I guess, like most things that happen in the last third of the book, it's something I still haven't figured out yet. I know Jordan's mom is flawed, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. I'm just trying to figure out how to make that realistic and yet interesting at the same time. I know I'm going to end the book with their relationship incredibly fractured, possibly beyond repair. I wonder if that's something readers will be ok with. While this plot line will have an ending, it definitely is not wrapped up in a pretty bow. It's messy and open-ended. Things could change in the future or they could stay the same. There's really no way of knowing (unless I write a sequel...). 

And then there are friends, of course. Jordan's friends are more part of their own subplot than the main plot. Sometimes I wonder if I need them at all, because I'm afraid their scenes seem forced. At the same time, it would feel strange without them. Doesn't everyone have friends, particularly someone in high school who also claims to be popular? Even if he doesn't like them, they should still exist. I also worry that the end of this particular subplot is too over the top. Jordan has two close friends throughout the book, one of which he becomes even closer to by the end, the other he completely destroys, all while furthering his own agenda. I guess it shows his evil side, which is an important part to his character. 

So I guess family and friends are especially important when they're showing different aspects to your main character. How does he act differently when he's with them? How do they move the story forward? As long as they're serving a purpose, then they're important characters.

Do you show family and friends in your stories? Do they help show different sides to the main character?


  1. however imaginative we might be our experiences never leave us, they influence our writing

  2. I show family and friends when they are important to the plot, but having them there just to populate the MCs life seems like a waste of words for me. Mothers tend to feature a lot (nicely dysfunctional) but fathers, not so much.

  3. My stories must center on family because all of my characters interact with both family and friends a lot. Relationships are a major plot driver for me. It would be strange to write a character without them. What the heck would the character do? Talk to himself? I suppose that's possible.

  4. Like Annalisa, I show friends and family when they're important to the plot. In my current WIP, it's mentioned in an early scene that 'her friends call to her' but I don't get into any specifics about the friends because they don't figure in to the rest of the story.

  5. I only show friends and family if they are important to the storyline. If not, then my characters go solo. I will usually have friends in the stories though. I think sometimes we can do without family but not friends. Good luck with this WIP, Sarah!
    Many Blessings,

    My A2Zs @ As the Fates Would Have It & Promptly Written
    Follow Me (Ravyne) Twitter|Facebook

  6. I'd recommend continue writing those subplots and then when you have someone beta read or critique it, ask what they think about the subplots. If a bunch say they don't fit, then rethink them. Or they might like them and want more. This is something you may not figure out until you're five, six, twenty drafts in. ;)

    ~Ninja Minion Patricia Lynne aka Patricia Josephine~
    Story Dam
    Patricia Lynne, Indie Author

  7. Family affects us all, and can be a great way to gain some insight into a character's life, just so long as we don't get too bogged down in backstory to see what's going on right now.

    @mirymom1 from
    Balancing Act

  8. I think given the theme of your story and its controversial matter... a tidy ending might not be realistic - or expected. I would love to hear more about the mother/son relationship, and I'm curious how it will change by the end of the book.

  9. Yes. They make the MC much more interesting by allowing the reader to understand how others feel about and interact with him or her.

  10. J here, stopping by from the #atozchallenge - where I am part of Arlee Bird's A to Z Ambassador Team.
    April is here and I'm excited about it. Best of luck to us both on meeting our goals of posting and hopping to other blogs.
    My blog has a giveaway. There's a bonus a to z challenge each day to encourage people to visit more stops.
    Tonight's #azchat was super fun!

    Any character that advances the plot, moves the story forward, or reveals something about the main characters or theme is good to keep around, I believe.

  11. Single mother relationships do sometimes mean just mom-and-child, so I don't think you need to worry there. I am interesting in seeing how everything all comes together.

  12. I love stories with strong family and friend connections, even if it is just a mother. As pointed out there a lot of mom-child single households. My family is mostly gone, so I get the importance of friends in a persons life and maybe having very few to interact with, and I am not the only person like that so I think readers will understand.

    I read it is seeing how other characters think, interact and care about the protagonist that emotionally endure them to the reader because it show connection and reveals different sides and aspects of the protagonist.

    It is not just about how your character sees himself but how others see him. That is true in real life too. No man is truly an island if they want to survive and thrive in this world.
    Juneta @ Writer's Gambit