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Writing Character Relationships

Character relationships are important to add dimension to the characters and can help make them and the plot more realistic. This isn’t just for romantic relationships because building the characters’ platonic and familial relationships are important as well. So here are a few tips on creating believable and endearing relationships your readers will love.

  • Don’t rush into it. This goes for platonic relationships as well as romantic ones. A big cliché complaint with romance stories is that the two characters tend to meet and fall head over heels in love with each other after two conversations or one loving glance across the room (sorry Romeo and Juliet). While romantic connections can begin on the first date, the characters probably shouldn’t be professing undying love and devotion to each other an hour after meeting. The problem isn’t so much the length of time that they’ve known each other as it is how well they know each other, which is why character friendships need time too. If your characters spend two full days together where they really get to know each other deeply and we can see the progression from strangers to people who understand each other, great. If their relationship spans a year but all they do is check each other out then you have a problem. Make them know each other and interact in meaningful ways to create the relationship and show how it came to be.
  • Show their history. Not every relationship your characters have is going to be created in the span of time in which the story takes place. Your character might have a best friend they’ve known for ten years or three older siblings. Just because these predate the beginning of the story doesn’t mean you don’t have to show what kind of relationship they have. You can say that so-and-so is the best friend but you have to make us believe it. Are they the kind of friends that tell each other everything, like even what they probably shouldn’t? Or are they more the kind that have fun and leave the drama when they go out? Show what kind of relationship the characters have rather than just telling.
  • Give the reader a sense of why the relationship fits. In some stories you read about the guy and the girl who are just so cute together and they’re falling in love but…why? Why does this pairing work? Having things in common is important, particularly in things that are important to the character, like values. But they can and should also have differences, some of which serve to make the other better. Together they should push each other and support each other. If you make them connect in this way it makes the connection much stronger to the reader and that makes them want to cheer them on more. If it’s all about the smooching it can get rather boring quite quickly.
  • Make them complete without the other(s). I know I just said that making the characters push each other is a good thing, but they still need to be complete characters on their own. If the only real thing you can say about the character is that they are X’s soulmate or best friend, then they’re not a character. It’s more interesting to see how people interact with each other than Love Interests™ following each other around.  
Looking for picture book recommendations

I think that picture books with disabled characters are probably really important, but I don’t know of many.

I’m looking for books that are *not* disability awareness books, but books where disability is just part of the world.

Eg: I saw a picture book once that was about going to the doctor, and one of the people working in the office was an adult wheelchair user. She wasn’t sick, she was just at work working. 

Does anyone know what that book is called? Or other picture books where disabled characters exist but the story isn’t about disability awareness?

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