Monday, May 28, 2012

Different Ways To See The Same Thing

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Time for a craft post! I love craft after all - especially concerning character development. I've talked before about writing through the eyes of your MC. But I want you all to consider for a moment the way your MC connects and interacts with your other characters. Of course each of these characters must be fully developed as well, you have to know them all. But what I'm talking about here is the relationship between characters.
The first thing you have to ask yourself if you want these relationships to come to life is, "How does this character view my MC?" Let's check out an example!
Let's go with Harry Potter on this one, shall we? There are too many characters to mention so we'll look at just a few key people. (See what I did there? They're so real they're people)

  • Ron: Harry's BFF, he loves the guy and would lay down his life, but he also has some jealousy issues. He's constantly overshadowed by Harry after all, just like he was by his siblings growing up. 
  • Snape: Wow. The whole complex mystery behind this character truly revolved around just this question, didn't it? Harry represented everything he wanted but couldn't have, meaning (spoiler alert) Lily Evans. And to make it worse, the woman he loved chose the man he despised most, his tormentor in school, who Harry happens to be the spitting image of. Except for those eyes. Lily's eyes must be a constant reminder to Snape of the mistake he made and the promise he lives to fulfill. Talk about complex and mixed feelings. 
  • Mrs. Weasley: The mother Harry deserves. And indeed, she loves him as a son, to the point that she attempts to protect him when it's nearly impossible. She is his surrogate mother.
  • Petunia: Lily's sister and Harry's aunt. Harry is a constant reminder of everything she wanted but was denied. Another case of jealousy, which is why Harry is treated so horribly by her entire family. 
Do you see what I'm doing here? It's like looking at motivation, but it has to be directly related to the MC. This defines the dialogue and the general interaction/choices that the characters make in relation to the MC and therefore the plot. 

One more example that we'll make up. Say we have a love triangle. Ouch! Pointy edges. The MC is a girl named... Julie. Her two boys are Sean, who has loved her from across the street for years, but scarred by his childhood he uses sarcasm to disguise his true feelings, and Carl, the hottest guy at school who sees her as his best arm candy. Now of course she doesn't know this, nor do we the readers at first. 

Two interactions:

Great, just what I need right now, Sean. I try to concentrate on my broken heel instead of the dark eyes that always penetrate my defenses. He's probably coming to gloat.
"You have a run in with a yetti at that dance?" He smirks and I resist the desire to smack him or burst into tears. 
"Yeah, that's exactly what happened. Why don't you go back to brooding in your room?"
His grin turns into a scowl. "Are you okay? Did he hurt you?" 
"Why? You want to give him a high five?"

Okay, now one with Carl:

"Nice performance in Lit."
I glance up from my Tuesday Special to find Carl Landers standing over me in all his ripped glory. Is he teasing me? No, his eyes crinkle in the corners and his smile... Oh wow. Don't drool, Julie.
"Thanks," is all I can muster.
He straddles the bench next to me. "I have a game this weekend."
As if a single person in this lunchroom wasn't aware of that.
"Are you going?"
I take a sip of water to wet my dry mouth. "I don't know. I hadn't thought about it much." 
"The school needs you there," he says. 
I narrow my eyes. "How do you figure?"
"Well, if you're there, in the front row, I'll play better and maybe we'll win Homecoming."

Now go write out your characters viewpoint of the MC and try writing a few practice scenes. 


  1. "Why? Do you want to give him a high five?" LOVE that line. Anyway--this is a great post! What's always most interesting to me is the dymanic between characters and how it develops over time.

  2. Love this idea. In my head I know what the characters think of my MC, but writing specifics and then scenes is something I have not done.

  3. Great idea, Lisa! I love the idea of writing from the pov of other characters - lots of fun :)

  4. awesome post, LG! I think the most important thing here is to know your characters so well you can become them. That's the surest way to get their POVs just right. Yay! Have a great week~ <3

  5. Great post Lisa, and timely too! This is exactly what I'm working on in this rev of my WIP. :-)

  6. Loved the interaction with Sean!!! Yeti! Carl made me want to snarl :) that's just me and my prejudice against guys who are out for arm candy!

    Not only is developing characters' feelings toward the main character necessary, it's also a lot of FUN! An absolutely brilliant craft tip.

  7. What a great exercise. This is a cool way to add dimension to your story. Loved the examples.

  8. This is such a great way to dive deeper into character.
    The HP examples are perfect!

  9. A girl named Julie! Hey, I want to meet this Carl guy ;)

    Excellent examples!

  10. Oh Lisa... You just gave me the best idea!

    Use secondary characters to write up character descriptions of your MC.

    You are brilliant! :D

  11. Super job, Lisa. Using those minor characters to reveal more about the MC and others in the story is an opportunity not to be missed. You chose some great examples from Harry Potter!

  12. I love this idea, I'm going to give it a shot!

  13. Great post! I love secondary characters and J.K. is the MASTER of making great ones. I think of them as bringing out specific characteristics of the main character as part of their reason-to-be. Plus it's just fun. :)

  14. Um, how did I miss this brilliant post????

  15. Hmm. I think I need to practice this.

  16. Exactly. No two people in life have the same dynamic connecting them, so no two characters should in any story.

  17. Great post... I have to keep reminding myself of the character connections back to the MC