Saturday, January 21, 2012


I have spent a fair amount of time in my life trying to figure out what it is about all my favorite stories that was so captivating to me.  I think popular stories hold different things for different people, but for me personally, it always comes down to chemistry among the characters.

This is not a new observation by any means.  Its been batted around aplenty, but I think about it a lot.

In Writing Excuses 6.18, Lou Anders referred to something called the "relationship, or dynamic character" in a story.  I really like this concept, because its not just the love interest that can amplify the character in the story here, but any person that can be important in the life of our character. 

When we are by ourselves, we are a certain way. (I myself am quiet and usually at my computer.) But when we are around our love interests we are usually at our best... that is to say, we put our best foot forward.

Now think about how you are around your crazy college friend Bob. 


Different story altogether now.

That's not to say the love interests can't be the dynamic relationship character... by no means, just look at anything Stephanie Meyer.  It works great.  But, your MC probably acts a different way around different people just like everyone else... this is something that can broaden the sense of your story if you open up to it. 

And about that dynamic relationship character:

Sometimes it can even be a character that our MC doesn't even like very much.  *fun* 

I like to use characters to bring out some of the latent qualities of my MC.  How often are we really put in a position to look like failures and we willingly take the hit?  Most people would never know, but if your MC takes the hit for another person, you as the reader will see it, and it will change how you see the MC.  Depending on why, it will make you mad, or proud.   

Now imaging my MC takes the hit for a character he doesn't even like... a real tool. 

It's not just what my MC does for a character that shows his inner qualities, but who he does it for that makes the story come into sharper focus.   We may even get to see a side of that tool-character that they have never showed anyone before... our MC's high road may have opened up the Tool's emotional range in a way we never thought possible, creating a leading role for them on our stage that we and defiantly the reader, never expected.... and that's chemistry.

The combinations of this scenario seem endless from that POV.   :) 

Just one more tool in the "show, don't tell" toolbox.

(for a fantastic read on the writers toolbox, pick up a copy of Stephen King's On Writing!)


  1. Very insightful! I totally agree. Two of my characters, Jerry and Morris, are funny when they're together, because they always rag on each other. I love writing their bromance banter. But Morris is different with Sheila. With her, he's the protector, her rock. The dynamic between them is different, and I write his dialogue very differently in those scenes.

    Great post.

    1. Thanks! Yeah, I love the dialogue between Jerry and Morris. Perfect example of what I mean. (Haha bromance is a great way to discribe it.)

      We all have many sides to show...its fun to flesh out the many sides of all our characters



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