Developing Relationships

Just saw the movie Hugo. It’s not for little children. It’s too slow to keep their attention, but it’s a nice adult movie.

I liked the way the move took the time to build character relationships. Too many movies spend more time on special affects and action than they do on relationships. I’m not looking for the Notebook type relationships or romantic comedies. Those are all about relationships. I taking about sf & f action movies.

In Thor, they developed the relationship with his brother Loki, but if they hadn’t, there would have been no story.

By the end of the movie, Thor has a mortal-female love-interest. She is his soul mate. He would move Heaven and Earth to get back to her, but just when did they develop this love? They talked a few times, worked together to accomplish their goal of stopping Loki, but when did they fall in love? It just happened without any evidence.

In Hugo, directer Martin Scorsese and screenplay writer John Logan, take the time to explain the relationships between the boy Hugo and Papa George, between Hugo and Isabelle, Georges’ goddaughter. They also develop relationships between the minor characters such as the captain of security and the flower girl, and between two shop owners. At the end of the movie, you understand what has happened and why.

If your character is a two dimensional action figure, like James Bond or Indiana Jones, you don’t need to take the time. Every women falls in love with these guys. They guys are always horny. Any beautiful woman will do for them. Neither character ever changes. Their relations are always the same. Which is perfectly fine, if that’s who your character is. And that is what your story is about.

But if you’re going for someone more complicated, you have to take the time to develop and explain relationships.

Jim Butcher’s Harry Dresden of the Dresden Files is not a two dimensional character. He grows as a person  throughout the series. In the first book, he starts out as a loner. He needs no one. He and Detective Connie Murphy are barely friends. But eventually, he sees the importance of having friends.

By the the eight book, Harry has a brother, best friend and an almost romantic relationship with Detective Murphy. These people will stand by him, and will walk into hell with him to watch his back.

These people do not pop out of nowhere. They come in throughout Harry’s investigations. Each character is carefully developed. Each character has an influence on Harry. They help round him into a three dimensional character.

Don’t just depend on action or sex to sell your book, take time to decide who your character is and what type of people his/her friends are. If he/she has a new set of friends for each book, this person does not have depth. If the same people hang around, then explain why.

Don’t have two people be slightly acquainted in one chapter then several chapters later be best friends. Satisfy us with an explanation as to how this happened. This may take several chapters.

Consider your closest friends. How did those relations develop? Why do you like them? Use that information to help develop your characters’ friendships.