All great novels have something that makes them standout. Perhaps its a gripping plot, or a mesmerizing setting. But the one thing that runs through all these stories, and keeps the reader coming back for more are the relationships between characters. Love, friendship, and comradeship. Even hatred, deceit, and betrayal. We live for the drama between characters.
Recently, my writing has been centered on romantic relationships; destroying them, maintaining them, and creating new ones. Every book has a web of relationships that change throughout; ours is no different.
My current challenge is working up the courage to make my characters hurt the ones they love. You may have read in one of my previous blog posts that I feel incredibly in touch with my characters. So naturally, making them emotionally destroy each other takes a bit of a toll!
When I’m writing/destroying/creating these relationships I constantly remind myself that all relationships, in every book (and in real life) have their ups and downs. And our characters are far from perfect. No one is. The endless struggle to make these fictional relationships authentic has made me think a lot about relationships in other great novels. How do they create these epic dynamics that keep the reader wanting more?
At the moment, I’m reading a literary classic. It may not sound like a love story from the outset, but A Farewell to Arms by Ernest Hemingway is more than a World War I epic. It weaves the horrors of WWI with the trials of love. If you haven’t read it, I’d highly recommend it. Hemingway’s characters are frank and open which makes them feel genuine. To match this, their dialogue is succinct but highly emotive. Overall this creates a ‘love story of immense drama, and uncompromising passion’:
“And you will always love me won’t you?
And the rain won’t make any difference?
No.” – Ernest Hemingway, A Farewell to Arms
Obviously, I’ll never be great like Hemingway. But it is always helpful to learn from the best.
What are some of your favorite character relationships?
Leave a comment below, I’d love to see what you think!