Monday, October 10, 2016

Character Tension - Part 2 - Family

Welcome back to this mini-series about how to build tension in your novel. Last month, we looked at conflicting characters. This week, we’re going to take it one step further and look at conflicting family members. Check out the top three suggestions I have for really amping up the tension between those who love (or hate!) each other the most:

First - family members are all raised in the same way...or are they? Take a look at how some family members might be favored over others? Who gets away with blue murder, and who doesn't? Why is someone their father's favorite and another not? Who is unfairly treated and who is the princess/prince of the house? Even as adults, characters will harbor resentments (or over the top loyalty) depending on how their parents raised them.

Second - how do partners raise their children? Do they agree on discipline? Disagree? Do they disagree on where they should live, work, let the children go to school? What if one person listens exclusively to their parents and never to their wife/husband? There are many instances in a family unit to rub up against one another. Everything from divorce, custody battles, substance abuse problems, neglect to success, religion, sex and more.

Third - power struggles within families also create a great way to build tension. What happens when one family member wants power over another? Maybe a son trying to prove himself over his father? A mother trying to show how much more beautiful she is than her teenage daughter? A father trying to rule his house with an iron fist?

As you can see, there are many ways the family unit can build tension throughout the landscape of your novel, and you should make sure these elements are fully developed as they'll give your character a new level of depth, too.

Check in next month for my final tension post - love and romance!  

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