Wednesday, November 21, 2012

A Simple Way to Deepen Your Character: Part Three

Happy Wednesday, my writing friends, 

The last couple weeks we’ve talked about how incorporating family into our stories can deepen our characters’ relationships, motives, and vulnerabilities. We talked about sisters last week. This week: brothers.


In the Bible, a handful of intense brother relationships spring up. The story of Jacob and Esau pops as one of the most intense. What can I learn from their relationship that will deepen my own characters?

One nugget is their rivalry for parents’ attention and affection. Mom loved Jacob best. Dad loved Esau. This planted jealous seeds in both which led to their defining conflict—the whole switched-inheritance thing.

When writing brothers, jealous rivalry flows naturally and can be the basis of a whole story—like in Steinbeck’s East of Eden.

Have you watched the TV series, Heroes? It’s addicting! And surprisingly, the whole show centers not around a romantic relationship, but instead, on Peter Petrelli and his brother Nathan. When I first realized this, I wondered how they could sustain a whole show around brothers. But it worked!

Peter and Nathan operated very differently. Peter exuded compassion, heart, and inner strength. Nathan preferred to be practical. He desired success and sometimes bent rules to get it.

Their juxtaposed personalities added incredible opportunities for character development. When Nathan lacked empathy, Peter filled that void. Nathan learned from Peter. And vice versa. When Peter got too wrapped up in his feelings, Nathan helped him see the clear direction. They bickered and wrestled along the way, but their brother-bond kept them turning to each other for help. 

What can I learn from this brotherly aspect of Heroes? Create brothers who are opposite, but who add strength to each other’s weaknesses. I can use this for both conflict and to build closeness.

Another show that featured a lot of brother relationships was One Tree Hill. The main characters, Nathan and Lucas Scott, grew up apart, but in high school, built a great relationship. They supported each other through the darkest heartaches. I admit the brother bond in this silly teen show inspired me. I liked seeing them encourage, listen, and cheer each other up. I liked how they overcame their conflicts and grew to forgive.  

What can I learn from One Tree Hill? Without forgetting the struggles of brothers, I can show the inspirational positive elements.

What are some ways you think brother relationships can build our characters? I’d love to hear.

God bless and happy writing,