This week’s video shows you how to find your story by finding your story’s most important relationship–and then putting it to work.
I think most writers would agree that the core of any story is its characters—and not just characters, but the interaction between characters. It’s in these interactions that we really discover who these characters are. These interactions are the single best way to show readers who these people are, as opposed to just telling them.
In every story, there’s almost always going to be one particular relationship that makes the story tick. So today I want to talk about, first, identifying that relationship and, then, ensuring you’re making the most of it.
How do you know which is the most important relationship in your story?
Hopefully, it’s the relationship that gets the most screentime, but that’s not necessarily the best way to identify it. The first question to ask yourself is always, “Which relationship are you most interested in?” Which is the most fun to play with? Which are you getting the most lively banter from? And just as importantly, which supporting character is having the biggest impact on the plot?
Figuring out the most consequential relationship in your story is important because doing so will help you find the heart of your story and focus your narrative there, instead of taking rabbit trails or spending too much time on a relationship that may not really be that interesting or important.
Once you’ve identified your big relationship in the story—whether it’s romantic, familial, friendly, or even antagonistic—your next step is to take a good look at your overall story and evaluate how much screentime that relationship is getting and how central it is to the story. Sometimes we can start out writing a romance—in which the love interests are the obvious central relationship—when really the plot is being driven by a friendship. Paying attention to the central relationship in your story will help you figure out what story you’re really telling and how best to go about it.