6 Exercises for Stronger Character Relationships

Yelizaveta P. Renfro

As writers, we can spend so much time “fleshing out” our characters as individuals that we forget about the connections between them. That’s why I love this piece by Yelizaveta P. Renfro that offers six concrete ways to think about your characters’ relationships. Here’s an example of one of the exercises:

Bury your characters. Imagine that your fictional family has purchased a cemetery plot that will hold twelve: two rows of six, one above the other. Draw out the plot and think about who will be buried where. Who is already buried there? For whom are the other spaces reserved? Who will be next to whom? Who gets the space under the oak? Who will not be buried in the family plot? Why? Think about the family politics underlying these choices. What kinds of monuments will the family choose to mark the individual graves? Imagine a scene taking place at the cemetery. Who is visiting the plot? Why? What happens?

If you like this prompt, you’re sure to enjoy the others. Click here to read Creating the Fictional Family: No Character Is an Island, featured in the latest Glimmer Train bulletin.

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Jane Friedman (@JaneFriedman) has 20 years of experience in the publishing industry, with expertise in digital media strategy for authors and publishers. She is the publisher of The Hot Sheet, the essential newsletter on the publishing industry for authors, and was named Publishing Commentator of the Year by Digital Book World in 2019.

In addition to being a columnist for Publishers Weekly, Jane is a professor with The Great Courses, which released her 24-lecture series, How to Publish Your Book. Her book for creative writers, The Business of Being a Writer (University of Chicago Press), received a starred review from Library Journal.

Jane speaks regularly at conferences and industry events such as BookExpo America, Digital Book World, and the AWP Conference, and has served on panels with the National Endowment for the Arts and the Creative Work Fund. Find out more.

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