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Thursday, October 21, 2010

More Author Insight: Relationship Troubles

What is the most difficult type of relationship to write – platonic, familial, or romantic – and why?

"I’d say platonic, though I’ve never tried familial and think it would be hard for me.  I think love drives most of our relationships, and with romantic love, it’s easy to call out, shift, break.  I think it’d be harder to write a story about strictly friendship or families." - Leah Clifford, author of A Touch Mortal.

Familial. They are fraught with drama and far too easy to write melodramatically. Finding the delicate balance and truth in a familial relationship is challenging, but oh so rewarding when you accomplish it." - Daisy Whitney, author of The Mockingbirds.

"I find the challenge with familial and romantic relationships is making sure they’re not too cheesy or stereotypical, but their rhythm and dialogue comes pretty easily.  Capturing the feeling, banter and camaraderie of close platonic relationships is much harder for me." - Jen Nadol, author of The Mark.

"I think that varies for each writer, but for me, romance is always the most challenging. Not because romance is more difficult to write, really, but because of all the societal expectations and assumptions placed upon that kind of relationship." - Jon Skovron, author of Struts & Frets.

"Romance, without a doubt, is the hardest for me to get right. Possibly because it’s so, well, personal. Still, when done right, it can be the kind of moment when a reader stops, gasps, and has to reread. I LOVE when a writer does that to me. I labored over the budding romance between Kat and Jack. When a blogger wrote in a review that she reread one of my lines “at least three times, because I just melted,” I was so happy and relieved. That kind of feedback is very gratifying." - Wendy Delsol, author of Stork. 

"I think it really depends on the piece you are writing - I would say familial. Mainly because the relationships between family members is so complex and family members can do the worst things to one another but still completely love each other. The nuances of family relationships are really difficult to capture. If you read Gennifer Choldenko's Notes from a Liar and Her Dog, she captures families so well." - Rebecca Maizel, author of Infinite Days.

"In young adult fiction specifically, I think that it’s the parental relationships that can be the toughest. Sometimes it’s hard to define the people who have raised your character to be the person he or she is. And since they play such a large role in teenagers’ lives, the presence of parents can sometimes present interesting plot dilemmas, too." - Kelly Creagh, author of Nevermore.


"Familial!!! I always seem to have heavy family oriented storylines in my books, but the scenes with the family are always the hardest for me.  Usually because they get pretty emotional." - Kody Keplinger, author of The DUFF.

"I spend more time on romantic scenes than any other kind, and they are the ones I re-write most often. It’s a challenge to locate the exact words and phrases that will convey the scene the way I see it in my head, without sounding corny, soppy, gross, hotsy-totsy, or worst of all – boring!" - Dianne Salerni, author of We Hear the Dead.

"I think romantic. I think this is because that one feels the most personal to me. I have more than one friend. I have more than one family member. But I've only had one true love--if you'll excuse the cheesy sentiment--and so, although my character and who they love are different from me and the man I love--I especially want to get the feel of the relationship right." - Ally Condie, author of Matched.

"Familial, for sure. I write a lot of parent and sibling antagonists, because family dynamics fascinate me as much as friend dynamics do, and symbolic parents (like Darth Vader) are powerful to me. But my family are my biggest fans and I wouldn’t want them to think I’m writing about them specifically. I used to wonder why a lot of YA features no parents, but now I think it’s partly because no writer wants their mom to wonder, 'Oh Gosh, is that mother in the book me?!'" - Phoebe Kitanidis, author of Whisper.


"Familial, for me. Families have such complicated dynamics, and my own family is extremely small and far-flung, which means I was never exposed to them first-hand. It's a challenge for me to write sibling relationships, for example, because I never experienced one." - Lia Habel, author of Dearly, Departed.

"I don’t find it difficult to write any kind of relationships if it feels authentic. Sometimes I’m in the mood to write a specific type of scene, which can make it easier to write about a particular relationship in the novel. (If I’m annoyed, it’s probably not the time to write a really romantic moment.) But the only time I have trouble actually writing a relationship scene is if it feels forced – when I’m trying to push the story or characters in a direction they wouldn’t naturally go." - Kami Garcia, co-author of Beautiful Creatures.

"I think familial is the most difficult to write. To me, it feels like it hits the truest side of the characters, since chances are they know each other very, very well. I have to know my characters even better, and then show the years of history between the characters without too much backstory or explanation." - Denise Jaden, author of Losing Faith.

"Platonic is the hardest for me, because there are fewer sources of natural conflict. You don't have the same kind of tension that a familial or romantic relationship has; the desires and fears and expectations are often less intense. However, I can certainly imagine platonic relationships with intensity and conflict."- Jennifer Hubbard, author of The Secret Year.

Come back Tuesday to learn what scares the authors most about the publishing industry.
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