March 05, 2021, 12:35:29 AM

Author Topic: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?  (Read 752 times)

Offline TheEighthRenewal

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Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« on: January 02, 2021, 10:24:29 AM »
There's a chapter in my book that mostly serves to show the reader the relationship between two people. It's important mostly for the sequel, so that when you see the relationship between the two of them then, you're not surprised.

But I'm wondering if it's worth getting rid of the chapter and just finding different ways to show their relationship in other parts of the book. They don't have very much interaction in this one.  What do you think?

Offline ScarletBea

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #1 on: January 02, 2021, 10:47:57 AM »
This is an interesting question, I'm going to reply as a reader-only, leave the technicalities to other writers.

I'm all about the characters, so if this chapter revealed interesting things about them, at the same time as giving hints of something different, something to come in the future, then I'd say keep it.
However, if it leaves the reader wondering why that scene is there, if there's nothing related to the events around them, then maybe it's better to try and show that relationship in another way?
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #2 on: January 02, 2021, 10:52:13 AM »
The best way to show the relationship not as a separate part but as a part of the story. A whole chapter that does nothing but establish a relationship is most likely going to be a tough read because it will lack the fundamental components that make people want to read on. Two of the core concepts of storytelling are movement and change. While not every single sentence or paragraph need to include them, they definitely need to be present in a chapter as a whole. So my advice would be to find a way to present the relationship as a part of the ongoing story. And story is created from the inside out, meaning what happens (the plot) is less important than how the character(s) feel about it, react to it, and change internally as a result.

I hope that helps. Feel free to ask specific questions about what I mean as this only touches the surface, and I don't have the time to write a whole essay (though I really ought to sit down and do just that!)

Offline eclipse

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #3 on: January 02, 2021, 11:41:22 AM »
I recently watched Greyhound a Tom hanks second world war film , I enjoyed it but there was no character development,
Spoiler for Hiden:
a close friend of the captain died but I felt nothing as the character building of the friend was non existent I felt nothing, also the captains girlfriend who he was going to propose too at the end of the film seemed just like an afterthought. The film would have been a lot better if there had a gone into more details of the characters 
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Offline Magnus Hedén

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #4 on: January 02, 2021, 12:02:20 PM »
Yes, character development is essential because story is about internal change, and for us to be engaged as readers (or viewers), we need to connect with the characters so that the things that matter to the characters matter to us. But as important as that connection is, it doesn't accomplish anything on its own -- that's where movement and change come in. Things have to happen and the characters need to react to them externally (by taking action, making choices) and internally, (by going through emotional changes). That being said, the things that happen don't have to be huge; the important thing is that they matter to the character(s) and that we understand why.

Offline TypesWithHammers

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #5 on: January 02, 2021, 02:29:05 PM »
When you say they don't have much interaction, is it just backstory or are they both present in the scene?

Generally, the scene/chapter has an entry point and an exit. Establish those, then build in the relationship development as you move between those points. Character is story, so put it to good effect by moving the plot forward, even in a small way. As long as the reader is drawn along the path of the story, your words will not have gone to waste. [I love the relationship building parts, and dialogue will always help this.]

Offline TheEighthRenewal

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #6 on: January 02, 2021, 08:55:12 PM »
This is all pretty much what I was thinking as I go through my final edit. I ended up incorporating the scene with another scene that does move the action, and cut some parts that were not really developing anything.

I had the same feeling as all of you; that it can really hurt the flow of the story

This is an interesting question, I'm going to reply as a reader-only, leave the technicalities to other writers.

I'm all about the characters, so if this chapter revealed interesting things about them, at the same time as giving hints of something different, something to come in the future, then I'd say keep it.
However, if it leaves the reader wondering why that scene is there, if there's nothing related to the events around them, then maybe it's better to try and show that relationship in another way?

The reader's input is fairly important I believe! Especially if we're trying to sell it to you haha.

This however was the first flag I saw when I was rethinking about the scene. 

Offline TheEighthRenewal

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #7 on: January 02, 2021, 08:57:04 PM »
When you say they don't have much interaction, is it just backstory or are they both present in the scene?

Generally, the scene/chapter has an entry point and an exit. Establish those, then build in the relationship development as you move between those points. Character is story, so put it to good effect by moving the plot forward, even in a small way. As long as the reader is drawn along the path of the story, your words will not have gone to waste. [I love the relationship building parts, and dialogue will always help this.]

My books are mainly character and dialogue driven, and I do rely on the readers getting involved and enjoying the banter between the characters.

Offline Peat

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #8 on: January 02, 2021, 08:57:17 PM »
I am down for a chapter that's mostly about a relationship, but for it to work, it needs to be more than that. It needs to be about the relationship and something else at the same time? What else can you put into the chapter?

(Well, okay, needs is strong... will be really helpful though).
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Offline cupiscent

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #9 on: January 02, 2021, 10:51:43 PM »
Great discussion and advice here already. I have nothing new to add. :D I concur that relationship development is vital, but should not be all that a scene is doing. (Ideally, no scene should ever be doing only one thing. You want to be developing as many as possible of theme, character, relationship, plot, worldbuilding, mystery, tension, etc.) But especially if you want big pay-off from that relationship, you need to put the effort into establishing and developing it.

Offline CameronJohnston

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #10 on: January 05, 2021, 08:49:40 AM »
Sure, it's fine to have a whole chapter like that as long as it is interesting and reveals more about your characters. If it's merely fun side-fluff and serves little purpose you might want to look at cutting it out and breaking it up to sprinkle that information through other scenes where more is happening.

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Offline K.S. Crooks

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #11 on: January 10, 2021, 03:14:04 PM »
Without knowing what your story is about it's a little hard to comment. I like too write adventure stories. For me a chapter focused on relationships can be a needed calm after a lot of action or an event with serious consequences, like the death of a character. In any story you want the reader to care about the characters. There is no right or wrong way to do this.
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Offline J.R. Darewood

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Re: Is a relationship building chapter ever okay?
« Reply #12 on: January 11, 2021, 04:21:29 AM »
There's a chapter in my book that mostly serves to show the reader the relationship between two people. It's important mostly for the sequel, so that when you see the relationship between the two of them then, you're not surprised.

But I'm wondering if it's worth getting rid of the chapter and just finding different ways to show their relationship in other parts of the book. They don't have very much interaction in this one.  What do you think?

I would say "why wouldn't it be?"

I think for me questions would be:
* Does it negatively impact the rise and fall of tension in the book as a whole?
* Does it negatively impact the book's pacing?
* Does it contrast tonally with the other chapters?

If the answer to any of these is "yes" you could certainly blend the relationship building into other parts of the book, but there are probably fixes that would allow you to keep the chapter as well.

Another consideration: relationships will change in subtle ways in every interaction, so I even if you have a relationship-building chapter, the other chapters will most definitely be affected by it and affect the relationship further, so it doesn't let you off the hook from thinking about relationships in the rest of the book.

Just my thoughts on the matter.