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Examining the interactions between characters (as a revision tool)

An abstract image with scribbles, representing the editing process.

Characters are the lifeblood of any story, but they're not just stand-alone entities. They interact, they clash, they form relationships – in short, they do a lot of mingling. But how do these interactions shape your story? And how can you use them as a revision tool? Let's dive in and find out.

The role of character interactions in your novel

Character interactions are not just about dialogue or action – they're the threads that weave your story together. They reveal personality traits, motivations, and conflicts. They drive the plot and shape the narrative. In essence, they're the engine of your story.

Why examine character interactions in revision?

Characters don't exist in a vacuum. Their interactions with one another can tell you a lot about your story's strengths and weaknesses. Do your characters have chemistry? Is their dialogue believable? Do their relationships evolve in a way that makes sense? Examining these interactions can help you answer these questions and more.

How to examine character interactions in revision

Identify key interactions

Start by identifying the key interactions in your novel. These could be major plot points, turning points in character relationships, or scenes that reveal significant character traits.

Analyse these interactions

What do these interactions reveal about your characters and your story? Are they consistent with your characters' personalities and motivations? Do they advance the plot in a meaningful way?

Look for inconsistencies

Inconsistencies in character interactions can be a major red flag. If a character acts out of character or if their relationships evolve in ways that don't make sense, it can confuse readers and disrupt your narrative flow.

Revise based on your findings

Once you've analysed your character interactions and identified any issues, it's time to revise. This might involve rewriting scenes, tweaking dialogue, or even overhauling character relationships.

Tips for examining character interactions effectively

Character interactions can be complex and nuanced, but there are ways to make the examination process simpler and more effective. Here are some strategies to help you dive into the dynamics of your characters:

Focus on one character at a time

It can be overwhelming to try and map out all your characters' interactions at once. Instead, try focusing on one character at a time. Look at their interactions with other characters and how those relationships evolve over the course of the story.

Use a chart or diagram

Visual aids can be incredibly helpful in understanding character interactions. Consider creating a chart or diagram that maps out the relationships between your characters. This can help you see the bigger picture and identify any potential inconsistencies or gaps.

Don’t shy away from big changes

If something isn’t working, don’t be afraid to make substantial changes. This could mean rewriting key interactions, changing a character’s reaction, or even altering a character’s personality or backstory to better fit the narrative.

Look for patterns

Patterns in character interactions can reveal a lot about your story. For example, if one character is consistently dominating conversations, what does that say about them? About the power dynamics in your story?

Consider the emotional arc

Character interactions shouldn’t just serve the plot; they should also contribute to the emotional arc of your story. Do the interactions between characters reflect their emotional states and growth?

Unleashing the power of character interactions

Character interactions are more than just the sum of their parts – they're the heart and soul of your story. By examining them closely in revision, you can ensure that they're doing their job effectively, driving your plot, revealing character, and engaging your readers. So don your detective hat, grab your magnifying glass, and start examining – your story will thank you for it.