How To Write Parents

How To Write Parents

Hey all and welcome to my vlog! My name is Erin and this is How To Write Parents. This is going to focus on the
parents of your characters as opposed to your characters as the parent with
dependent children. In so many stories the parents of your lead are either
incompetent, dead, or absent. I get it. It’s easier to not have to deal with them, but
not everyone comes from broken home or grows up an orphan or has horribly
abusive neglectful parents. Your character can still go on their
adventure and save the world if they have a supportive family. I’m here to
help you expand the parents in your story so that they feel like real people
in that role. First figure out how they feel about parenthood. Do they want to be
a parent? Did they become one by choice? And how did they adjust to it? There are
lots of circumstances that can occur that result in someone being a parent
when they don’t want to be. Figure out how and why they became a parent and how
that influences their behaviors and attitudes towards parenthood now. How
many children do they have? You’ll want to know how their circumstance have
changed between each child and where your character falls on the birth order.
Anyone with siblings can tell you that there is going to be a difference
between how each kid is parented. There’s also the family situation to consider.
What were the financial circumstances with each child and what kind of
supports were in place? Favoritism towards specific children might be present. Find out what the parents relationship is with each of their kids.
How involved are they in their kids lives and what is their opinion on each
of them? Do they agree with their choices? Do they approve or disapprove of the
person that their child has become? How did their relationships with their
children grow and evolve as their children grew and as circumstances
changed? Remember that big events from your character’s history are also
probably going to be a big part of the parents life. If your character lost a
parent then potentially that means that the other parent lost their life partner.
If your character suffered an injury or illness that affected them into
adulthood their parent was probably there watching their child suffer and
maybe taking care of them. Don’t forget about the impacts of these events on the
parents as well. If your kid almost dies there’s probably going to be a shift in
parental behaviors. What is the parents relationship with their partner and is
their partner the other biological parent? What kind of parent are they? Are they a
biological, adoptive, honorary, parent? If they are not the biological parent
what is their relationship to the biological parents?
What is the parents relationships to their partner? If the biological parents
are not together you will want to know what their relationship is like as well.
Parents are not sexless mannequins. Very often that aspect is ignored and usually
just because writers are lazy not because they have made the active choice
to make their characters asexual or give them some other reason for not
continuing a physical relationship. If there’s a single parent involved that’s
also going to have an impact on things. Are they going to be dating? Do they have
to get remarried? Do they prioritize their relationship over their children?
Who are they outside of their parent role? What do they like to do? What do
they do for work? What are their skills? Round them out. They’re not just a parent and
you don’t want them falling flat. Do you want them to have an active role in
the story? Parents might be an obstacle for your characters but they can also be
supportive and loving. They can be a driving force for the plot if you want
them to be because little else can fuck up a character like their parents.
What is your parent character’s history with their own parents and how does that
impact their lives and their own parenting style? If you’re including an
abusive parent then their own history could inform their actions. Abuse tends
to be a cycle that is passed down rather than it just being spontaneously
occurring. What kind of parent are they? You have tons of options here from
authoritarian to permissive, neglectful, overprotective, authoritative, etc. The
parenting style that you choose is going to be the foundation for your child
characters. It’s what they’re growing up in and what they may perpetuate as they
grow and what they may need to overcome. Let’s focus on your leads for a little
bit. How do they feel about their parents? What is their relationship with them and
what positive influences did their parents have and what negative
influences did their parents have on them? The difference between a character
calling someone mommy or mother is going to tip off your reader as to what their
relationship might be. Do the views of the relationship match between the
parent and child? Sometimes one side or the other have differing opinions as to
what the situation actually is. Intentions may not come across in
actions and perceptions could be way off base. Some parents are not free with their praise and while they may be internally
super proud of their child, their kid may never actually know and grow up thinking
that their parent doesn’t give a shit. Hopefully that helps you sort out these
characters a little bit. The parent-child relationship is very complex and
lifelong. The dead or absent parent can have as much influence as a living one
but there are a few circumstances out there that are going to allow you to
have an entirely parent-less cast. Try to have a variety of parent relationships
with all of your characters. Maybe one has crappy parents and the other one has
awesome supportive ones. Maybe some have mediocre parents and others have ones
that want to be amazing parents but circumstances doesn’t allow them to be.
Mix it up. So that’s all I got for you today. Thank you so much for watching. I
hope this video is helpful. If you liked it give it a thumbs up and don’t forget
to subscribe. If you’d like to be notified as soon as I upload then ring that bell. All my social media links will be in the description below. Both of my books Olympian Confessions: Hades and Persephone, Olympian Confessions: Hera
are available now in eBook and paperback. If you’d like your manuscript critiqued by
me you can check out my new critique service. Links to all of those
will be on my website below. If you’ve enjoyed my videos and learned something
from them consider being part of my patreon family. I will see you all
next week with another video. Bye!

7 comments / Add your comment below

  1. wow thank you for addressing something I think is often overlooked or done poorly! especially something I rarely give a second thought!

  2. I actually have the parents written into my YA novel very prominently, they are a huge factor in the story. I didn't realize that other writers often find an excuse of why the parents are absent. Now that I think of it, most of the books I read recently don't feature parents at all.

  3. This has given me a lot to think about. One of my characters' relationship with her mother is complicated to the point that it drives a side story by itself. I've been debating on several issues and your video has helped. Thanks. 🙂

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