I searched high and low for a guideline for fiction writers to plot out the relationships between their characters and couldn’t find anything, so I created my own. Since this tool doesn’t seem to exist (or my googling skills are poor) I thought I’d share it so others might benefit. I find things like this enormously helpful when it comes to tricky parts in a story when I’m trying to figure out why two people are treating each other the way they are, how they might react in certain situations or how to move forward when their relationship is evolving. I also think it would be very useful when trying to define the relationship between a protagonist and an antagonist, especially if they know each other well. These would work best if you’ve already done individual chracter outlines.
Copy into the word processing document of your choice and fill in the blanks.
- First Person’s name:
- Second Person’s name:
- Current status of their relationship (friends, enemies, siblings, lovers, etc):
- Current feelings for each other:
- What was the First Person’s first impression of the Second?:
- What was the Second Person’s first impression of the First?:
- Describe briefly their first meeting:
- Have their first impressions changed since the first time they met? If so, how, and why?
- How long have they known each other?:
- How often do they see each other?:
- Where do they usually meet? What do they do?:
- Describe briefly a typical meeting or encounter:
- How do they speak to each other? (tone, language, feeling):
- Is their current relationship what the First Person wants? If not, what would they like to change?:
- Is their current relationship what the Second Person wants? If not, what would they like to change?:
- Does the First Person trust the Second? Why/why not?:
- Does the Second Person trust the First? Why/Why not?:
- What are some things they have in common?:
- What are some things they are opposite about?:
- What does the First Person like most about the Second?:
- What does the First Person like least about the Second?:
- What is the First Person’s favourite memory of the Second?:
- What’s the most hurtful thing the First Person has done to the Second? How did it make each of them feel?:
- What does the Second Person like most about the First?:
- What does the Second Person like least about the First?:
- What is the Second Person’s favourite memory of the First?:
- What’s the most hurtful thing the Second Person has done to the First? How did it make each of them feel?:
- What do they fight about?:
- How do they resolve their arguments?:
- What bonds them together? (common goal, mutual interest, etc):
- If their relationship is not already a romantic one, is there the possibility of romance between the First Person and the Second?:
- If so, why hasn’t it happened yet? What’s holding them back?:
- If romantic, which one pursued the other? How did he/she do it? How long did it take?:
- If romantic, how is their sex life? Do they both find it fulfilling? If not, why not, and what would they change?:
- What will their relationship look like in five years?:
- Is the intensity level of their feelings about each other the same, or does one like/dislike the other more?:
- Describe the defining moment in their relationship:
- Is there anything unusual or unconventional about their relationship?:
- Are they honest with each other? If not, what are they dishonest about?:
- Do they keep secrets from each other? If so, about what?:
- Are either of them jealous of each other? If so, about what?:
- Would the First Person die for the Second?:
- Would the Second Person die for the First?:
- How does the First Person think he/she has changed the Second?:
- How does the Second Person think he/she has changed the First?:
- What, if anything, does the First Person see of him/herself in the Second?:
- What, if anything, does the Second Person see of him/herself in the First?:
- What is the First Person blind about when it comes to the Second?:
- What is the Second Person blind about when it comes to the First?:
- What would it take for their relationship to become the opposite of what it is now? (ie: from lovers to exes, enemies to best friends):
If you find this as useful as I do, please let me know! I hope this writing exercise is helpful to other novelists out there who are trying to better define the relationships between their characters so that their writing can become more meaningful.
I’ve just put all this into a spreadsheet that people can download and fill out for themselves, if they’re so inclined. View and download relationship outline spreadsheet here. Feel free to share it with your other writer friends!
Good idea! I should fill these in so I don’t forget pieces of their lives (that you don’t really see) when writing, like the love interests parents names etc Thanks for the tip!
This is the one I used to keep track of all that stuff… super helpful too! http://www.epiguide.com/ep101/writing/charchart.html
I’m practically drooling at the sight of this. Me and outlines have a very long and loving history. Saving this right now! I just know it’s going to be incredibly helpful. Thanks for putting this together!
I’m glad you find it useful! 🙂
I printed it out, and carried it around during my Christmas break, but have yet to fill them out!