Monday, February 20, 2017

4 Tips for Writing Realistic Sibling Relationships


Today we have a guest post from Go Teen Writers community member Abigail Wiley! Abigail has some suggestions for writing realistic sibling relationships:


Abigail Wiley is a writer, and a self proclaimed bookworm.She also loves making art, baking, drinking coffee, and hanging out with her younger siblings. Her favorite genre to write is fantasy, but she wants to give mystery a try sometime soon.

While every family is different and there are exceptions to all generalizations, here are some ideas for how to keep sibling relationships realistic in your stories:


1. The siblings in your story should pick on each other and look out for each other.

You know the sentiment, “I can make fun of my family, but you can’t make fun of my family?" Most (if not all) siblings make fun of each other to some degree. Usually they are just messing with each other. Depending on the circumstances, the insult may be forgotten almost immediately.

But if someone else picks on a sibling, the others tend to get defensive. Especially if this person is a bully. Unless you have set up a reason otherwise, make sure your siblings know how to tease each other … but also how to protect each other.

    2. Have your siblings push each other’s buttons

Similarly, siblings will go out of their way to annoy each other. Because they spend quite a bit of time together, they can be pretty good at it. Whatever annoys your character, his (or her) siblings already know about it. If your character’s siblings decide to get on his nerves, it shouldn’t take them very long.

3. Don’t forget to create unique personalities and talents for your siblings

Siblings are never exactly alike. They can even be opposites. One can be super introverted, while the other is the life of the party. Or one can be funny, while the other is serious.

You can also consider how their talents may or may not overlap. You could create siblings who are all a little artsy, but they like different mediums or styles of art. Or maybe they’re all athletic, but enjoy different sports.

An idea for showing character development through your main character's siblings is to show how your main character feels about his or her siblings' talents. Does he wish he had the same skills? Does he feel competitive?

4. Even if they don’t say it much, most siblings love each other.

Maybe your sibling characters aren’t the types to talk about how much they care for each other, but the feeling is still there. Consider showing the depth of their relationship through actions. Like a big sister doing her little sister’s hair for a birthday party, or one sibling giving another a pep talk when
they are nervous.

Does your main character have siblings? What's their relationship like?

25 comments:

  1. Thanks for the tips! I write a lot of sibling relationships, so they're quite helpful. That said, since some of the siblings are in a rather large polygamous family, their relationships are a little . . . different. The principles still hold, though. And I know I've got the unique personalities thing down, since that's what causes half the clashes!

    One question, though, for anyone who happens to be reading- any tips on writing an older brother/younger sister relationship specifically? One in which the characters aren't characterized by getting on each other's nerves (which I have no problem with) but something closer and more protective? Those are the relationships I feel like I have the hardest time with making both realistic and interesting.

    Thanks!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. One thing I would remember is that most siblings are ones who, if they weren't family, they would never hang out or really even know each others name. So older brother and younger sister are going to have completely different lives from each other, but no matter what he is doing, older brother will put it all on hold and come to his sister's aid if she needs him and the sister would do the same.

      Delete
    2. Another interesting thing to research would be birth order psychology, or the effects of birth order on personality, there are several articles that do a pretty good job of describing the tendencies of older and younger siblings.
      Personally, I have always been protective of my younger siblings, and I try to make time to play (or draw, or paint) with them when I can, unless, of course, they are really getting on my nerves.
      I hope this helps :)

      Delete
    3. @Bookishqueen and @Abigail Wiley: Thank you both very much for the advice! I appreciate it!

      Delete
    4. As someone who has a brother herself a few years older than her, I thought I'd explain mine. It's rather unique in that we're really close friends and confidantes (except, at times, we both doubt each other would understand what we're going through). He's the extroverted one and I feel obligated to protect him from embarrassment (which usually doesn't work). I'm more shy and tend to hide behind him and he feels obligated to put me in social situations (often quite forcefully. 'see that girl over there! Go talk to her! Compliment her hair or something!' he's of the opinion that girls make friendships much more easily and I'm just not trying). We also compliment each other a lot, often publically, and we often embarrass each other (sometimes intentionally >:3) with compliments. He's protective of me, I try to be protective of him but he brushes it off. Our relationship when we were younger was a lot more rocky since he would leave me in the dust, or wouldn't respect my feelings, etc. but over time and especially lonely seasons for both of us we grew closer. He liked to entertain me and put on sorts of silly little finger puppet shows and all that when he was little (he was bored 90% of the time and he found entertaining me to be much less boring). And yes, we tease each other a lot, but we also give each other loving advice and try to respect each other.

      That's basically all of it ^-^"

      Delete
  2. Hi Sarah! My male main character has a younger sister and they're pretty close. My advice:

    Think about times they end up being together, when the older brother has to be the responsible adult. My character takes the younger sister to and from school, which makes him very protective of her. Also, brainstorm if there is still any rivalry. For example, when visitors come they're going to be more interested in the cute little girl than the moody teenager, and in arguments parents will believe the younger, seemingly more innocent one. And finally, brainstorm how each sibling's friends think of the other sibling. Little Sister might use her cool older brother to boost her street cred. My friend finds it embarrassing mentioning her older brother because other friends always think he's hot and that irritates her.

    I'm not an expert on this or writing or anything these are just things I thought about with my characters! :-)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Thank you very much for the advice!

      Delete
  3. This is very helpful! I have three younger sisters of various ages. We are always nipping at each other's heels, but I know that if anyone ever tries being mean at all to them, I will literally punch them. I did once. :P

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad it was helpful :) I'm protective of my siblings to

      Delete
  4. My female protagonist is quite a few years younger than her two brothers. The elder, Adoniram, is protective of her and spends a lot of time with her since he is already alienated by his peers. Elkin, the middle child, is close with Adoniram but is jealous of his little sister for stealing all the attention away from how hard he works and his natural talent. The sister looks up to them both. Very helpful tips, Abigail! Some additional things I have found helpful is using birth order and age gaps to identify any special relationships that may occur and among which siblings. Thank you for pointing out that siblings both pick on and protect each other. It can be easy to create too perfect relationships or relationships dominated by constant attack.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm glad you liked it, I often use birth order to develop relationships in my writing as well :)

      Delete
    2. I love the name Adoniram! Great choice.

      Delete
  5. Great tips! My main character has eleven siblings (yeah...xD). I have five siblings (yeah...) and they definitely push my buttons. It's funny how I base a lot of character siblings off of my siblings, but it helps because I already know their personalities so well. :D

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yeah, I've done that as well (sometimes on accident, lol)

      Delete
  6. Great post. I just have a couple questions. How do you write a sibling relationship if the siblings did not grow up together? How do you write there is a big age gap between the siblings?

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Hmm... To be honest, I'm not really sure of the answer to your first question. As far as an age gap, I'd say that with several siblings those closer in age tend to be closer, if that helps.

      Delete
    2. What interesting questions! The interaction between siblings who never got a chance to be close would likely be cold and awkward. The exact relationship would depend on personality, but I would expect the younger sibling to either look up to the older sibling and want to be friends or be cowed to meet/interact with a stranger. The older sibling would be either friendly and fostering or disgusted with the younger's immaturity/clinging behavior. Those are just my thoughts on the matter, since I've never written under the circumstances you listed. Good luck on your sibling relationships, pgacn!

      Delete
  7. What a fun post! Thank you so much for sharing, Abigail!

    ReplyDelete
  8. This was really helpful and reminds me why my older sister and I are always picking on each other! I'd willingly punch someone in the face for insulting her, since, hey, that's my job! I do actually have one sibling relationship in my WIP. My main character has an older brother who turned on him when they were younger which is really hard for my main character since his older brother used to stand up and look out for him. In the end they reconcile but not in the way you'd think. ;) Thanks for sharing, Abigail!
    *Sarah

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. I'm happy it helped :)

      Delete
  9. Great idea for a post, Abigail! Thanks for sharing. :-)

    ReplyDelete
  10. In my WIP, the siblings are a bit teasing, but very loyal and protective and there for each other, no matter what. Thanks for this post!

    God bless, Anne Marie :)

    ReplyDelete
  11. This is perfect! I consider my brother one of my best friends, and this is spot on. :)

    ReplyDelete
  12. In my book, the younger sibling is the funny one, a lot of the times hysterical one, and the other is more serious. They like to have fun with each other and the older one tries to keep the younger one in line. The older sibling is one of the main characters. :)

    ReplyDelete

Home