Relationship between two characters and one powerful item in between them.

by Roger
(Springfield, Massachusetts)

Question: I love your site! It is exactly what I needed to get started on a book I have always put on the "someday" shelf. And it's been going pretty well, but I have this one question that pertains to two characters and their relationship to each other in regards to a powerful item.


Ok, so anyway, the characters are two brothers who's family died. The older one(we'll name him Mark) is strong, both in will and muscle, and very determined to one day avenge his family. The younger one(we'll name him Jim) is more laid-back and playful, but admires his brother and wants to help him. Anyway, Jim stumbles upon an item of great power(a dragon egg) while Mark is out saving his town from the bad guys. He takes it home, and this is where my question starts.

Should Mark be angry with Jim and tell him to get rid of the egg, becasue it should be destroyed?
Should he be on board with Jim and be curious about the egg, and want to keep it safe?
Should Jim not tell Mark for fear that he might disapprove?
Should Jim tell Mark that he should have it, because Mark is more skilled than him, and the egg MUST stay safe?

Anyway, by the end of that act, the villains will have discovered that Jim had the egg and they send dragons to destroy the city, killing many people including Jim. My goal is to have Mark feel bad for Jim, want to protect the egg, and go off on his quest to avenge his brother's death.

So I am mostly wondering what is the best way for me to get from point A(Jim finds the egg) to point B(Mark has the egg and starts his quest), considering the character's personalities. Or should I not even include this part. It's supposed to be a character defining time for Mark, but would it do better without it?

Thanks, Glen

Answer: You should know there's no right or wrong answer here, and I can't tell you how to write your story.

However, whatever choices Jim and Mark make here will be a product of their characters and their relationship. That's what you must focus on.

There's two ways to go about designing characters. Sometimes you have a strong sense of what your story is about and what you want your characters to do, so you design your characters to be the kind of people who would act in a way that fits the story.

The other approach is to work on developing a set of contrasting characters who are unique and interesting and then let the story emerge out of their choices.

It sounds like you're taking the former approach.

So make a list of all the questions you have about these characters. You might start with things like why Mark would be so keen to avenge his brother, even when his brother brings death upon himself by stupidly bringing home a dragon egg. Is this the first stupid thing Jim has done? Why does Jim take such risks? What is he hoping to achieve? Is it typical of Mark to take responsibility for his brother? Why? What does Mark hope to accomplish by this act of vengeance?

Notice these are "why" and "what" questions, not "should" questions. That's because "why" is more open-ended and invites possibilities.

Brainstorm all the possible answers you can think of to these and any other questions you can think of. Be willing to take some time to think about this. The right answers will come to you.

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