And, on that cheery note of repeated and unnecessary assonance… 😛
WE WILL TALK ABOUT FAMILY!!! Fathers! Mothers! Sons! Daughters! Cousins! Aunts! Uncles! Nieces! Nephews! Grandparents! Great-grandparents! Great-great-great grandparents! (But only if you’re dealing in Elves, which is rare… sigh) Obscure relations to the fifth degree!!! (If you’re playing with Hobbits. ;-P)
All right, first thing you need to know: Every family is dysfunctional on some level. For instance, sibling rivalry. But not every family is called dysfunctional… don’t ask me why. Talk to CPS about that, okay? Child abuse is not what I’m talking about here…
Or maybe it is? Nevermind…
Though overactive child protection agency social workers pestering an innocent family might make a good plot… MWAHAHAHAHAHAHA!
Second thing you need to know: Families. Are. Important. Family background is one of the first things you should be thinking about when you begin character development. (The second thing is whether they like the Jays or not… shut up, Kysherin… sorry. My muse is a football fan and I’m not. I’d rather be playing it. Though she does have a point–is your character much of a bird watcher? :-P)
Father/son relationships. Mother/daughter relationships. Family dynamic as a whole. Who here is sick and tired of characters with family sob stories? *raises hand* Honestly, disobedient kids get old. REALLY fast. Hence, since so many Disney movies involve them, they are so last millennia! Though if you want to have a disobedient kid, go ahead. I’ll like him better if he has a healthy relationship with one parent at least, though. Anyway, people like respectful kids better than obnoxious brats; it’s a scientifically proven fact. Have your characters have a healthy relationship with at least one family member and you’ll have some background to go on. And someone to punch Sally Donovan in the face when she calls you a freak. (Aren’t kid sisters awesome, Sherlock? If only you canonically had one… sigh)
Besides, the family is not only a tool for pathetic backstory. It’s also a tool that you can use to indicate personality. Characters who are faithful to their families are trustworthy, kind-hearted, and willing. Characters who are not are lying cheats with no principles. This is how you make your villain; just have him stab his dad in the back.
Families also make a good catalyst for conflict. For instance, when family members don’t agree, it causes fiction–even if they do agree to respectfully disagree. And if a character has to make a difficult decision, like having to seemingly betray his/her family in order to save them… delicious.
And there are no happier endings than those that end safe and sound, beside a fire, in a room full of happiness.