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    While I am not a professional by any means, I have been writing for many years and, more recently, beta-reading as well. In all of my experience, I've noticed that a lot of to-be authors follow the easy trends and miss out on some great story telling opportunities. Hopefully this guide will help you improve your story and learn that the easy way out isn't always the best! If you would like more writing guides and tutorials, check out the description below.

    For this "Quick Tips" entry, I'm going to focus on an important part of back story: parents.

    *Please note! I understand that, unfortunately, not everyone reading this has parents. If your parents have passed away or are otherwise absent, please forgive anything written here that might be considered upsetting. These scenarios are for fictional parents only and when I say "dead", I do not mean it to sound nearly as insensitive as it does.

   So let's get started. How are your character's parents doing today? They're probably dead, am I right? Or on a permanent vacation to a different country? Absent without reason? Well if so, this guide is for you.

   Most often when somebody creates a character, there are a few questions they have to answer before they can call their character complete. What do they look like? Where are they from? How do they act? And of course, where are their parents? Many, many, many people like to play that last one easy and write the parents off as dead or gone. Well, I've read one too many stories where the fourteen year old main character is living alone in their own apartment because their 'rents up and left for Jamaica. Hence, this "lesson".


Other Alternatives to Parental Removal


    A lot of our writing is affected by our own lives and, because of this, we often limit ourselves to what we know. If your parents are together and happy, you might make it so for your character. If your parents are always nagging and bothering, you might lift the burden from your character by removing the parents. But please, consider some of these other (common and not so common) parental scenarios. 

         Two working parents. 
         One working parent, one stay-at-home.
         Two stay-at-home parents. (Laid off? Work from home?)
         Two divorced parents. (Equal visitation rights.)
         Two divorced parents. (Live with one, visit other.)
         One divorced parent. (Other completely absent.)
         Three or four parents due to divorce and remarriage.
         One parent due to death.
         One parent due to conception out of wedlock.

    Obviously there are many more scenarios, but each one listen here has endless possibilities. Two working parents? Does the fact that they both work allow them to spend a good amount of time off as well? Does their work keep them so wrapped up that they don't have time for their children? Or if they're divorced, how does that change your character's life? Does going between homes constantly wear on their mind? Do they prefer one or the other? Does either have a new spouse? Does your character like that spouse? What about more kids? If one parent died, has the other gotten over the death or does it drag them down daily? Was your character born to a teenage mom? If so, how does that change their relationship, if at all?

Why Parents are Important


    Parents have the ability to shape our lives more than anyone else out there. We look up to them when we're little and they teach us tons and tons of stuff. Your character is a person too, and there is so much they can learn from their parents. Use this to your advantage!

Think about this: John is a straight A student. Why? Well lets take a look at his parents. 
   
    Scenario 1: Johns parents are both extremely intelligent and graduated college with the highest of marks. They constantly harp on him about being a great student because they couldn't bear the thought of raising a drop-out.  He's struggling in math but he's scared to tell his parents because they would be livid. They want him to join the honor society club in school and take educational extracurriculars, but what he really wants to do is play in the band. He can't because of his time restraints, though, and he knows that if he brings it up to his parents they'll get mad and tell him that music is a waste of time. End result? John is very smart but very stressed. He doesn't feel satisfied with his life and he feels like he's trapped. 
   
    Scenario 2: John's parents are divorced. His dad took off with another woman and hasn't called in ten years, and his mom is working two jobs and is under a ton of pressure. John studies hard and gets great marks to bring home to his mother in the hopes that it will make her smile. Because making her proud is so important to him, John doesn't mind the extra work that it takes to keep up his grades. Eventually he decides that he wants to join the school band, but he is afraid his grades will suffer. His mother, who always sees him working hard to make her happy, encourages him to do what he wants. John joins the band and loves it, and though he doesn't have as much time to study, he is able to keep his grades up because of his determination. End result? John is very smart and only a bit stressed. He feels satisfied with life and is able to keep himself and his mother happy.
   
    Scenario 3: John's parents are divorced and remarried. Both have new children. John works hard to make excellent grades in the hopes that his parents will notice him. The work is stressful and at first his parents seem impressed, but as time goes on they don't seem to notice his efforts. When he tells them he wants to join the band they let him, but neither of them show up to his first big performance. Eventually the disappointment gets to him and he finds himself giving up. His grades drop substantially. When his parents find out, they are extremely upset with him. He decides that the only way to get their attention at all is to do something that makes them mad, so as retaliation he starts seeking out trouble and getting in fights. End result? John is smart but doesn't use it to his advantage. He gets in trouble a lot and becomes an angry person, unhappy with life and looking to take it out on others.

    Ta-da! Three different scenarios. You can start out with the same character, but the way they are raised will no doubt change the person they become in the long run. Maybe the changes won't be as drastic as in the scenarios, but the changes will be there. 

    Of course your parents aren't the only people in the world capable of changing your life, but they are the first ones that get the chance. If your character's parents die, this will obviously change their life, but only once. In writing, one big change often doesn't hold the impact of small changes that happen over time. 

Lastly


    I'm not saying that you absolutely can't have dead parents. As sad as it is, it does happen. Just keep in mind that, unless it's relevant to the story, it's probably not necessary. There are so many other options! If your characters parents are dead, try to keep in mind the effect that can have on them mentally. If the parents died when your character was very young, they probably won't be as upset by it as they would if the death was recent. Also, just because your character's parents have died or are otherwise absent doesn't mean your character has to hate the world and avenge their deaths. Maybe they just live with their grandparents and that's how it's always been. 

    The main thing that I want you to take away from this is just because you don't want to write about parents doesn't mean you have to kill them. You probably don't write about each person that your character walks by in the mall, but they're there. Embrace the parents!
Another writing lesson that I've had in the back of my mind for a while now. I'd love to hear your thoughts on the entire subject, so please comment below! Also, tell me about your character's parents! :D

I have to admit, I feel a little silly writing this when the main character of my most important story (Kitaru) doesn't have parents. However, I made that decision years and years and years ago and it is so ingrained in the importance of the story now that I can't change it. Like I said, though, if dead parents are important to the story, they're not always a bad thing.

If you have any suggestions for writing lessons, please let me know! I'd be happy to consider it.

If you found this helpful, Check out my other writers guides and lessons here! I will be doing more in the future, so feel free to watch me too! <3

Please help support me as a writer! If you enjoy my writers guides, all I ask is that you take a moment to read some of my own work. I'd love to hear what you think!

Demonika Ch. 1                I suppose I should have known from the start that the girl I found sitting in a dark, damp alley that night so long ago was a demon. Perhaps I was too young to put two and two together, or maybe I was too angry at my parents to care. I had only been ten for a few days, if I recall correctly, and I had just gotten into an awful fight with my father. I had looked to my mother for help but, to my dismay, she took my father’s side. They were both strictly against me going into magic.
                Ten was an important age for me; it was an important age for any youngster who desired a future in the magic arts. There was a yearly event attended by every magic loving ten-year-old around. Skilled mages arrived at the event in dramatic manners, appearing out of thin air or emerging from colums of fire, to speak with the children and find an apprentice. I had yearned to be one of th
Bad Luck Ch. 1       Half of the day had passed and Zane still lounged in his bed, staring at the ceiling between long, slow blinks. He was in a terrible mood. The source of his foul mood was the cell phone that blinked innocently beside him or, perhaps more accurately, the voicemail it had recited some hours ago. Another singer and their frail excuses for quitting the band. It was enough to drive anybody mad, really.
       For most problems, Zane simply turned to his guitar for consolation, but this problem couldn’t be solved by music. So instead he continued to lay in his bed and contemplate the unfairness of it.
       Zane had been playing guitar since he was old enough to strum. His lessons had started at age five and ended at ten, when his parents decided they’d had enough of his obsession with music and his time would be better spent on studies. Through the help of his ever supportive godfather, Zane still managed to lea
Arlyn of the Ocean                My childhood summers were filled with the salty air and sea shells of the Gulf, my favorite place to relax and play. I vividly remember the cold ocean water splashing at my ankles and the taste of the popsicles we ate between bouts of play. I collected hundreds of sea shells and made magnificent sand castles, dug holes as deep as I was tall and even caught a few fish. What I remember most of all, though, was Arlyn.
                The first summer I spent with my aunt was an entirely new experience; I had never seen the beach or played in salt water before. She coaxed me gently toward the water, armed with an array of floaties and toys. I followed her cautiously, reassured by her claims that I wasn’t meaty enough to interest any of the ocean’s monsters. I figured she had to be right; I weighed next to nothing as a scrawny, awkward ten-yea
Tyler's Fight       As fast as he was running, he should have expected to trip. When he did it startled him, and he tried to protect his face as he went down on the rough gravel. He hit the ground hard, but managed to roll and dissipate some of the force. It didn’t take long for his pursuers to catch up.
       “We told you running was pointless, slut.” Josh, the group’s leader, kicked Tyler hard in the shin as he struggled to get up. Tyler didn’t see Raine with the group, for which he was glad. He gritted his teeth and stood.
       “Why won’t you just leave me alone? I want nothing to do with you or Raine,” he begged, his heart pounding. He stepped back and winced at the pain in his leg. He really wasn’t made for physical confrontation. 
       “You never should have touched her in the first place.” Josh spat on Tyler’s shoes and turned his b
FamilyMommy chases pills
with whiskey, beer, and wine.

Daddy finds his happiness
in a snow white cocaine line.

Sissy slams the door
and goes to find another life.

That leaves me alone,
canvas skin and red pen knife.
Add a Comment:
 
:iconhobbywriter:
HobbyWriter Featured By Owner Apr 28, 2015  Hobbyist Writer
I have a habit of killing my protagonists' parents, which is really odd, as most of them are teenagers. However, they do seem to react to it differently. I enjoy your tutorials. You have thought them out very well and not one word seems random. No problem if I use you as an indirect mentor of sorts?
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 9, 2015  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Certainly! I'm glad I can be of some help :D
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:iconoh-windrunner:
Oh-windrunner Featured By Owner Feb 21, 2015
"...just because you don't want to write about parents doesn't mean you have to kill them." That's just perfect. XD (For a while there you had me questioning whether or not I should kill my main character's parents...and then I realized that was the biggest reason the plot moved.)
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:icontalldarkhorse:
TallDarkHorse Featured By Owner Aug 17, 2014
Great tutorial. The scenarios you used really help explain how the character starts the same way but ends up differently. I definitely think out my characters' family lives to get them to where they are. You're right that there's a variety of family situations out there, and the "MIA parents" are very common, especially for beginning writers. It seems easy, but it would affect the characters. I'm just glad you explained it so concisely, and will be happy to link back to this in my writing group. :)

As for my characters, I do have one parent death, but it helps explain how his family drifted apart over time, and how he is more aware of mortality than most of his peers. He is surrounded by friends who have living and present parents as well, so it adds some contrast.

I'm interested to read more of your tutorials and writing now!
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:icontheemptychest:
TheEmptyChest Featured By Owner Apr 1, 2014
Very well thought-out and well written tutorial, and I think you make a good point about up-and-coming writers missing out on opportunities -- particularly character development opportunities -- by making their character's parents either dead or unexplainably gone. In my experience, they do this because it gives their characters the freedom they need to go be a superhero or whatever it is they need to be without having pesky things like homework and curfew in the way. But still, it's not like you can't do anything with a superhero kid who has those setbacks. In fact, I would find such a kid more believable and sympathetic.

One must also consider that when a kid's parents die, realistically said kid is either taken in by another family member or becomes a ward of the state, so there's always an authority figure present, whether it's a parent or not. Honestly I think it's easier and makes more sense to write the parents in, even if they're busy or emotionally detached.
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:iconwonhitwonder:
WonHitWonder Featured By Owner Dec 31, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Excellent tutorial.  I have one of my own dedicated to deciding whether or not it's a good idea to orphan a character, and I like how you gave lots of possible alternatives to work with instead of just killing off parents.  Glad it's not just me that doesn't like this trope!
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Jan 11, 2014  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Glad you enjoyed it! :D
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:iconzwerg8:
zwerg8 Featured By Owner Nov 16, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is really an interesting and very reasonable study.. After all, to be plausible persons, characters need some family background as well.

I thought that all my major characters should have at least one parent - so in the prologue to my ongoing project "Mirror Visions" I got rid of the real mother of my protagonists, but had their father introduce their later step-mom. So there's tensions between the kids and their stepmother, loss of trust toward their father, and other conflicts.
And the best friend of one of my protas has only her mother as parent (her father was declared Killed In Action), who works three jobs to get even - and who is pretty lenient towards her only daughter (which has reasons though).

In the nanowrimo project I'm currently working at (introduced as an idea here), two characters, who work at the "House of Maids", were adopted by their au-pair host family: Their real parents abandoned them for being LGBT. :(
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very nice! Good luck on Nanowrimo. I've never been able to finish T^T
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:iconzwerg8:
zwerg8 Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Tbh I won't be able to finish either - I only have 6 handwritten DIN A4 pages so far, which is way less than the wordcount necessary to "win" the Nanowrimo.
However, I started with the approach "Let's see how far I can get" anyways - and even those 6 pages are more than I thought I would manage to write. :)
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:iconthewhitejewel:
TheWhiteJewel Featured By Owner Nov 6, 2013
What an interesting study. This is strangely intriguing and food for thought.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Nov 18, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I'm glad you enjoy it =]
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:iconmelima22:
Melima22 Featured By Owner Nov 4, 2013  Student General Artist
Interesting
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:icontaschasan:
Taschasan Featured By Owner Jul 12, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
Oh yes, this tutorial is so awesome!
I love it. Maybe the population of conveniently-orphaned-kids is going to be decreased by some time... Seriously, it just annoys me to no end to have dead or otherwise absent parents in every second (non-)fan-fiction. (Except for war-time or close post-war-time scenarios, but still...) And if they aren't dead they're mostly total (excuse the language) jackasses. Well, of course parents tend to be annoying (especially when you're a teenager, but still...(again)), but most of the time you tend to live with them in peace. Or at least I hope so. It's actually possible if everyone is working on it.

(This is what most people probably don't want to hear, but you're going to end up like them or take great traits from them. Or (try to) be completely different. )
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:icondarkflame728:
Darkflame728 Featured By Owner Jun 20, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
I tend to think of the parents last since they aren't directly involved in some of my stories, but now I think it would be a good idea to go back into my notes and write a bit more about how the parents effect my character's life, especially since he will talk more about them in the future as my story progresses. :)
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:icongallowxy:
gallowxy Featured By Owner May 24, 2013
This tutorial is really helpful, I will definitely use it with further characters. I find all that psychology (family and otherwise) really interesting the more I see/think about it...

So, my characters' parents! That's complicated. In my favorite story (that I've also gotten the farthest on) I have two main characters, Holly and Jake. Holly has a brother who is a year or two older, who I'm leaning toward calling Parker (I haven't named all my characters or figured out their details :/). They live with their dad, who is an alcoholic but who they have a close relationship with, even if is not that involved in their lives. (They are not very "high-income" either.) Their mom (who was not married to their father) left when they were very small, so they lived with their grandma for a time before she died and they went back to living with their dad in his apartment. Holly is kinda depressed because of this and other things. So.

Jake is an only child. his father works a lot, so doesn't spend much time with him. His mother dotes on him and is a bit overprotective, which annoys him. His parents are pretty well off, but he still gets in a lot of trouble trying to be cool.

Haha I realize that I just went into the whole family, history, and family history of my characters instead of just their parents, but, well, it was kind of necessary to get the whole picture. So yeah, as you can probably see, I've spent way more time on Holly than on Jake. Any suggestions for enriching his character, or do you think that would just make all the history too complicated?

Thanks for the tutorial, for reading all this, (and for maybe giving me advice!)
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:icon1deathgod:
1deathgod Featured By Owner May 23, 2013  Hobbyist Writer
Very well done. I have nothing to add.

As for parents, where to start? I suppose I could just talk about the characters that have been on my mind the most recently. They're a set of twins, and boy and a girl. The boy's name is Wil and the Girl's name is Madeleine. Their parents were involved in what can best be described as a rebellion, though it's much more complicated than that. Anyway, they were committing crimes that in the eyes of their kind were far more sever than murder. When Wil and Madeleine are roughly eight years old, their parents get caught and executed. From this point onward, the twins have to compete in a world that is against them because of the crimes their parents committed and taught them to commit.

You can probably tell I had a lot of fun coming up with the back story here.:D
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:iconbadtouchtriomiyazaki:
BadTouchTrioMiyazaki Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
This was really helpful for me, as I've just realized recently that I tend to kill off the mother of my characters and make the father a complete jackass(please excuse the language). This tends to have a huge affect on my characters, as most of them are male and I think they would look towards their father's as their role models, but nonetheless, I think I have to change my outlook towards the mothers. Now the problem is, just how to go about doing so...
Anyway, thank you again for the advice!
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Language excused xD There are always other things that could make a person a jackass. I imagine someone would be more angry about a divorce than a death. Death is sad, but divorce makes people bitter.
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:iconbadtouchtriomiyazaki:
BadTouchTrioMiyazaki Featured By Owner Jun 28, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
True...That's very helpful, thank you~ I'll take your suggestion into consideration~
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:iconxxhunneh:
xxHunneh Featured By Owner May 18, 2013
Hello! I find this really helpful (and I have what I've read here has actually helped me a LOT in my writing!)

But I was wondering
Would it be okay if I linked back to this in my tutorial 'How Not To Sue'? It's a guide I'm making that has to do with avoiding a Mary Sue, and I came across a bit where I discovered 'Oh snap, I can't explain parents.' and remembered your lovely writing lesson! It's alright if you don't! If you don't, would you mind me using this as a guide to figure out how to explain?
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 19, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Please do! And I'd love to read it when you're done ^^
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:iconmirz-alt:
mirz-alt Featured By Owner May 14, 2013   General Artist
In my series, I have dead parents, but instead of the characters dealings with that, the focus was on how they had to deal with their adoptive/foster families. Also, to help balance that out, the supporting character all have regular parental units, so you still get that balance.

Family relationships, particularly those with your own parents, are some of the most interesting to explore and can make some of the best drama. Goodness knows we all have own family dramas. I think writers miss out on that by just wiping out the protagonist's family so they don't have to deal with them in the story.
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:icontempest-projects:
Tempest-PROjects Featured By Owner May 6, 2013  Student Writer
This is interesting. Makes you think about how often people opt them out.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Thanks! It also made me think of how many options there really are! I think most of us tend to forget that parents don't always follow the "both or none" rule.
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:icontempest-projects:
Tempest-PROjects Featured By Owner May 7, 2013  Student Writer
Yeah, I usually try include one (or both) of them as a plot device, sometimes works in my favor.
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:iconnoreias:
Noreias Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is amazing! I've recently been thinking of how a lot of my characters need parents! Although, one character gets abducted into another world, while the other gets resurrected so... maybe I didn't do such a bad job there :D
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Well in those cases, I don't think parents are especially important! They sound like interesting characters though :D
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:iconangelicuscadere:
AngelicusCadere Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
A few months ago, I realised most of my characters from the biggest story I am working on lived in a social vaccum: no parents, no siblings, no friends; just the main cast.
Determined to change that, I reflected on each of the four main characters relations; one came from a poor neighbourhood in a time when birth control didn't exist; he was probably going to have a huge family. The other was a bastard, but was her mother still her dad's domestic? Did her dad have other, legitimate children? One had a small family, the last did not talk to his family anymore, but he would still have some siblings. Seing as he was a scientist and a postgraduate student, he ought to have friends despite his shyness, didn't he?

And that's how my cast grew and grew and grew to reach over 60 characters, and it's still growing.

I find your writing lessons really useful, by the way.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Very glad to hear it! I did something similar as well. I started a story when I was younger that was just me, three friends, and my imaginary "dream guy" going on adventures. Over time they all became completely their own people and now they have friends and family and histories and holy cow. It's come a long way! I have so many characters in that story now that I don't even know what to do with them all x.x

I'm glad my lessons are useful though! :D I don't know if you've seen it, but this one in particular might help if you're still trying to figure out the ins and outs of your main characters ^^
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:iconangelicuscadere:
AngelicusCadere Featured By Owner May 15, 2013  Student Traditional Artist
I never had a story in which I was involved, but I just have to think of the story I wanted to write in elementary school to be horrified with the Mary Suesque characters and plotline...
Ah! I've went a long way since then!
And oh I wish I had the time to do such exercices, but college is eating up my whole life. At least, I've figure out quite some things about most of my main characters: they occupy so much place in my head it's hard not to devellop them XD
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:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 4, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
[A lot of our writing is effected by our own lives]
Don't you mean 'affected?' *shrug*

Anyway, I've always taken into consideration those scenarios. Being raised as a homeschooler ensured that I had a lot of exposure to creativity and the outdoors, meaning I saw a lot of life and learned a lot of writing skills at an early age. I tended to listen to people's stories from real life and mold one or more of those tales into something plausible for my own stories. One of my characters has only one parent, a mother, but that mother actually adopted him. His real mom was raped when she was fifteen and rather than aborting him, decided to have him and put him up for adoption. So yes, there are numerous options to go for other than randomly making the person's parents 'conveniently' dead. I'll admit, I have also used the 'dead parent' scenario, where the kid's dad was murdered when he was only five, but his mom is still alive, but they're both seriously messed up mentally after that, so it's not exactly a Mary Sue situation, either. I agree with this guide wholeheartedly, and I might just use it to help inspire me with some of my less creative characters, too. :) Thanks for taking the time to write this, and thank you especially for sharing it with us.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner May 5, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
*Screams in embarrassment* I thought I fixed that stupid typo >< Thank you for pointing it out D: D: D:

I love taking real life scenarios and molding them into my stories. Sometimes I forget just how insane the outside world is o.o It's sad to think that things like that actually do happen (rape and the following abortion/adoption/unhappy single mother). Also the dead parent scenario (and other tragedies) are always better in stories when people remember that those things have consequences outside of the actual death or tragedy. For example, I'm sure your character has strong feelings about the way he was conceived (if he knows) but some people forget that those things continue to affect people later on.

Thanks so much for reading! Sorry if none of that made sense, I'm 87% asleep. ^^;
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:iconvoadorchama:
VoadorChama Featured By Owner May 6, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
He actually doesn't find out the truth of how he was conceived until he's in his late thirties, and when that happens, naturally he's shocked, horrified, and furious at his adoptive mother for not telling him the truth sooner in life. Yeah, he does have a lot of strong feelings about it. It does bug me when people forget that there is much more beyond the actual tragedy.

It all made perfect sense. And the typo was fine; I make mistakes like that all the time. :D
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:iconhcwalsh:
HCWalsh Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013
Totally agree with everything you said here~:nod: I defiantly have some characters without parents but I have a reason for it and I most certainly would never take out parents just because I don't want to write about them~ In fact, having parents and building the characters relationship with them is quite fun and can add even more dimension to their story and personality~:aww:
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
^^ I think parents can certainly make stories more fun to write. It adds so many possibilities!
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:iconintelligentzombie:
IntelligentZombie Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist General Artist
This is awesome! I love your writing tutorials, they're very handy, and you point out a lot of common pitfalls that can be very groan-worthy for readers if not done well. My current story (I've been working on the world it's set in for three years and it's my baby :XD:) has a main character with dead parents, and I pulled the "missing mom, let's go find her" thing for a supporting character, only nobody ever really gets around to it. :lol: I've been trying to figure out a way to bring my main character's dead parent back because I'm worried it's cliche, but it's woven in so tightly I can't figure out how to undo it without upsetting motivation and theme. I also just really hate my character's mom. :giggle: She's not really the primary mother figure, so I felt like I could get away with killing her. She's so annoying. :faint:
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Apr 25, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Lol that's what happened to my novelbaby too. By the time I realized how cliche dead parents were, it was such an important part of the story that I couldn't fix it. I think it'll be okay though because it's not so much a central part of the story as other things are. She isn't hellbent on revenge or anything xD

I'm glad you like the tutorials though!
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:icontitanium-alex:
Titanium-Alex Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013
I'm not sure about my character now - her parents have passed away, but she was already an adult and her inheritance is sort of needed? I guess? Hm.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
That's one of the cases that it's really just fine. The main issue (I think) is that teens subconsciously want to be free of their parents and that comes out in their writing. Your character sounds perfectly fine :3

(It's really just the fourteen year old teens living in their own apartment because their parents died... I think young authors tend to be attracted to the idea of "orphan" because it holds similarity to "independent")
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:icontitanium-alex:
Titanium-Alex Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013
Yay! xD

Yeah, if it's meant to be real world - present day - I end up thinking 'Yeah, riiiight' about that kind of thing. I mean, I know less than nothing about social services but I'm pretty sure minors can't live in apartments by themselves just because their parents have died...
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:iconcatbot158:
Catbot158 Featured By Owner May 2, 2013  Student Writer
Unless you're living in Japan, in which case, it's perfectly okay to live by yourself in an apartment! No one will take you away, because high school there is the equivalent to college. Basically after middle school, heck even elementary school, you're free to live on your own if you wanted, and had the money to support yourself.
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:icontitanium-alex:
Titanium-Alex Featured By Owner May 3, 2013
Oh, wow, really? Didn't know that, thanks!
The more you know :D
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Mar 26, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Pretty much x3
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:iconandroid3000:
Android3000 Featured By Owner Mar 17, 2013  Hobbyist
This is very handy
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:iconmissrandomesque:
MissRandomesque Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013
Thank you so much for this! I always have trouble finding the ideal parents for my character. And I often forget there are multiple options within 'divorced', 'married', and 'deceased'. I would also like to hear your thoughts on different character reactions to hearing they are adopted. I pull that card a lot and feel like I screw up the reaction by either over-dramatizing or having them quickly not care. And also when I kill parents off in a story, as I have done some times, I never know how long the character should stay sad/mad or how long/how much it should be talked about in the text.
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:iconfehnwrites:
Fehnwrites Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013  Hobbyist Traditional Artist
Glad you liked it :D

Those things all depend on the personality of your character and the setting, I would think. For example, if your character comes from the middle ages where disease and famine are very common and many laws are punishable by death, they might not be taken off guard as much if they lose a parent. They will surely still be upset, but in those days death was all around and common. If you think about current times, because of medicine and advancements and such things, deaths are usually only by accident or incurable diseases. Because of this they aren't expected nearly as much, and the fact that you don't expect somebody to die can make it much harder to deal with when they do.

As for personality, think of how your character reacts to other things. (This [link] would probably help you a lot in figuring out how your character reacts to things).

For parental/family death, a character's reaction would probably be affected by things like how close they were to the parent, how strongly it impacts their life aside from the actual death, and who else the have in their lives. If they live with their mother and their father dies, they might be upset by it but it would probably be a bit easier to get over because of the lack of connection before the death. However, if they lived with both their parents and were very close to them, if both parents were to die they would have to deal with not only the fact that their parents are gone, but the fact that their entire life would change. They would probably have to leave their home to live with another relative, perhaps even going as far as another state or country. In that case you have to consider that they might be forced to leave pets, friends, or significant others behind. Dealing with the death of a family member would be a lot harder if you didn't have any friends or people you were close to to help you through it.

As for overreacting, just try to fit it in to the character's reaction. If they have a bad day, do they kick a wall and cuss a lot? Or do they just bottle it up inside and answer "fine" when someone asks how their day was? The first would probably blow up and possibly do something drastic like run away or break something if they found out they were adopted. The second might run out of the house, but come back a few hours later and slip into their room to sulk in silence. Now, if your character really loves his adopted parents, he will surely be quicker to forgive them or accept it than if he had problems with his parents. If he really didn't like his parents, he might try to seek out his real ones to find a better life. Also, not all people would be devastated by such a realization. Perhaps they always expected it, or maybe they love their adoptive parents so much that they consider them more real than any other parents could ever be. Additionally, consider the age at which the character finds out. If they find out when they're very young, it will be easier to accept than if they find out when they're into their teens or early twenties. Having your parents keep such a big secret for that long creates a huge sense of betrayal and mistrust that could make the reaction a lot more severe.

To combine the two, if a character were to find out their adopted and try to seek out their real parents, then find that their real parents were dead, their reaction could range greatly. If they had been trying to hunt down their real parents for years and years, meeting such an abrupt end to their search could upset them greatly. If they had only just begun the search, it might be easier to get over. It would also change depending on how they feel toward their adopted parents.

Sorry that was super duper long and I hope it helped some!
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:iconmissrandomesque:
MissRandomesque Featured By Owner Mar 13, 2013
It helped a lot. Thank you! You definitely gave me some things to think about. It's always difficult weaving the parental web and relationships with their children, especially if the main character has siblings. But I do need to get over killing parents or just giving them so many business meetings that they're never around anyhow. Haha. Thank you, again!
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