This is topic Familiarity Between Characters in forum Open Discussions About Writing at Hatrack River Writers Workshop.

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Posted by genevive42 (Member # 8714) on :
Having a new guy at work brings some interesting things to light.

We are a small store, three designers/salespeople at most, often two. The team we have now has been together for several years. Because one of my coworkers is going off to run a new store, we are trying out new employees.

Yesterday, this conversation took place:

John: "Is this Don's, uh...?
Genevive: "Yeah."

And we three veterans all knew that John was asking if this was Don's (a great artist and regular customer who we've seen evolve from the beginning - and a really nice guy) flier for his current gallery show; from that little bit. We also had all of the above associations with Don. The new guy, as would be expected, was clueless. Other shorthand conversations like that have been noticed too.

These sorts of things happen all of the time with close friends and couples. But it just shows how close we get to the people we work with. We don't even have to finish sentences any more.

So my question for everyone is:

Do you use this sort of familiarity when you write your characters that have known each other for a long time? Or have you used it to show just how outside of a group someone is? How often do you do this with people in your own life?

Just curious to see what you think.


Posted by TrishaH24 (Member # 8673) on :
I do, when it's approprate. Usually the reader is already in on whatever the characters are talking about. If not, I find a way to explain it without making it sound like an "explination". But that can be tricky.
Posted by babooher (Member # 8617) on :
Dangerous reefs ahead on this one. To create the kind of bond/familiarity you're talking about, genevive42, and make it accessible to readers would be great. You'll be creating a club that your reader gets to belong to. The danger comes from going through the rocky waves of explaining too much or too little. If you explain too much too fast or too bluntly you'll ruin the specialness of the club. If you explain too little, you'll just show that your reader is an outsider.

The bond you have with your coworkers takes time and you'll need that in your writing. If you figure out how to do it quickly, I'd love to know how.

Posted by Robert Nowall (Member # 2764) on :
I'm thinking there is a certain familiarity among people who've hung out together for a long time (for work or marriage or the army or whatever reason), and that familiarity will lead to a shorthand of communication (unfinished sentences, or finishing eath other's sentences)...but it'd be hard to portray that without leaving the reader in the dark.

You could introduce a character into the group dynamic who hasn't been around the others as long and who has to have things spelled out...but that's kind of cheating, if you want to portray that dynamic (and that shorthand) in action...

Posted by TamesonYip (Member # 9072) on :
Of course, when characters say too much, don't you think Info dump? And a large part of that is from the whole familiarity thing- I know bob, I know he is plotting to take over the world with radioactive dachshunds, why would I bring it up?

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