Memorable Families

By Gail Johnson

Good morning, fellow-writers and readers! This month’s theme is family and children.

And why not? For years, we have enjoyed stories about families. Some of my favorites are Little House on the Prairie, Anne of Green Gables, The Waltons, Pride and Prejudice, Sense and Sensibility, and The Fighting Sullivans.

Do you have a family in your story? If not, you should think about adding one. Relatives make such interesting additions to a tale. Parents and siblings can be comical, irritating, sacrificial, or even murderous. As supporting characters, they usually stand in the shadows, far from the limelight until a remark or reaction catches our eye. At that moment, we are captivated and they are forever etched in our minds. Memorable.

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Rex Whistler [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

For instance, ask anyone about Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice and they can tell you something about each character although the story is about Elizabeth and Darcy. Who doesn’t remember the sisters–Jane, Mary, Lydia, and Kitty? Or poor Mr. Collins? And how could anyone forget Mrs. Bennet?

 

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By Hugh Thomson (1860-1920) (Lilly Library, Indiana University) [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

“She was a woman of mean understanding, little information, and uncertain temper. When she was discontented, she fancied herself nervous. The business of life was to get her daughters married; its solace was visiting and news.” Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

 

Love her or hate her, you can’t ignore Mrs. Bennet! Every time I read the book or watch the movie, she reminds me of a clucking hen gathering her uncooperative, strong-willed chicks. She doesn’t care about “the improvement of her mind by extensive reading.” She’s content with being a mother. She has one objective: getting her daughters married and saving them from poverty. Period. Is she a rude woman? Certainly. Nosey? Definitely. Loving? Unquestionably, in her own way. Is she perfect? Hardly. And that’s the beauty of it. All her faults are what makes her memorable.

Jane Austen’s family isn’t perfect. Her characters make good and bad choices. They laugh, cry, and argue.  But eventually, they come together to help each other and in the end, all is well just like a family should be. Nothing like a happy ending!

Now it’s your turn. Think about one of your favorite families. What stands out in your mind? Were they good all the time? Were they bad all the time? I would suggest they were a mixture of the two. Think about how you can take those memorable traits and add them to your story? I’d love to hear your thoughts in the comments!

Click to tweet: Do you have a family in your story?

Writing Prompt: Take one supporting character from your favorite family and build a story around them.