background characters–parents

The common characters that one thinks about when beginning to write are easy. We have friends and siblings and strangers and work partners. However, one character that I suspect to frequently be overlooked are parents. The question is why.

I doubt it’s based on how much your parents play a role in your life, because I have a really good relationship with my mom (not wonderful with my dad)  and I hardly mention moms. In one story I was going to write, (changed my mind) it was actually the dad who she had just lost within the last six months, the mom having been dead for ten years or so.

I actually realized that none of my stories ever have major parent characters involved. in Hope (which I haven’t talked about a lot but that’s my first novel.) her mom died before the story began. In Shad, he was an orphan with unknown parents. (Father figure, yes, but no actual parents). In Kontyo, his father was never actually seen, only mentioned. In Dragon Slayers, parents are dead. In Giant’s Wife, his parents are dead and hers she has seen for three years.

So, apparently, I jut decide to kill characters parents just because.

I actually think it’s because they either aren’t an important part to the story or their death actually moves the story along. In the story that I mentioned earlier, her dad was suspected to be killed by a drunk driver but was actually assassinated. (Really important when she starts working for the guy who had him killed.) In Hope, her mom’s death was actually her fault, which she finds out later. In Giant’s Wife, his family being dead is what caused him the join the army. (Although I did give him a sister.)

Which brings me to the next point. WHy is it that siblings are okay but parents aren’t? With the exception of Shad who we really don’t know where he came from, every single one of my characters had a close relationship with a sibling. Hope always wanted to see her brother Dave again. Kontyo worked closely with Felix. Heddwyn is close with Eva and tells her some things. Dragon Slayers, Colton is practically raising Natlie.

Now this isn’t that surprising.  I get along with most my siblings very well (when they aren’t being thickheaded and spockish). I think that brother/sister relationships can be some of the best in the world.

But why siblings and not parents? What makes parents so invisible? Is it just that I don’t know how to write forty and fifty year olds so I avoid it? But I do, because all I would need to do is write something like how my mom and I interact. Yes, people might not fully believe it, since we act like friends oftentimes, but that is still might be better than nothing.

I do not have an answer to this. I’m also thinking that I haven’t read too many books where the parents play a major role either, which makes me wonder about that as well. Anyone else notice such a problem?

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About Abigail

I'm an elementary education major at a college in the Midwest. I might graduate as early as December '13 but more likely May '14. I write when I can. I also knit on occasion, draw, do homework and contradict teachers to make people think. :)

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