Writing about Siblings when you have none
Having a sibling is so common, to many, it seems strange to think of people not having siblings. I know, that is a very general statement, but from personal experience, it feels true. Both my parents have at least four siblings a piece with... differing results on relationships between said family members.
I, however? I am and always have been an only child. I've always wondered what it would be like to have a sibling, to have a relationship, whether it be good or bad, with someone else that grew up alongside me. It's fascinating to me.
So, no doubt, that's probably why most of my stories have sibling relationships in them; The good, the bad and the ugly.
The Knowledge of an Only Child:
I will never complain about being an only child. Sure, I've wondered 'what if' more then once in my life, but I've also seen the aggravation that comes with having siblings. On one side of the family it even became... dangerous. They might as well be strangers to me now. The other side? Is... a bit dysfunctional, but there is communication and, to me, a weird form of 'love'.
I see the relationships on both sides and am left wondering, how does this function? How is it that a family can hate and love in equal spades? It always felt a little odd to me considering I adore my parents and the opposite feels true.
I hear the stories, see the interactions and find myself fascinated by the beast known as sibling relationships. Siblings around the same age can either be super close, or hate each others guts. Those same siblings can have older or younger siblings that they might be even closer to or be repulsed by.
Yet, as an only child? I had always craved those sort of connections and, no doubt, that's probably why I so often write about siblings, or, more specifically in many cases, twins.
Writing Sibling Characters
If you look through most of my stories, even just my published, you will only see a rare few instances of the character being an only child. More often then not I have characters that are siblings or have siblings, even if they aren't the main focus. This gives me a chance to play with the interactions I've seen.
Now, the important thing, when writing sibling characters, is that they are people. I know, it sounds strange, but they all have their wants, desires and frustrations. Take the siblings Maxwell and Karina for example.
Maxwell is a book-smart, observant boy who is often taking care of others. Meanwhile, Karina is a head-strong adventurous go-getter who often drags others into her orbit. Personality wise? They couldn't be more different. However, when I started writing them, I often found Karina wanting to get her brother involved in her likes while Maxwell only argued because he wanted to go home, but often had nothing better to do.
So, I knew the characters and I let the interactions develop naturally. Sometimes, it was teasing, sometimes deadpan annoyance and sometimes...
Well, sometimes there is a sense of protectiveness.
In Karina and Maxwell's case, they ended up with a few common goals, find their mother and escape the town. Common goals are known to even bring complete strangers together, so it is not far-fetched that an already developed relationship would follow along the same track.
Thus, I was able to use the story both to explore their relationship, but also develop it in different ways. Maxwell getting a bit of Karina's adventurous spirit; Karina getting a bit of Maxwell's observance and intuition. It was a great way to see how such relationships work outside of the typical 'family' context.
Writing sibling relationships is difficult. Their is so much complexity and nuance that I, as an only child, never fully understand and yet, it is something I can't help but want to keep doing. I guess, in some ways, I want to write the stories I want to see.
People always say that siblings can't be close. I want to show that they can.
After all, siblings are just people within a tight-knit community or circle. Maybe it's just fiction or fantasy, but, well, that's why we write. We delve into concepts that seem fantastical because we want to feel a different world than our own.
As an only child, I adore writing relationships between siblings. Whether that be Maxwell and Karina's very close if occasionally rocky relationship, or Caym and Lex's twisted and confused relationship. It is fascinating to delve into a concept near and dear to my heart.
In the end, I guess what I'm saying is, just because YOU have never experienced something, doesn't mean you can't write about it. It just means you have to talk with others, pay attention and be willing to accept that what you are writing might not be completely accurate. There are people who can help you make sure, for instance, that you don't accidentally make the characters seem 'too' close.
So, yeah, that's why I'm going to continue writing about siblings because, well, there is so much gold to delve into with such a topic, because every relationship is completely different and creates very different stories.
As a note, however, often times I do include sibling relationships because of the above, but also for plot reasons and that is perfectly fine as well. Sometimes, plot wise? You just need twin main characters or sibling characters for it to make sense.
If you have siblings, I would love to hear your thoughts on this. If you are an only child, maybe this can be helpful. Either way, siblings are something so integral with my writing, I don't think I'll ever give it up.
Julie Boglisch is a prolific author. At the age of twenty-eight she has already created and published multiple works. Her second series, The Elifer Chronicles, received a glowing Kirkus Review. She is an artist both in character art and cover design and is the creator of her own covers for her works which can be found here: