At the San Francisco Writer's Conference, there were two intriguing lectures. One of them was famed New York literary agent Donald Maass, www.maassagency.com. His lecture in three parts is below. He wrote Writing the Breakout Novel, my first book on writing. In his lecture, Maass talked about how issues can stem from childhood, affecting the adult life in unseen ways. For me specifically, my mom rags on me because she loves me. Growing up in America, when a parent rags on their kids, it's not necessarily love, or it's a screwed up way of loving. But in the Chinese culture, it's the way of showing love, and shooing demons away from snatching prized children. Freakin' demons. Can't they just leave us alone?
I explore parental issues a lot with my characters in my book.
I'd sent part of my manuscript out for a professional critique, which I got great feed back on that helped me improve the story. The critiquer didn't like how I characterized one of the lady warriors. Said that promiscuous women warriors were cliche in fantasy. Very true. But part of the issue with this character is her father. You'll have to read the book to see if my hero, the father, can resolve the issues with his wanton daughter. And I'm not talking about the Chinese dumpling.
In the Harry Potter series, the death of his parents was a major part of the story. When I was researching JK Rowling and how she became such a huge success, she made the parent's death a bigger deal when she experience her own mother's passing. It's a powerful experience and is central to Harry's story. And it's a great way of creating empathy for him.
No matter what the issues that parents can create in their children, it's obvious that they can come up in adult lives. When working on your character, I think it's good to keep this in mind, to add another level of depth. I don't think you'll have to actually refer to it, but definitely have it there. Readers will sense the layer of depth, which of course will make your book that much better.
Maass' lecture helped qualify my choice of parental issues. He also talks about how to make your story more epic. The cool thing is epic doesn't mean bigger. He'll explain how to make your story more epic. Again, I apologize for the quality of the recording. His lecture was one of the more popular ones. And be careful of people coughing. It sounds like they coughed right into my recorder.