Using Long Standing Conflict
In writing background character information in your suspense thriller; it is important to interject long standing rivalry. Especially, when there is stark contrast between the protagonist and antagonist and the two just happen to be sisters. The following story is an example of how to build up the conflict and entice your audience to read further.
Madelyn and Jasmine …
“The lovely Madelyn …"
For the past fifteen years, these are the remarks muttered at least three times every day. Not that Jasmine, her younger sister, wasn’t a beauty in her own right, but Madelyn’s mannerisms always fascinated and attracted admiration. Jasmine being the youngest of three siblings finds it is a constant battle to be accepted for who she is.
Madelyn’s older brother Wyatt Jr. graduated with honors from Sanford University. He has returned to Maple Grove to pursue a great job as an architect in his father and uncle’s firm.
Madelyn has easily slipped into big brother’s shoes. She excels in everything she attempts to do. She is Senior Class President, Valedictorian and President of the local National Honor Society. Madelyn even possesses long, silky-straight waist-length blonde hair while little sister Jasmine’s dark auburn hair is long, thick with beautiful natural curls.
“Jassy, don’t worry if your hair is not like Madelyn.” Mrs. Katie Parker Andrews, their mother always says. “You are so very beautiful. Your hair is reminiscent of a summer’s day: bouncy and teeming with life. You don’t have to walk in your sister’s shadow. You are both stunning young ladies!” Jasmine smiles happily because she is learning to be content with her luscious locks.
Wyatt Jr. is also another defender of little sister Jasmine. He has always been the very first to come to her rescue when teachers and thoughtless friends make comparisons of Madelyn and Jasmine. The worst offender is Karen Parker Andrews.
“Why can’t you be more like Madelyn?” Mrs. Andrews, Maple Grove Preparatory School volunteer coordinator, whines one day while visiting her sister. Karen Andrews is Jasmine’s aunt. Karen is also married to Jonathan Andrew, Wyatt’s brother and twin sister to Katherine (Katie) Andrews.
Sibling Rivalry between Karen and Kate...
“Madelyn is going very far in life. She has the beauty, poise and personality of a debutante!” Karen throws in her sister Katie’s face. “It’s easy to see she inherited my social skills!”
“Jasmine will go very far as well dear sister. She has understated classic good looks and a fabulous shape!” Katie retorts in anger. “I am proud of her athletic abilities. I am extremely proud of both my daughters!”
“You were never the socialite, were you dear Kate.” Karen flings at her sister with vehement.
“Maybe not dear Karen but I married Wyatt, didn’t I?” Katie hurls back in defense watching her twin sister deflate.
“Uh … well, I guess I’d better be going.” Karen says picking up her belongings and feeling very foolish and small. She gives her sister a spontaneous hug in apology.
“Yes … I guess … and do come again.” Katie replies returning her sister’s hug and also feeling childish walks Karen to the door. Kate knew that her sister really loved her; she just had a problem getting past her own self worth due to an interfering and dominating aunt.
After witnessing the hilarious episode with her Aunt Karen and her mother Jasmine finds herself quietly sitting on the glider swing that grace her parents’ front lawn.
“I wonder how mom puts up with Great Aunt Claire and Aunt Karen for all these years. There definitely has to be a lot of love! ” Jasmine thinks to herself.
“What are you doing out here, squirt?” Wyatt Jr. asks.
“Oh, I am trying to stay out of Madelyn’s shadow. Aunt Karen seems to think the sun rises and sets on her.” Jasmine replies tossing her beautiful hair from side to side.
“Oh, you’ve witnessed another “attack of the dragon lady,” eh?” Wyatt Jr questions laughingly.
“Yep, and as usual she tried to leave a few burn marks on mom.” Jasmine says giggling.
“That woman is definitely cruising for a bruising. Aunt Karen can sometimes possess the sting of a scorpion.” Wyatt Jr. affectionately called Ocean by Jasmine and Madelyn because of his wavy hair that seemed to glimmer in the sunlight.
A Brother's Insight ...
“I know and a scorpion’s sting can kill!” Jasmine reminds her older brother.
“You don’t think that Aunt Karen would …” Ocean’s voice trails off.
“I don’t really know; I’m just saying that sometimes her words can bite like an adder to use another cliché.” Jasmine says.
“Now that you’ve mention it; there are times when Aunt Karen really isn’t herself. Then there are times … what did mom have to say?” Ocean asks.
“Ocean, you know how our mother is. I thought I was about to witness the extermination of that scorpion! Aunt Karen had the good graces to back down; wiping the egg off her face!” Jasmine laughs.
“That’s our mom. Aunt Karen has the knack of rubbing her the wrong way. It’s hard to believe that mom has endured Aunt Karen’s acid tongue for all these years. I think it’s beginning to wear on mom’s nerves. Anything Aunt Karen has to say that remotely resembles comparing you to Madelyn puts her into combat mode!” Ocean smiles thinking about how feisty his five foot two mother can be.
“From what I’ve heard others say, Aunt Karen is becoming more like Great Aunt Claire every day!” Jasmine exclaims.
“Now that’s one for Grimm’s Fairytales. I heard there was quite a competition between Great Aunt Claire and Grammy over Grandpa Cedric.” Ocean comments on the subject.
“Yes, and after the twins were born the wedge became even deeper. Great Aunt Claire started to favor Aunt Karen. She would invite her over for the summer. Take her on outings. Mom said she never wanted to go because she felt something not quite right with Great Aunt Claire!
“Some people said that Great Aunt Claire had a familiar spirit?” Ocean remembers. “She did seem to have quite a hold on Aunt Karen, still does.”
“Do you think that Aunt Karen possesses that spirit?” Jasmine asks him.
“Yes, if Great Aunt Claire had it; you can rest assured that Aunt Karen has it. Just as Great Aunt Claire and Grammy were rivals for the heart of Grandpa Cedric. Aunt Karen and mom were rivals after dad. Mom however won him over without a skirmish.” Ocean replies.
Karen Has a Secret ...
“Yes and isn’t it’s so strange that mom is so much like Grammy and Aunt Karen is so much like Great Aunt Claire. Mom is so beautiful and Aunt Karen has that HAIR.” Jasmine says.
“I heard that Aunt Karen’s hair came out of a bottle or a series of bottles.” Ocean begins his story.
“Wow, you’re kidding!” Jasmine exclaimed.
“It’s true! Great Aunt Claire wanted Aunt Karen to be so much like her that she was taken to the apothecary to purchase all types of dyes and rinses. They also used a variety of straightening products to train Aunt Karen’s naturally curly hair to be more like Great Aunt Claire. I’m told that in time Aunt Karen achieved the desired look.” Ocean continues his story.
Concluding Comments ...
Now you have established just the right amount of sibling rivalry that started years ago and have manifested into monumental propositions. The sisters are twins however, not the loving and caring relationship that are shared by most. This is in part due to the interference and rivalry of the mother of these twins and their aunt. If you want to know more about Claire Davenport; she can be found in a previous article on writing suspense thrillers.
© 2014 Jacqueline Williamson BBA MPA MS