ok, setting the topic of language aside for the moment, so that my brain doesn't suffer a complete meltdown, let's look at the character development, specifically, in regards to how a character relates to others in a book or story. i've a confession to make: my main character, and some of the supporting characters, have their origins in role-playing games. because that's the kind of nerd i am. my main character was a halfling, and much of the way she related to other characters and dealt with her own interior struggles had to do with halfling culture and her relationship to it. of course, if i'm to write anything about her that i can actually do anything with, she needs to be severed from her halfling roots and given a new people and culture, which i think was in her destiny when i rolled her up, anyway. the raw material of the game that got me started is no longer useful, and needs to be scrapped so that i can do something original with her. unfortunately, many of her motivations go with it, especially in regards to how she socializes. some elements of her new people are similar: they live communally, they frequently go barefoot (but as a cultural thing, not a biological adaptation), and they smoke. they are simple, earthy people. but other than those surface similarities they in no way resemble halflings, and i'd really like to keep it that way. the entire social structure that provided her motivations has gone out the window. one thing i'm noticing right away is that Briar has no love interests. there were reasons for this in the game, but i'm reaching for some in the story and not finding anything. she has close male friends tha drastically affect her life, but no prospects for or interest in romance - in fact i think the very concept would still kind of freak her out. it seems to me that romantic relationships are part of normal character development, especially for adolescents, when so much of their social energy is geared towards finding a mate. why is briar different? i'm still struggling to find an answer to that one, and wasting a lot of paper in the process. furthermore, i've noticed that none of my characters seem to have much in the way of a romantic life. quite frankly as my characters develop the only reason for this i can find is that i myself am a bitter disillusioned bitch with fucked up relationship patterns & can't write a love story to save my life. how important are love relationships to storyline & character development, especially in a story dealing with adolescents? will the development of romance between characters interfere with the action & plot? will the lack of romance rob the story of vitality, depth and emotion? looking deeper i find also that Briar has no female friends, and doesn't socialize well with other female characters. well, actually, she doesn't socialize well with anybody - that's kind of her thing. again, there were cultural reasons for that in the game, but there are none so far in the story. how do i create a structure for gender relations & character socialization? most important i think is going to be how her culture interacts with the surrounding ones, as she grew up somewhat removed from her roots - that detail is key to the plot. the whole story goes out the window if she has a healthy relationship with her own culture from the start. how do other writers deal with socializing characters against the backdrop of culture? i can't just "not worry about culture", because the cultures and their relationships to each other are what drives the plot.