Time to Write Now By Julaina Kleist-Corwin

About Writing Plus

The Gender and Birth Order of Characters’ Siblings Can Deepen Viewpoints

siblings sister n brotherDo any of the characters in your stories have siblings?

You can deepen the reasons for the protagonist’s psychological needs by exploring their siblings birth order and gender.

On New Year’s Eve at the Berkeley Yacht Club, I talked with a couple friends, one of which brought up a need she had to have a brother. She has a sister but always wanted a brother. A few years ago, she met a man, I’ll call him Joe, who became like a brother to her. They enjoy each other’s company and go on adventures together in a platonic relationship. Boating, hiking, visiting art museums, music concerts, dancing, etc. and they have invested in owning a sailboat  as partners. Joe fulfills the void of not having a brother.

Our mutual friend said she grew up without a father and is still looking for that figurehead, feeling it a missing part in her life. As an only child, I thought about their theories. I grew up with three male cousins younger than me that I babysat in summers. I’d live at my aunt and uncle’s house for about two months and play with them as imaginary characters with secret code names. I don’t see them often, one is in Los Angeles and two near Seattle  but when we get together, they are my brothers.

For me, I missed having a sister, but now I’m in many groups, writing, philosophy, boating, hiking, teaching groups and in them all I bond with one or two or more that I know like a sister. We even call ourselves sisters. In a way, they are better than familial sisters because we don’t fight.

I’m interested in friends who do have siblings and in what birth order they are. I’ve read that the middle child often has a harder time in the family unit. They don’t have the trusted responsibilities parents expect of the oldest and they aren’t the youngest who is excused by being the baby of the family.

In my novel, Hada’s Fog, the two brothers challenged each other since they were children and are now in their early 40’s. The theme revolves around a Cain and Abe pattern.

With some of the ideas about yearning for what was missing in the family and regarding the position within the birth order, can you use some of those dynamics with siblings in your WIP?

Brother sister on beach laughing brothers sisters with quote




  1. As an only child I was raised with an aunt who was 4-years older. We were like sisters. When she passed away from cancer, it was like I lost a part of me. I have been searching for a replacement, which I only realized after reading your posting. She can’t be replaced, no one will ever be able to fill her shoes or should they try. Thank you for always sharing your insights. What a wonderful new year present you have given me. Now it’s time to fill that loss with something new. What will it be? There is a whole world out there just waiting for me to discover what that will be.

    • Sally, I’m happy my post provided a realization for you. I didn’t know you were an only child too as I am.

  2. ladywinfred says:

    Great thought-provoking post, Julaina. I see from the comment above that you reached very deeply into at least one of your followers. Libraries are filled with books about siblings, and for good reason, I think. If, as some believe, we choose the parents and family we join each lifetime, then the siblings are chosen for their role in taking us to our next level. I’d write more but it would take volumes! Thanks for striking a chord!

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