Deepen Your Character Relationships With These Tricks (Part 3 of 4)

Have you got two or more characters in a budding friendship, but not sure how to get it to blossom? Do you want know how to write a heart-swooning bromance? Are you writing enemies to friends? These simple tricks will elevate your characters from banter buddies to loyal comrades.

Welcome to PART THREE of Writing Dynamic Friendships According To Person Of Interest. This is an extended look at the hit tech-crime thriller. Remember to read the previous parts so you can see how Person Of Interest builds the dynamic between its two leads, and how we can transform our characters from enemies and strangers to close, healthy friends:

  1. Start Your Characters Off On The Wrong Foot
  2. How To Transform Your Characters From Antagonists To Friends

As always, spoilers ahead.

How To Write Dynamic Friendships According To Person Of Interest

What’s the story so far?

Reese has accepted his new job. Finch has gotten use to Reese dipping into his privacy, and is starting to open up little by little. Their antagonism is present, but they’re not enemies anymore, and it sits as a slight, almost unnoticeable uneasiness. They’ve noted each other’s boundaries. They’ve complimented each other. John Reese is growing more protective of Harold as the days go past. Most importantly, the banter has begun.

Now, it’s on to stage three.

person of interest friendship stage 3


Move your characters from respect to appreciation

In part two, we saw how Harold and John respect each other. They respect each other talents and each other’s boundaries. While respect is important for the friendship to begin, its not what makes a friendship a bromance. Heck, it’s not even what makes a friendship. Two people can respect each other without being friends. At the moment, Harold and John’s relationship is that of two friendly colleagues, more or less.

But appreciation is different.

Appreciation is recognition and enjoyment of the good qualities of someone or something. When we appreciate people, we recognise that we enjoy their company and want to do things for them. Reese and Finch are always saving each other from deadly situations, but it’s not just the big stuff that counts: They give each other gifts, bring each other coffee, go for walks together, take turns taking care of their dog – all sorts!


  • What activities do your characters like to do?
  • What interests do they share?
  • Now, how can you show them noticing and encouraging each other’s interests?

It might help to make a list of ideas and put them in a rough order of where they might fit in the plot. It’s important to know what your characters feel towards each other and why at any given time. Remember cause and effect.


Demonstrate that they care and trust each other

That mutual respect for each other’s skills has become respect for each other’s values and desires. Your characters discover they have more in common than they thought. Those secrets they’ve held onto so tightly are being shared, voluntarily and with no regrets. If your writing enemies to lovers, this is the part where you call attention to the growing romance between your two leads.

Give one of them the opportunity to take advantage of the other – and choose not to. Reese is given the perfect opportunity to find out more about his mysterious employer when Finch is drugged.

Finch: Come on! Ask me anything.

Reese: Goodnight, Harold.

Season 1, episode eighteen, Identity Crisis.

It’s a beautiful and touching moment. And it’s vital. There are some lines John Reese will not cross. He is not willing to violate Harold or betray his trust while he’s under the influence of drugs. Reese’s goal to learn Harold’s secrets has not changed. He still pursues Harold’s past, though his efforts become apathetic and he’d rather discover Harold’s secrets when he feels he’s earned them – either through his own detective work or through Harold’s honesty.

Provide Conflict In Doubt

Conflict is a writer’s bread and butter. When writing enemies to friends, there is wonderful conflict burning but this might begin to fizzle as time goes by. To keep conflict alive, move it from will these characters get along to what are the consequences now they do get along? Maybe there’s someone who doesn’t approve of the relationship, who can voice their opinions on occasion and make your characters question their growing trust. Maybe the character’s own history is keeping them from fully letting their guard down. This will depend on what you set up in stage one, and just how much animosity there was.

Now a relationship has formed, remember to put that relationship in jeopardy – this will be the final test of their friendship. Find out more in part four!

Part One: Start Your Characters Off On The Wrong Foot

Part Two: How To Transform Your Characters From Antagonists To Friends

Next Up: The Ultimate Way To Show Your Characters Are Best Friends

Published by

J.H. Dixon

What's this? An author's brand? You mean I have to boil down my complex human personality into something marketable? That's a lot of pressure. Where would I even begin? I have many facets. Many hats, if you will. One second I'm scribbling down heart-stopping thrillers, the next I'm writing a rhyming poem about a rabbit stealing eggs. What I'm writing could change any minute. No writer should have to stick to just one hat.

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