Relationship Thesaurus Entry: Host and Guest

From Writers Helping Writers:

Successful stories are driven by authentic and interesting characters, so it’s important to craft them carefully. But characters don’t usually exist in a vacuum; throughout the course of your story, they’ll live, work, play, and fight with other cast members. Some of those relationships are positive and supportive, pushing the protagonist to positive growth and helping them achieve their goals. Other relationships do exactly the opposite, derailing your character’s confidence and self-worth or they cause friction and conflict that leads to fallout and disruption. Many relationships hover somewhere in the middle. A balanced story will require a mix of these dynamics.

The purpose of this thesaurus is to encourage you to explore the kinds of relationships that might be good for your story and figure out what each might look like. Think about what a character needs (good and bad), and build a network of connections for him or her that will challenge them, showcase their innermost qualities, and bind readers to their relationship trials and triumphs.

Description: A host or hostess is someone who welcomes and entertains guests at a venue, function, or in their own home. They are responsible for taking care of the needs of their guests, making them feel both valued and special. In this relationship, self-worth is tied to each person’s role. The guest feels valued through inclusion; depending on the event, the importance tied to other attendees, and the situation, inclusion is a symbol of status and respect. In turn, the host takes pride in their role and the experience they offer guests. Their ability to oversee a successful event (which sometimes also means having to set aside personal feelings or ignore politics) will raise their esteem in the eyes of others, in turn feeding their self-worth. Of course the opposite is also true – if either party fails in their role, esteem will diminish, especially the closer the relationship is between host and guest (family, friends, business partners, exes, etc.). A negative experience means guests will feel undervalued and view themselves as a burden which may leave them angry at the host for making them feel this way. A less-than-ideal outcome will leave the host feeling inadequate due to their failure to manage the event properly or provide for their guests.

Dynamics of a Healthy Relationship
Respect and appreciation that flows both ways
Ensuring the other party has any information they need (where to find things, a timetable of activities, and any special requirements, allergies, constraints, or expectations the other may need to know)
Being polite, friendly, and patient
Doing as instructed and playing one’s role (as the good host, the well-mannered house guest, the sociable guest speaker, the appropriately attired attendee, etc.)
Being on time and not making unreasonable demands of the other
Being appreciative of the other’s time and attention
Playing peacekeeper and discouraging drama should it crop up

Dynamics of an Unhealthy Relationship
Monopolizing someone’s time because they believe they have the right to
Not respecting the host’s property, time, or reputation
Tempers that flare
Being two-faced (threats hidden behind smiles, veiled insults, gossiping about the other to bring down their reputation)
Seeking to undermine or exploit the other
Using one’s role to make the other look bad (creating problems for a host that are impossible to fix, or calling negative attention to a guest, thereby singling them out among their peers)
Making unreasonable demands (forcing too many rules on a guest or demanding a host go above and beyond)
Taking advantage of someone’s hospitality
Noticeable friction between a host and guest that makes others uncomfortable
Endangering guests (conducting illegal activities while at the host’s home, distributing drugs at a party, etc.)

Link to the rest at Writers Helping Writers

PG posted this as a suggestion for authors to consider the wide range of relationships and relationship dynamics that can exist between people and characters.

2 thoughts on “Relationship Thesaurus Entry: Host and Guest”

  1. Host and Guest are actually cognate and derive from the same Proto Indo-European root word. In ancient PIE society you couldn’t have one without the other.

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