And if you’re nervous about crossing it. At any point. There’s one very easy way to make sure you’re not (also can be applied to real life).
Simply take a moment, a soft or serious moment in the book and have a conversation. Something perhaps like this:
A: “You know I’m not serious right? That I’m joking?”
B, confused: “Joking about what?”
A hesitates for a moment. They consider dropping it, but there’s this nagging feeling. A question to which they need the answer. “Am I mean? To you?”
“Mean?” It took them a moment to realice, they laughed. “What? No way! You’re just joking, I know that, we all know that. Besides… I do it right back… does that feel mean?”
“I love it when you do it back. It feels like a game.”
“Our little game.”
“Yeah. One I always win at.”
And the banter goes back to normal.
This could come up for a number of reasons, perhaps they go too far with their banter, perhaps a bully used the exact same words in a context where it is supposed to hurt, perhaps a third character brings it up! But it’s a good way to just double check you’ve established that consent.
Mind you, if you’re certain the banter is playful and shows, you don’t need to do this. This is for when you fear you’re crossing that line. Sometimes, it’s best just not to take risks.
Also, on the matter of banter and bullying, you want some good character conflict? Let the banter go too far! Let character A hurt character B without meaning to. Let B get angry but not say it because they know it’s a joke. Let them explode. This happens to people in real life, it can happen in your writing.
As usual, check out my socials and book here.
Do you have friends who you joke around with? Has it ever gone too far? Have you ever talked about that if so?