Characters in fiction aren’t generally known for being objective, right? If they were, we’d have little conflict, and dialogue would be too polite to be interesting.

Nor are characters known for being selfless, or story goals would be particularly boring and not really worth our readers’ time.

With this in mind, I can’t help but spare a thought for our protagonists who have had to endure situations that would be a challenge in real life, to say the least. We know what it feels like when these types of things happen to us as writers (and humans) to some extent at least.

If we didn’t occasionally write about that which hits a little close to home, if only on some cathartic make-believe level, there wouldn’t be the same amount of empathy for our characters to go around.

Also, if fictitious constructs weren’t based on sporadically observed traits of others that happen to live outside the story world we spend hundreds of hours in, would it still provide the reader with the same powerful emotional experience they seek?

After all, characters are as imperfect as their real-life counterparts, and the very thing that makes us human is also what enables our species to survive on an evolutionary level in the first place.

Everyone is the product of their own past and the well-meaning people that shaped them. Even those of us who aim to be gentle and kind have our own past reasons for being just that.

It raises the question, is our judgement of others’ flawed behaviour justified beyond the right to be fleetingly taken aback, before inevitably getting over it?

We don’t have to solve this right now. Just wondering.

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