Shaped by what we love
Have you ever quoted a line from a movie you had watched over and over as a child or imitated the mannerisms or repeated the words of someone you had spent a lot of time with, without really realising it or without remembering that you had picked it up from somewhere in the past?
I’m not sure why we do it, but I don’t think we’re alone.
I wonder whether the same can be said of writers’ characters? I think it can. It is true that we include the characteristics we admire in our protagonists and the characters we like, and we include the characteristics we don’t admire in our antiheroes or villains, in the slightly judging way us humans generally do. And we all do it (whether we like it or not) with the natural, yet sometimes surprising predisposition that comes with being creatures of evolutionary inevitability.
But when it comes right down to it, even the people we admire have less-than-perfect days. And so do we, al be it completely out of character. Which is all good stuff for writing, right?
I think I’ve said before, but it often is insanely challenging to write about character traits we perceive as unreasonable. Is this because we don’t often give ourselves permission to act in the same way, if at all? So why should our characters have this luxury?
Because otherwise any book you write would be five pages long and boring. But I won’t be too hard on these characters for too long, because usually ‘just when I thought I was out, they pull me back in.’
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