Hey everyone, I’m tossing around a few ideas for what to focus on in my next Thursday post series; right now the only real suggestion has been to write about character perspectives and how to write them. I guess you could consider this a trial post to see if it’s something I think I can explore and explain adequately. Anyway, without further ado let’s begin.
I’d like to preface this post by saying that character perspectives have always fascinated me. I love exploring people’s motives and figuring out what makes people tick. It is because of this that I often find myself gravitating towards villainous characters (it’s not my fault, they’re just more interesting!). They often have more abundant and complex emotional desires than their heroic counterparts, and it is because of this that I become absorbed with ‘figuring them out’, if you will. The simple truth is that I am drawn to them because they are so completely different from me; they have an entirely distinct perspective from my own and that just fascinates me.
This separation can be off-putting for some readers, though, because it can be difficult to get attached to a character you cannot possibly understand if you do not have a propensity for studying them as I do. This purpose of this post and ultimately this potential series is to help you, should you find yourself in a position like this, to gain an understanding and an appreciation of these types of characters; in whatever form they present themselves.
Whenever I am faced with an idea or belief that is radically different from my own I always take some time to stop and put myself in the shoes of the other person. It doesn’t matter if they are a fictional character or your nextdoor neighbor. The first step to gaining some perspective is to humble yourself and think “if I had lived their life, I would think and act exactly like them.” When you do this, it doesn’t matter if you’re a fifteen-year-old honor student, you can suddenly relate to a mass murderer. You’ve gained the ability to put yourself in their shoes and withdraw any character judgment. You don’t have to agree with what they do or how they think, but you come to realize that understanding and enjoying a well written character, despite overwhelming differences, is one of the keys to being a better writer yourself.
2 thoughts on “Possible Series Introduction: Perspectives”
Neal, if you haven’t you need to read some of the books by the FBI profilers who have retired. This is exactly what they do, get into the heads of some of the most henieous criminals there are. For me, with basically 30 years professional practice of empathy (clinical psychologist) they are very hard reads.
In the book I’m writing, my villain is my favorite character to work on because it’s so outside my own thinking. I completely agree that villains require you to step outside yourself and that’s why they complete a good book. Writing a heroic character that’s equally complex. and therefore viable as their rival, is the often the more difficult task for me.