I had some short stories, poems and photographs to share ... and so here I am

Despicable Characters

I am normally a calm, peaceful, balanced person in my ordinary life. Why then does something dark and disturbing come out in my writing? Where do those nasty characters come from and why do I get them to do such despicable things?

I mean, really, I do understand the reasons. I'm letting myself express the stuff that's hidden deep within? Or I'm letting myself go, into territory that is fresh.

When I look back at my writing - I'm attempting my third novel - I notice that I have always added a certain degree of gloom and awful action. It's as though I'm really pushing the boundaries, going for stuff that is not part of my normal life. I do it without thinking about it. It takes a neutral reader to say, "Gee, that person sure is nasty", for me to realise what I've done.

But I am a person who loves the sunshine, really!

Of course, not all characters in novels have to be nice, but I think there has to be some humanity and likeability somewhere, otherwise the reader feels too much of an onslaught. Why do my characters always have to act so badly? Can't they be half bad and half good?

I'm careful now not to let my tendency for nastiness in characters take over. People can be balanced, but gratuitous awfulness doesn't have to rule the day. I take a little time now to see if I can make things more subtle.

Has anyone else experienced this?


Unknown said...

'Like being an actor on paper' was how one (mostly dreary) creative writing course tutor described character development.
I think that whatever you write, and whoever you write has only one rule - to be convincing. If you can show me just how despicable your character is and I believe it then you have done your job.
I write 'strong' women and dread the day when I am called to write a simpering idiot but no doubt I will find a source!

S. Kearney said...

Gosh, how many dreary writing tutors have we come across ... and I always used to ask, "So, how many novels did you actually get published?". But that advice about being an actor on a page is a goodie. Playing God is also quite nice, being able to decide how someone turns out.