“She sees the world as she is, Anna, not how it really is." This is a quote from Charlie, a character in Corruptible, my novella.
Every now and then, a quote comes to me in my writing that is filled with truth. This quote is one of them, and it turns out to be one of my favorites. It is a short quote, but it says a lot about a character, and a reader might read through it quickly without paying much attention. But when I wrote it, it was well thought-out and deliberate.
And it is something I believe myself. In fact, Anna replies with, “Well, maybe we all do.”
I have an analytical mind, and I try to figure people out—what motivates them. It works well for writing fiction. It helps me get into the minds of my characters. If you don’t know your character’s motivation, you may end up writing flat, one dimensional characters instead of complex characters with many layers. People are complicated, so are well-written characters. That is what I strive for.
But, having an analytical mind in real life is not as helpful. I tend to over analyze things, wondering, why did she say that, or why did he do that. Then I move into, I would never treat someone that way. That is when I have to take a step back and realize that I, too, am looking at the world as I am. And it becomes a delicate balancing act.
Where do these traits come from? Some, I imagine, come from life experiences. But why do some people experience a tremendous amount of suffering and remain kind, cheerful, thoughtful, compassionate, and honest, while some people experience very little suffering and hold on to bitterness, anger, suspicion and self-absorption? Some traits must come from personality. I imagine it is different with each individual. But I have found that those that offer bitterness and anger to the world around them, most likely don’t like themselves very much. It is an internal struggle that seeps out into the world around them.
In the writing life, it helps me get into the minds of characters I have very little in common with. In the real world, it is a reminder to take a self-inventory every now and then, just to be sure I’m not harboring bad feelings, ready to be unleashed into the world on an unsuspecting soul.