Tuesday, June 11, 2013

Back to our roots

When in a reflective mood we all sometime ponder the age old question...Who am I? What is my heritage? Is there something...more? As writers we get the unique opportunity to not only craft the backgrounds of our characters but the chance to explore the details of the events that shaped who they are now! 
Think about it....YOU decide the events and experiences that develop the psyche of your hero's and villains! The more depth and realism, the deeper you dig, the more you'll uncover...and the closer your protagonist (and antagonist) will be to feeling real! 
People are complex creatures...we all have light and dark...Yin and Yang. Even the most vile villain you can think of has to have some qualities, however slight, that allows them to at least understand their intended victims. The scariest monsters are those that can blend in and walk among us...unseen until they choose to strike!
In contrast, our hero's have to have fallibility's. A perfect protagonist that never makes a mistake is not only paper thick but boring! Layer your characters...maybe they excel at physical combat but they can't balance a checkbook...they plan and execute horrendous acts of violence but they love dogs. The possibilities are as endless as your imagination!
As in our own lives, your creations need to evolve. Nature abhors a vacuum...all things and people change. We are shaped not only by our experiences but by our interpretation of them! Assemble a hundred people to view the same event and you'll get a wide and varying description of exactly what happened and more importantly, why.
Why is crucial...madness may not have a reason but it can have a purpose! By putting your characters in impossible and unfamiliar situations you'll be forced to think their way out...be spontaneous and non-linear...then ask yourself...would that really work? 
My advice? If you want to amp up your writing style, NEVER stop experiencing new things yourself! Push your own boundaries and comfort zones...life is meant to be lived and experienced first hand. New challenges and experiences will give you perspective and insights into varying points of view. The smallest things can trigger the light bulb...never changed your own oil? Give it a whirl! Go to the local VA (or pick an outreach) and volunteer for a day or two. I guarantee you'll meet some fascinating people with rich stories to tell! Look at your own heritage...was your great-great grandfather a frontiersman? A merchant marine? A WWI ace? We each have chapters in our lives....seasons that come and go as our interest change. What we mustn't lose is the passion we possessed during those times...the excitement of the new and wonderful. Keep that and your writing can't help but shine!

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