Wednesday, February 20, 2013

#Writing Wednesday: Imperfect Characters are Believable


 

You ever read a book or watch a movie and think that would never happen in real life?  Heck, I know the feeling.  I had it recently when watching the Bond movie Goldeneye with Pierce Brosnan.  You know the intro part where he rides a motorcycle off a cliff in pursuit of a crashing plane.  Yeah, as you guessed it (if you haven’t seen the movie), Bond catches up to the plane and saves it from crashing and makes his getaway.  Yeah, right.   Now that’s stretching credibility!

But maybe your thoughts are on a scene of a book you’re reading and the main character slips up or overlooks something they should have picked up on.  You think they should have it all together and be right on top of things.  But is that how it works in real life?  When you’ve faced a heartbreaking situation have you always made wise choices?

Think about the circumstances surrounding the scene.  Is the character experiencing emotional distress, or are they experiencing fatigue?  If you think about things from this perspective the scene may begin to make more sense.  Of course, that may not always be the case.

You’ve likely heard of the phrase, real life is stranger than fiction.  The saying holds merit.  Yet, when it comes to fiction, we as authors are advised to stay within guidelines and boundaries.  While it’s true some exist, an author shouldn’t be encumbered by a large list of rules.

My advice is simply to put yourself in your character’s mindset, and if something does or doesn’t happen, there’s a reason for it and (within reason) it’s logical.