Sunday, January 15, 2017

Freedom of Thought

If you have been following me on Twitter for a while then you know that I can't resist making posts about politics, about cute puppies and kittens, or about various fictional apocalypses. I wanted to write today about something that I think is very important for fiction writers and authors to have. That is what I call the freedom of thought.

In spite of what you see me post, I talk with people who supported and some who still support Trump. I think it is important to keep the lines of communication open for any thoughts or ideas whether I agree or disagree with them. I will try to remain civil in the vast majority of cases, but I can tell you that I have been cursed out hundreds of times for putting forward an idea that someone else doesn't like. Ideas and stories are like Pokemon to me, I gotta catch 'em all.

Walk A Mile

They say I can't truly know someone until I have walked a mile in their shoes, but what do they say about that person's underwear? I'm uh... asking for a friend. I can't write without having some understanding of the characters in my story. I have to know every argument they are going to use and why. If I am going to write a character that would fall within a certain category then I have to take the time to try to understand them. If my character is like Trump or would have voted for Trump then I have to speak with conservatives to understand how they think. The same is true for writing people of different cultures, sexual orientations, gender identities, toenail colors, stances on Godzilla, etc..

The best way to get that understanding is to live like they do. Think about what they do on a day to day basis. Who do they speak with every day? What motivates them? Experiences will influence how someone thinks and reacts. Going through those same experiences, even if only in my mind, can help me to at least partially understand someone. With that understanding I still could get it wrong, but the fear of getting it wrong won't keep me from trying.


One thing I have noticed is that no one sees themselves as the villain. Even Darth Vader had justification for turning to the dark side. It wasn't only because he was evil. Emperor Palpatine wasn't evil for evil's sake either. He was a politician that wanted the power to fix things that needed fixing without others in the Senate squabbling over it. My biggest pet peeve in fiction is a character that does evil things because evil. How do they sleep at night if they can't justify their actions?

Nearly everyone justifies what they do before they do it if there is any question of morality involved with the action. Everyone makes mistakes, but at the time of making the mistake they have a reason for it. While plotting out things, before I write an outline, I go through every major decision my characters have to make. I have to justify my narrative and make sure the characters fit within the story I want to tell. I think about how each character that is affected by these decisions will react. More often than not each decision creates a chain reaction of events. Each decision has to be justified within that character's framework. A character on drugs might justify their actions saying that a unicorn promised them a rainbow if they did the thing. I'm going to do the thing anyway, but if someone would give me a rainbow I would be all the flails.


Doing your research and collecting these ideas gives you the freedom to confidently write the story you want to tell. It makes your characters feel more realistic and gives them a depth they wouldn't have had otherwise. It helps you avoid tropes that are harmful. No one writes perfect characters. All our characters are flawed messes of people. That is what makes them interesting. Just like our characters we are flawed. We mess up, but we can always try to do better next time. That is why it is important to listen to others. You never know when someone may be a bag of spiders waiting to be unleashed upon you. Don't make the bag of spiders angry OK?

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Writing Progress Updates

Virtual Wars: Running (Writing First Draft)
Current word count: 32,479
The Ghost Season 1
Editing: Page 11 of 47

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