Allow Your Characters the Space to Become Monsters

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Let your characters choose between right and wrong. See how they react in a situation. Sometimes they surprise you and they respect themselves far more than you think. Same in life, you have to let people choose to make the wrong decision. If you take away the chance for someone to choose between right and wrong one, they will never know if they were capable of making the right decision, and neither will you. Your mind will always wonder how bad they would have fucked up if you didn’t step in. You gotta let them be themselves. It gives them room to grow and trust themselves. Making mistakes is the most important part of growth.

So let’s just say we step back as writers after we place our character(s) into some fishy ass situation. Now we think from their past experience, do they know how to step away from something that will destroy their life? Have they learned yet to say no to self destructive behaviors? Are they constantly sneaking around and making bad choices? Why would this time be different? If you step in without thinking and don’t allow your characters to be honest with themselves, the future is going to become murky. The rest of the book will be built on this need for control that you have as a writer and you are going to have to delete the rest of the book and return to this point where you stepped in for your character. Which in turn doesn’t allow your character to be themselves but forces them to be what you want them to be.

Letting go doesn’t mean that you don’t care about someone anymore. It’s just realizing that the only person you really have control over is yourself.”— 

We want to be surrounded by people and characters who choose who they want to be because that allows them to be honest with us. When we surround ourselves with honesty it’s much easier to be honest with ourselves and grow into the person we were truly meant to be.

This means that your characters are going to do things that make you really upset. This means that you are going to have to forgive your characters. This means you’re going to have to have a healthy attachment to your characters. If they don’t piss you off, are you connected to your writing? If they piss you off to the point that you can no longer write their story in an honest way, is there something you’re hanging on to that’s hindering your inability to finish? These are questions we need to ask ourselves as writers within and outside of our stories.

Let people show you who they are. Let them write their own story. Let them destroy themselves. Let them become the hero of their own story. They might surprise you. They might disappoint you and do exactly what you thought. But either way they are going to grow from the experience. You are going to grow from watching them. They’ll show you who you don’t want to be or they’ll show you they are someone who you can truly admire.

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7 thoughts on “Allow Your Characters the Space to Become Monsters

  1. An interesting post. I had an editor suggest, recently, that one of my characters reacts too violently to a tragedy (he doesn’t kill another well-liked character but smashes his head into a rock wall). The editor wanted me to tone it down a touch so that the reading audience wouldn’t be turned off to the offender who is also a key protagonist. I hemmed and hawed about changing it because when I wrote it, the action felt authentic, shocking but authentic. You post has made me reconsider the change. Hmmm. Thanks for the insight.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh that is so interesting. I think your character can still react violently and the audience can know he reacted violently without adding too much detail. Or you can totally go for what you have.

      It’s funny I was just discussing this.

      As writers we can allow our characters to become violent but in real life there is a line where violence shouldn’t be tolerated. So the two worlds aren’t exactly equal until we as writers compare ourselves to God which is an entire different discussion hahaha but We can say we are God to our Characters.

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      1. I write fantasy and the book is the last in an apocalyptic trilogy so things are getting very tense. It wasn’t detailed at all, and compared to other things happening in the story, it was mild. And the offender ends up saving the victim’s life within a few paragraphs (so in my mind he’s redeemed). Gah! Decisions, decisions. Lol

        Liked by 1 person

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