Seeing Reality Through A Fictional Character’s Eyes

Breathing life into fictional characters isn’t always easy. As writers, we try not to mold characters directly from people we’ve met. We try not to mold them from ourselves. But, we all know that our characters are a combination of many people, including a piece or two of ourselves.

To create new and interesting characters, writers often put themselves in their character’s shoes for a moment. To make the scene or dialog realistic, we all have some sort of visual of our characters and an idea of their personalities. They’re not real people, yet we try to imagine how they see the world before them. We, as authors, try to write the root of that character – the why and how of their thoughts and actions.

And all the while, I think authors learn more about different perspectives. Because we’ve had to rationalize a character’s feelings or beliefs, we now see how others in real life might feel about that same subject. After all, as I’ve said, fiction or not, we try to make our characters act and think as realistic as possible.

I can’t help but think of Professor Snape in Harry Potter. From the start, a good portion of readers disliked Snape. As the story went on, they may have distrusted him, too. But what of the end? Didn’t we all feel differently? Snape ended up having as many fans as Harry, I think.

Writing about a teen might make you think differently about the younger generation. Writing about a priest might shed a viewpoint on religion you hadn’t given much thought about. The story of a person with a terminal illness might make you appreciate life a little more.

Part of this new perspective comes from the research we had to do, surely. But does it stop there? Have you ever come away from reading or writing a work of fiction with a different perspective on something? I’m not saying you come away thinking completely opposite of what you thought going in to the story, but just enough to see something you hadn’t before.

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5 thoughts on “Seeing Reality Through A Fictional Character’s Eyes

  1. There was a scene in Avalon’s Return where Kendra very violently exacted revenge on someone for doing something awful to her (something that in a “lesser” way had happened to me).

    For years after the event, I wanted some sort of revenge. I wanted him punished in a painful and life-altering way.

    Then I wrote Kendra’s scene, and being able to project that anger and (yes) hate into the work, I’ve spent my revenge. Writing it allowed me a degree of release from what I’d held inside for fifteen years.

    I don’t know if reading something has ever directly altered me as a person, but I can say for sure that writing something has.

  2. Reading about things doesn’t tend to effect me unless its something that tickles my funny bone. However like Julie, theres things in life that you wish you could either have said x or done y. Writing allows you to be as evil or as witty as you wish. For example I devised a torture. Its a modern twist on the old Impalement. What it involves is a carefully balanced chair on top of a pike. The person keeps themselves from going down by keeping thier cheeks tightly squeezed and then they’re force fed Phenophalin. Yup, they get to grease thier own way down.

    Its devious, its completely evil and yes, there are people I’ve wanted to do it to. Likewise when I write I’m a Malevolent God. Yeah, you do something bad to someone, you better believe that somethings going to happen to them thats not only evil but should spread a message to the world at large.

    I suppose its a way of therapy in a way and can be envigorating but thats the way I sort of role. As the old Italian saying goes, Vengeance is a dish best served cold and whilst consequences may take time to arrive you better believe me its like a fine wine, it gets better with age.

  3. Snape was always my favorite! Just saying… 🙂

    Yeah, I have gotten different perspectives from writing things. I hope to get many more, it makes you rounded.

  4. Yeah, I tend to identify with the bad guys, too! Mostly I come away with a sense of how the writer sees things. But I do love that as a reader I can live through the fictional character and be someone I could never be in real life.

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