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.