A friend of mine recently asked me a question that gave me more perspective on my characterisations than I’d expected. It also made me ponder how a reader reads, and what part of my character impacts on a reader. Do all readers assume that a characters opinions, motivations and actions are an extension of the authors own personal standpoints.
I have to admit that there are parts of Dead Radiance that are truly an extension of my own personal opinion. My heroine is not a wilting miss, waiting for her knight to rescue her. She has a tough life, but she’s strong even if she takes a while to figure it out. She is able to trust even if she thinks she shouldn’t or couldn’t. She is able to believe things that her experience and knowledge tells her is improbable, even impossible. A kickass heroine that figures out that love may be awesome, the dude may be hot, but that she herself is the hero of her own story.
Nows this is my opinion- that men and women can find strength in themselves even when they are convinced they have none, that a kids can stand up for themselves even if somewhere deep down they don’t half believe they are worth it. That despite being a friend, and a girlfriend, a wife, a lover, a father, a mother, sister, son, brother or a daughter, that no matter what you are at whatever time in your life you find yourself- You are your own person and you are numero uno. It’s not to say you cannot be self-sacrificing, all it means is that strength and belief in your SELF comes from the realisation of self worth. And we are all worth it.
When I write, and I am sure this is the way for most writers, my characters tell me who they are. The feisty chick tells me she does not believe in herself. The b*tchy cheerleaders says she hotter and sexier and can’t stand the little nobody’s in school who have the audacity to think that are better than her. The dedicated geneticist is convinced that splicing ancient DNA with his own is a totally acceptable thing to do. The arrogant jock tells me he likes to beat up innocent girls and that’s okay because they damn well deserve it. The loner biker dude tells me he does what his father tells him to, no matter who he hurts in the process.
A special synergy with each character
Within the cast of characters in Valkyrie series, I, as an author, have to juggle fifty to a hundred different characterisations. Perhaps a single quality in each character however good or bad, might be my own, but there is a large contingent who would never be like me (lol- I ain’t no b*itchy cheerleader- never was and never will be) but I can understand aspects of her- her need to be loved, her vanity. There is more to her than meets the eye but the character knows that and I have to listen to what he/she tells me. I have to respect each characters motivations, history, experience and opinions. They are who they are, and all hell usually breaks loose if I try to mould them into something they are not.
Message vs Interpretation
Sometimes the author is sending a message – political, social or personal. Freedom, equality, respect, tolerance, empathy.
And sometimes what you see is what you get. The story is the story. End of story 😉
But, in the end, as a reader, it is your prerogative to make the connections, between the character, the story and yourself. To see the moral of the story, to identify the conflict as it applies to your own personal views and experiences.
We just write the stories. You must now enjoy them the way you want to.