We all strive to make believable characters. What have you done as a mun to write your character believably? Do you think you have successfully pulled this off? How do you as a writer keep your character balanced and believable?
I read an article recently that suggested that one should balance muses, if one loved them, so that they had flaws. And the test of whether such a flaw was genuine was whether one, as a writer, found the flaw annoying or would dislike it were it real. It was suggested that love of a muse tended to lead towards agreeing to, approving of or being able to justify all of a muses actions, and that that would mean the muse was too good to be true. It suggested that sorrow made a muse rather less than more real, but that inexcusable behaviour served to make him balanced.
I read an article recently that suggested that we create a world and a worldview with our muses that should be true. And the test of whether it was true was whether it was realistic, if muses would do as they do in one’s writing as people would do in the real world. Would, it asked, they really be apt to murder or harm others, and if they would, it further queried, is that what one ought to be writing and so promoting, even as a ‘meme?’
In response, for my own edification, and hopefully to improve my writing and portrayal, I should like to address the way in which I write John.
Now, I love John. And my reason for writing is to understand and to become. There is no question that he murdered and harmed others (all right, there are questions from some quarters, but I dismiss them.) John was real. He really did those things, to real people. And he really ached and really suffered. What stood out in his mind, from the few words we have left from him, was that he believed in what he had done and in its nobility - that whatever means he used and whatever had come, he had done his very best and meant to continue, “though Hell should bar the way.” And he sacrificed and mourned.
As far as the first article goes, there is nothing in him that I would condemn, nothing I would dislike or find annoying or unjustified. One thing I learned, to some small surprise – and John showed me this - is that I too am willing to forgive anything in some
people. It is not even a case of forgiveness, but of simply accepting the usually unforgivable as simply part of a person. Instead of saying ‘how terrible’ he would say ‘how marvellous.’ He was surely this way, living it unto deadly extremes. And he is of course exemplar to me. This is the way that John is to me – whatever he is or does, I do not forgive but embrace.
The other question is whether I ought to be writing John’s darkness. Is it justifiable? I have an exact worldview I am trying to show. It is not a pretty one. There are many criticisms that could be levelled against it. It is absolutist - all or nothing. John loved, or dismissed. He had exact things he valued and he was willing to do anything for them. How easy to say “I would die for you. I would do anything for you.” How easy to say “I will not lie” or “I will do my best.” But how strange, cold and brutal to actually mean it, to actually do it. John destroyed his life several times, losing everything for principles. For principles he set in motion events that killed those he loved. He set himself to die for his friends, again and again – even for strangers that potentially could
have been his friends. He worked at his trades coldly, brutally, mathematically, until he was simply the best.
Selfish Bat said of him, and it is selfish. It leaves no room for others, for weakness, for humanity. It takes away the thing most precious, most hotly, jealously and fearfully defended by everyone else – their unique identities. How can you face a man who is prepared to die, who is prepared to give or do anything
? What is left for you? There is no higher trump card.
I try to show him. Is this justifiable? I do not care.
The other question is whether I succeed with him.
He was shaky and nervous in social situations. He cried and feared. At the same time he was determined and absolutely sure of himself. He killed without remorse and was fatalistic enough to throw himself to the wolves when he deemed it right. He loved and hated and dismissed people fully. Most people, most real people, do this as shadows. For him it was honesty and honour. It is required in these days to value all life as meaningful. John did not care. How strange, how brutal. He was jealous, impulsive, proud, violent and obdurate. He talked too much. He was loyal and honest to emergency and embarrassment – everyone said that the best move the lawyer made in the gunfight trial was to refrain from putting John on the stand.
There is sorrow, and John has a great deal of that. The article discounted that as a factor in a muse’s reality. It said it made a character rather more sympathetic rather than less so – that is lead to credit rather than flaws. John is ill. John has lost everything – home, family, profession. John has faced injustice and lost. John is lonely. John is nervous and shy. John cannot sleep. Mainly, these are the things I write about.
I write about what occupies his mind when I ask him.
Is this balanced?
He is the first to look inside himself and to apologise if he believes he has done wrong, to consider his actions, to analyse them. He changes and learns. He feels. He hates and loves. Is he as caring as I see him? Is he as callous? Is he as strong as I see him? Is he as tentative? He is always a gentleman, but he was
always a gentleman. Perhaps this hides too much of his general antipathy as I write, but gain, he always hopes to find something else.
Name: John H. Holliday, DDS.
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Word Count: 1026 (excluding poll)
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Nulli Virtute Secundus