Brightlord Kyle

Current Character Challenge In Writing Excuses

4 posts in this topic

(This Feb. the exercise is writing about a dead drop)

 

I am struggling in writing my main male character as unstable however, it just comes off as crazy. How, when, and where do I draw that line. I know in previous podcasts the fantastic four of authors have touched on how people will read things differently i.e. Angry can be misinterpreted as whiney. Examples would be wonderful!

 

My example below:

 

"Helio's vison darted through the insurmountable sea of bodies in the market, the slightest bump from a passerby causing him to jump and lash out."

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Hi Kyle, I'm not up to date with the podcasts, so not exactly sure what the challenge is, but if I was writing unstable, I'd be thinking about emotions changing for no obvious reason, perhaps going through two or three in a paragraph, or disproportionate reactions, which you are doing. Difficult to show in one sentence, but maybe some internal dialogue would help.

 

Another thought on reading your sentence. If he's lashing out at people in the market, he's going to get beaten senseless pretty quickly, I would think!

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Unless the instability is a new thing for this character, they've learned to live with it for a while.  Be sure you understand your character - what are the conflicting urges pulling them in different directions?  If they're in a delicate balance, what does that balance depend on in their regular life?  How have they learned to do this - what experiences formed this balance?  You don't need to explicitly lay this out, and you can imply to whatever degree you want - your character may even be wrong about themselves.  If you've created a fully formed person, that will show when you display their point of view.

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I guess you may have to research at least a little and look at different types of mental instability. As outsiders looking in we tend to lump people into large groups and label them "odd" "crazy" "weirdo" "dangerous" etc but the internal dynamics - the causative effects (?) or internal dynamics of individuals within each of those broadly labeled groups probably varies wildly. I think you need to dig more deeply into what the world is like for your character (are they delusional etc) and you can then use (and possible show through internal dialogue)  what is going on in their mind, and how they perceive the world, to generate believable and consistent behaviors - which may seem inconsistent to 'normal' people (as if such a thing existed) but really have there own type of consistency; there is a reason why people with a particular problem react a particular way and it is probably valid from their particular frame of reference.

 

In part episodes of the podcast they have talked about similar issues - like people with disabilities. You want to try to step into those shoes for just a bit and imagine what the world looks like from their eyes.

Edited by stormweasel
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