Writing the victim

4 06 2015

Victim_role-300x239I’m battling with my story characters. They have spent a long time not dealing with things, and as such have made themselves victims. The family is destroyed, the relationships between members are severed, and at least one child is severely harmed, and all because the family jointly determined they were victims and pulled the horribleness into bed with them.

It’s not that I don’t sympathize. God knows I’ve been a sucky victimish-assuming type now and again. But it’s hard for me to get into the let’s not deal with things until they destroy ourselves mindset.

Nope, I’m more active. I push at things until disaster hits me full in the face. Why wait, I figure? Why not bring it right on immediately, and devil take the hindmost if other people aren’t ready to take it on at the same time…

Not that that’s any better, mind. In fact, it’s often worse. But it’s where my bull-in-a-china-shop mind takes me. So dealing with my more passive characters is a challenge. And it’s very instructive. The more I write them, the more I find it hard to write them.

In amongst this, I find myself less tolerant of victims in general.

Writing is SUCH a fascinating work. In the midst of this story, which I started writing because I was feeling victimized myself, I discover an intolerance I thought I didn’t have. And it’s making it hard to identify with my characters.

So what this tells me is that I’ve got to find additional depth in the characters I’ve written. It’s like finding that one good thing in an evil character that redeems him or her, makes the character believable and even likeable. I’ve got to find that strength in my characters that makes me like them, challenged as they are. Because we all do have that strength, the strength to choose the life we want.

Yeah, sometimes we get kicked to the curb, by circumstance, by illness, by lack of resources – but we can control the way we face those challenges. We can stop pulling that comfy blanket of denial and other-blame over our heads and step out into the chill, shake our arms and stomp our feet, and take steps in the direction we want to go. If nothing else, we can change our attitude to the life we are leading and make a positive corner in it.

We may never get to our goals, but we for sure won’t get there by blaming others for our shortcomings or bad choices. At least if we’re walking on our own, we know why we are taking small crooked steps.

Or, in the case of my characters, we can take responsibility for what we didn’t do, and make amends.

Sigh. So back I go….

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One response

4 06 2015
bethanyroseartin

“Writing is SUCH a fascinating work.” Yes. It’s similar when writing a hero. You draw on a situation from your own life, make the character do something more heroic or daring than you did, and then wonder – why didn’t I do that? And resolve to become a little more heroic or daring.

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