Authors Answer 3 – Character Beliefs

Well, isn’t that an appropriate topic, given the events of last Friday?

Right, let’s get this out of the way. I’m not usually given to political statements, but I suppose I can make an exception now and then.

I am not a social media addict by any means. I have a Facebook account, both personal and as an author, and while I always have it open in the background, I don’t spend my time obsessively following other people’s posts. Twitter is still a mystery to me, and I do little more than link this blog to my account and follow back everyone who follows me if I don’t dislike what I see.

Anyway, I’ve seen a lot of reactions to the terrorist attacks in Paris. Thankfully, most of them have been supportive, not only of the Parisians, but also of the many hundreds of thousands of muslims who are as appalled as everyone else at what has happened. Probably even more so, actually, since the terrorists purport to do what they do in the name of their religion.

Unfortunately I have also seen one or two posts that lay the blame at the feet of islam, and which (inadvertently?) spread the hatred these terrorists inspire to the wrong people. Today I actually unfriended someone for doing that once too often.

From my recent jaunt into the realms of the Biblical you will have surmised that religion is not my thing. However, I hope I have also been clear that I am not bothered by other people’s religious beliefs, provided (and this is extremely important) you don’t try to impose those beliefs on me or anyone else. Religion should be a personal thing, and anyone trying to impose their religious views on anyone else needs to stop. This counts for IS terrorists as well as the idiots trying to ban gay marriage or campaigning to close down abortion clinics in America.

If you want to hate people, hate them for what they do or say, not for what they believe in. And that’s all I’m going to say on the matter.

But this segues nicely into this week’s question: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs from you?

I think the answer is, very difficult. That said, I’ve never really tried yet. My three books so far have been lightweight romantic romps, where deep-seated personal beliefs have not really featured that much. When they have, such as in The Coup, where the main antagonist sees non-sorcerers as inferior beings, these beliefs are not held by my main characters.

I suppose one of the biggest issues here is whether these characters are ‘good guys’ or ‘bad guys’. I’m sure it’d be much easier to write a bad guy with beliefs totally opposite to mine. Doing it for one of my good guys? Ehh, I think it’d feel very iffy. I admire my friend Hillary for being able to write her main protagonist as a devout light-follower with knee-jerk reactions of revulsion when confronted with followers of the shadow, even when it becomes apparent pretty early on that the Light is actually quite horrible. True, his beliefs are challenged throughout his story, and he does change his views gradually, but that’s a proper character arc.

Me, on the other hand? I have difficulty even making my characters like colours I don’t like myself. But there’s no way I can let a lady of the court only wear black, red and purple, so I’ve forced myself to let Sita wear green and bronze and blue and any other colour I wouldn’t wear myself. My characters believe in the Gods, but they very much view them as aloof beings who don’t intervene in the day to day life of humans. My world doesn’t even have priests – I’m too much of an atheist to invest much in an imaginary religion. It probably shows in my books, but I suppose I’m just a very limited writer in certain respects.

Who knows? Maybe in future I’ll be challenged at this. I’ll just have to see how I do when it comes to that.

Original post on this subject can be found here.

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7 thoughts on “Authors Answer 3 – Character Beliefs

  1. Pauline M. Ross

    I’m really glad you’re doing this. I missed most of the original Authors Answer series, for some reason, so it’s good to see the idea revived, and with links to the originals.

    These questions are really interesting. Do you think anyone would mind if I posted my own answers on my blog (with attribution to the originals, of course)?

    Reply
    1. Erica Dakin Post author

      I suppose you ought to ask Jay Dee Archer, since he started the series, but I’d imagine he won’t mind, especially if you link back to his blog as well. I know I’ll be interested in your answers!

      Reply
    2. Jay Dee

      No problem. I don’t mind at all. Of course, the Authors Answer series is still going on, having just started its second year this month.

      I never thought this would inspire others to answer the same questions on their blogs. It’s a pleasant surprise 🙂

      Reply
      1. Jay Dee

        Well, you’re not the only one to get an idea from other blogs. I’ve done it, too. But I haven’t had a long series to follow, just a single post.

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