Tuesday, February 23, 2016

A Study in Contradiction

This weekend I accompanied my friends to a particularly crowded mall in a particularly crowded city where I was startled by an unexpected surprise. If you know me at all, this is not my element (vast dislike for surprises). But this did open up an interesting vein of thought for myself, as a writer and human in general.

On the writer side of things, I tend to make a study of people: strangers, friends, family members. Saturday's adventure offered plenty in the "stranger" category. Malls, anyone?

I like to watch people; see their mannerisms, the way the walk, talk, and smile when they think no one else is looking. People are interesting.

Which has brought me to a conclusion. While I believed myself to be studying people, I've really been studying something else: contradictions.

People are contradictions of themselves. This is a wonderful revelation for a writer! With this knowledge characters can be rounded out, villains can be loved as well as hated, and plot decisions will be hailed as that makes sense instead of why did you do that, stupid?!

Confused? Let me explain, using myself as an example.

I adore romantic anything and everything. But the idea of having someone to romance makes a million fears explode in my mind.

Surprises (as stated above) are not my cup of tea because they can't be planned. But at the same time, I relish the excitement of expecting one thing and something even better happens.

I love to have my alone time. But after awhile, I get lonely and crave the attention of someone else.

The very word adventure sends a thrill through me. But I have a very hard time jerking myself out of my comfort zone to experience said adventure.

Get my point? 

We are species of contradictions, so our characters should be too. Have a hopeless romantic afraid of falling. A guy who loves marine biology, but is terrified of swimming. Conjure a villain bent on destruction, but desires above all to keep her family safe.

Not only do these quirks make characters realistic, but they also add conflict. Because, really, where would the magic be if we didn't have something to overcome in life?

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