Seeing Characters

There are many ways of seeing characters. It’s tempting to decide the story determines what the characters look like. In truth, it is how the author sees the characters.

In old westerns white hats meant good guys and black hats meant bad guys. Around WWII Oriental and German characters changed into bad, sinister characters. During the Cold War Russians became the bad guys. Personal attitudes toward and experiences with different groups of people can color how an author sees characters.

Age is another problem. While getting my teaching certificate, a speaker brought some children of different ages to the classroom. The youngest one was positive a tall, skinny glass held more water than a short, fat glass even when the water was poured from one into the other. An older child knew the amount of water did not change.

Up to beginning high school age, young people are concrete learners. They want to see and touch things to learn about them. Sometime in the teen years abstract thinking clicks in.

Another age factor is obvious to me now. I can relate to much of how younger people think and feel because I was once that age. They cannot relate to how I think and feel as they have never been my age.

The challenge in seeing characters is to go past such clichés and biases so that the story does determine what the characters look and act like. In some stories like “Capri Capers” these are wanted by the type of story. Usually they are not. Then the big challenge is recognizing when you let stereotypes and biases creep into your characters.

As I struggle through Mounzz of Autumn, I find these creeping in. Names are a big part of this. For now I am ignoring the name problem as it is easy to fix. At least inserting new names is easy.

Some of the biases are working their way out as I rewrite the story as I finally recognized where they had inserted themselves. Personalities are emerging and, as these are written in, I am seeing characters more clearly which moves them away from the stereotypes.