Tuesday, November 27, 2012

Human Nature - Holding a Grudge

Happy Tuesday, good people of the blogosphere! This week I'm going to be discussing a few different facets of human nature as they relate to characters and writing. See the quick schedule below:

  • The Love Affair
  • Holding a Grudge
  • Seeking Revenge
  • Situation Reaction
  • Thought Processes
Day 2 is here so let's talk about Holding a Grudge. Grab your paper and pens and let's get going!

When we are wronged in some way, it tends to stick with us for a long period of time. Humans aren't equipped to deal with betrayal when someone has our perfect trust unless we work very hard at it. It makes us angry and, sometimes, we hold on to that anger far longer than we should. Letting go is an art form. This should happen the same way with your character. Remember to be true to life first.

If you have immortal characters, holding a grudge can be a good way to move toward Seeking Revenge. However, you can use a grudge from a betrayal to help your reader get a better sense of your character's personality. There are three basic types of characterization here:
  1. Never Letting it Go - These people can't get over even the smallest slight that's done to them by anyone. They allow hurts and betrayals to fester and boil. It destroys friendships, families, and possibly entire worlds in its wake. Pain is taken to a bitter place and makes the person ugly on the inside. But, on the bright side, this person is an honest one who refuses to lie about how people make them feel. On the dark side, it usually leads to Seeking Revenge and the character never trusting another person. Ever.
  2. Pretending to Let it Go - People who pretend to let it go but don't really are the ones most commonly found. Most people don't want anyone to know they hold the grudge so will pretend like the act of betrayal didn't bother them as much as it did. These are the people plotting a slow death via a sneak attack against whoever wronged them in the first place. They may still be friends with the person who did them wrong; but it's all an act. It's almost impossible for them to forgive completely. Relationships with others become strained from this person's POV. Everyone else should believe things are fine. This person oftentimes also never trusts anyone else but they also never let on they feel that way.
  3. Forgiving Completely - Complete forgiveness takes a special kind of person. These are ones who will try to see all sides of the picture and gather an understanding of why the wrong was done in the first place. Now, that's not to say this person will continue to be friends with the person who committed the wrong; it's just that they won't hold the hurt in their heart. There's no revenge plotting going on with this type of person; they just release the other into the wild and bid them adieu. This person will trust another blindly and will oftentimes end up hurt again down the road the same way. It's a vicious cycle.
All three of these types of people make great characters. If you use the first, you can create either a really evil character or one who is very honest. Perhaps they move on to Seeking Revenge, perhaps not. But it's that difference that will make or break the persona you create. When using the second, you're guaranteed to create a lying, backstabbing, vengeful character who grows bitter. Special characters should be reserved for those that you want to be good through and through. This is not to say they can't struggle with the decision. It also doesn't mean they can't start out as type one. Hell, it's a journey, right? Change them in that way.

You're the writer. These are all decisions you make as you write (or before you begin). Remember that in order to have a character who reacts appropriately to a situation, you first must have a deep understanding of every facet of their personality. You may change them along the way, but it needs to be part of the journey.

Question of the day: What's the most common type you've encountered?

Well, that's all for today, folks! Until next time, WRITE ON!


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