Thursday, November 29, 2012

Human Nature - Situation Reaction

You made it over humpday, good people of the blogosphere! Welcome to Thursday. 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
As you can see, today is Situation Reaction. I love this topic! So, grab your pens and your handy-dandy notebook and let's get to it!

If you've truly given thought to your character, knowing how they will react in certain situations is easy to ascertain. Psychology tells us there are two basic reactive types and people will react to stress in certain ways depending on their internal makeup. Those two types are:
  1. Fight - This is where the person is facing a threat either bodily or mentally and they choose to face it head on. These types of people fight for themselves no matter the danger.
  2. Flight - Easy to understand, these people are runners. They're the ones who freeze up in the face of danger or avoid it altogether.
We had a heady debate in Psych 101 where I argued that someone who had never seen a gun (and had no idea what a gun was), wouldn't be scared if a gun were used to threaten them (even if they were a flight personality). I was thinking of Native Americans that were faced with the guns of the settlers. Until the Native Americans knew what a gun could do, they had no reason to have fear of one. Makes sense, no?

Making your character one or the other is central to your story. Understanding why they react the way they do is central to your character. It's simple, really:
  • Those who are fighters either don't care if they die or they don't have a lot to lose.
  • Those who fly are scared of death and know they have a lot to lose.
This can be played upon when threatening a loved one of someone who usually flies instead of fights. Take a mother who is complacent and a known flier and her child. Then, put that child in danger via a direct threat. You may be surprised at how quickly that meek flier turns into a snarling fighter. But why is that?

A simple answer would be the protective instinct. If we delve more deeply, we'll most likely find that woman first sought a way out of the situation before putting herself in harm's way. Ah ha! Now you have something to build on and a great source of tension for your novel. Keep in mind that the woman didn't simply change what type she was on a dime, rather that she had something more precious than her own life to worry about. We'll go into that further tomorrow during Thought Processes.

Which type of person we are is an inherent part of our nature. This applies to fictional characters as well. However, your character is on a journey and this is yet another way in which you can bring about change from page 1 to page 400. Remember, the best fiction comes from fact.

Question of the day: Have you ever been faced with danger? How did you react?

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


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