… say it with a smile.
This post is a reminder to all that as in real life, characters can be jackasses too. I see too many stories in which all good characters are all good merry-sunshine and bad guys are all bad and evil and there is NO gray space.
Keep in mind that even “good” characters have their moments. Another pet peeve of mine is when there’s a bad guy that turns good, they turn all good. No, it doesn’t work that way. Have you ever noticed how often people you consider good still put their feet in their mouths? How, upon occasion, even you do?
Well I suppose this is kind of a real-life and story-life referencing blog, in which I recently had a situation occur in which somebody I consider a friend said something insensitive without realizing it was and didn’t apologize for it. It got me thinking… hmm. Everyone hates that when it happens… and have I ever done that to somebody? Guaranteed I have, everyone has.
Then I got to looking through my characters and certain ones thinking “god this character is a goody-two-shoes. And here I thought they had quirk!”
No, in reality, people can be jackasses as much as the next jackass and it doesn’t necessarily have anything to do with trying to be mean. It’s deeper than that. Perhaps it’s a topic that person feels so passionate about, their opinion just slips from their lips without thinking about how it’s worded, and perhaps feels so strongly about that topic that they feel no need to apologize for it. I noticed I am like that (upon occasion, most often I think about what I say first) but I am a firm believer in not apologizing for one’s opinion, even if it pisses other people off.
But there is a HUGE difference between that, and recognizing when how or what you said has hurt somebody close to you. But not to get insecure about it. It’s a fine balance. I feel even worse when I apologize or get insecure for something I just THINK might have hurt someone’s feelings.
I’ve strayed a bit, I suppose I’m simply saying- you know what? Just say it. If your character comes upon a situation they have a strong opinion about, just say it. But say it nicely. It’ll add conflict (the good kind), strengthen your readers opinion about that character (always a good thing) and if it’s not too mean, he/she won’t seem as mean.
Then again, I do have characters that will be jackasses and not apologize for their opinions no matter what, or much care about how they say things to others (even though they are generally good, honorable, kind people). They are most commonly (affectionately) referred to as, what else?… Jackasses.
“He shows up like a mist out of the blue. A jackass mist. That appears anytime you need a jackass.”
One of my favorite lines (dialogue) in my second series. (Character one has a habit of sneaking about and startling people. Character two [the person the dialogue belongs to] was pissed at him for an as yet unknown reason.)
I’m also saying don’t judge, people most often just don’t know how they sounded. Another good bit of conflict and character definition- something for them to improve upon. (Turns out, character number one had said something insulting to character two without realizing it. Of course, character two spent all book being pissed off in a funny bitter way, and character one had no clue as to why. It created neat conflict between two friends and they eventually sorted it out and learned from their mistakes, like any other conflict-resolution in story telling.)
But also keep in mind- not always is it good to voice your opinion (for instance, if you know it’s going to hurt someone’s feelings or cause a catastrophe) in which case, if you want even more conflict, don’t hesitate for your character to voice their opinion.
Well I’ve stated my opinion.
Wait, not all of it.
I must add, there are cases, where people ARE just jackasses, in which you should ignore them, and not let what they say get to you no matter how much you want to slug them for it. Also a neat conflict not-so-resolution.
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