Saturday, December 24, 2005

PC Holidays and Writing

Well here we are, it's Christmas Eve in my house ;) I've heard about the "War On Christmas"--though not seen anything remotely like that in person. I even tested it all over town while I was out shopping. I said, "Merry Christmas" to many, many folks: the nice boy who helped me put my groceries in my car so he could take the cart back into the store, a lovely girl at the checkout, the Salvation Army bell ringer, the greeter at Walmart, the lady beyind the counter at the post office, the young girl in the Mountain Mudd shack who knows what I love in my coffee--and just in general, anyone I might have had cause to interact with even minimally. In return, I got smiles and a "Merry Christmas to you too."

If there's a war on, it ain't hit my neck of the North Woods yet ;)

But it got me thinking, about writing, about how it's so very, very important to know what makes a character believe what they believe. I've known authors who have a very hard time understanding "the villain is the hero (or heroine) of their own story." In this way, I think authors have a very unique perspective on the "PC" world. We really need to be able to comprehend (even if we could never embrace) the beliefs, ideals, and personalities that are utterly opposite of ourselves.

It reminds me of that old wise wisdom about "knowing your enemy as you know yourself" (and if you know who or where that's from, let me know! :) ) and even if the 'opposite' character isn't *our* enemy per se, it's much the same.

I believe that those aspiring authors who balk at knowing their opposites so intimately will find their works lack the strength and believability needed for a compelling read, and hence make finding a home for their work all the more difficult. Imagine: a Christian author afraid to make an atheist heroic, a Wiccan author afraid to make an ultra-conservative heroic, a Liberal author afraid to make a Republican heroic. Or if not heroic for each of the above, at least sympathetic.

I believe this is where the 'cardboard' character arrives to dampen what otherwise might be a stellar work. So, no matter what might be "PC" to you, as authors, we all really need to shake up our comfort zones and explore, intelligentally and with an open mind, those areas of life that we would never have considered had we not picked up the pen and chosen the vocation of authorship.

Thoughts? Comments? What do YOU believe?

Merry Hakwanmas!! *GRIN*


Charity said...

Jenny, I think that may come from The Art of War by Sun Tzu

If you know the enemy and know yourself, you need not fear the result of a hundred battles. If you know yourself but not the enemy, for every victory gained you will also suffer a defeat. If you know neither the enemy nor yourself, you will succumb in every battle. ~ Sun Tzu

Have a very Merry Christmas!

J.R. Turner said...

Awesome quote Charity!! Love it ;) That's probably where that line evolved from. I had thought this might be the source, but as I've never read this book (though it's been recommended to me--I'm trying to work my way through a skyscraper TBR pile :) )

Thanks so much for the source!!