Honesty Pt. 2


Previously I wrote how I feel that people often do not want the level of honesty they ask for.  Often our friends and family claim they want absolute honesty from us, but if we give it, despite being gentle, it backfires.  I recognize this isn’t always the case, but it is something that appears to happen quite frequently.  For us writers, feedback is essential to our business.  We need to know if our stories and characters are relatable to our audience.  Honesty of people also plays a role in characterization.  Characters are believable based on their interactions with each other and the world around them in the story.

It is difficult when you spend months or years crafting a tale and making it available to the public.  Will readers enjoy it?  Will your audience connect to the characters as well as you have?  Just as we ask for honesty in our relationships, us writers should not only ask for, but accept honest feedback when it comes.  When we put so much of ourselves into a book, we must fight our urge to get defensive when someone doesn’t react the way we would like.  A book an author has written is like his child, but that doesn’t mean we should dismiss any criticism.

Sometimes though readers simply miss the point or bring their own presuppositions to your novel and that taints their experience.  Sometimes there are things us authors can do to remedy that, but usually not.  For my first short story I got feedback that it needed more to the story, but that was at a time when both sequels were published and “more” was already available.  Some of my feedback, especially with the first book, was a little disappointing but incredibly valuable.  Everyone will form an opinion on your works, that is inevitable, and like all opinions, discernment must be utilized.

In order for authors to create well-rounded characters they must be familiar with real people and themselves.  Honesty, and how people react to it is a key component to crafting characters.  How well will the cast within the story respond to honesty?  Do some prefer lies?  No?  Why not?  There are many people in the real world that do.  These are things that we must ponder.  Not only though how a character responds to honesty, but why do they react in a certain way?  This is where my observations on honesty in the last post ties together with my writing.  I hope that as I continue to learn about others and myself I am able to better hone my writing skills.


frushiansRecently, I heard powerful testimonies from a few people who endured several hardships.  It got me thinking about characterization in fiction.  We as reader’s demand that the characters grow and change over the course of a story.  That’s what makes characters relatable and intriguing.  On the other hand, we have all known people who remain pretty much the same throughout their entire lives.  They maintain the same behavior as they did in high school or earlier, even well into their fifties and beyond.

These people who would be labeled as “static” characters in fiction may have children, have gotten married, maintain a home and mortgage, but still excessively party and have an immature black and white view of the world.  Especially with all the explosive controversies arising lately. I have seen people from older generations have an “agree with me or you are evil” perspective.  Now, I understand I’m only getting a small glimpse of these people’s lives on the internet, but there are writings and social media posts from some folks that maintain a similar theme, “I’m right and everyone else is wrong.”  There are of course, issues that should be black and white, but immature virtue signaling that appears to be all too prevalent.

I heard a quote, “If you aren’t growing you are either stagnant or regressing.”  That means if we are not actively seeking out growth than we are at very least staying the same.  It is entirely plausible to have a story of static characters and have it be “realistic.”  That would not be an engaging tale that most wouldn’t finish.  We expect growth and change from fictional characters, but what if we held ourselves to the same expectation?  In the real world, true well-rounded people who are constantly growing sometimes seems like the exception.  Imagine if that was the case in fiction?  Everyone would undoubtedly be bored.  It is easy to fall into the rut of routine of work, bills, and general numb feeling to the day to day life.  I challenge myself and those reading this to work toward growing a little every day.