It’s the first Wednesday of the month again, time for a post for the Insecure Writer’s Support Group.
OPTIONAL QUESTION: What personal traits have you written into your character(s)?
MY ANSWER: I’m sure no one would be surprised by my answer. Many of my characters like to read, just as I do. Sometimes, the trait is involved in the plot. Other times, it isn’t, when it is irrelevant to the story, but most of my characters are readers.
It is pretty easy when a writer imbues her characters with her own likes and dislikes. We all understand ourselves, or at least, we think we do, so it is almost effortless, even enjoyable, to write such actions and emotions into our stories. Much harder is to make your characters do something that is anathema to you.
I’m working on a story now where my protagonist is so far from me as a person, I’m not sure we have even one trait in common. I’m struggling with one particular issue, and I’d like to vent it here.
My hero (let’s call him Tom) is a formerly military man searching for a recently orphaned, eleven-year-old girl to deliver her to her grandmother. He finds the foster couple the social services sent her to and discovers that the husband sexually abused the girl, and she ran away. Tom is blazingly angry. He still needs to find the girl, but before he continues his search, he wants to beat the sick bastard who abused her to a pulp. He could do it too: he has the training, he’s young and strong, and the logic of his personality demands the violence as a fit punishment for the pervert. But should Tom really beat the guy? Should I write the scene of the beating?
I’m an extremely peaceful person myself. I suspect I’m a coward. I never participated in any fights in my life. I avoid conflicts at all costs, but my hero’s fists are itching to punch the man who abused the innocent child in his care. I’m torn. Tom’s thoughts and actions are alien to me, but the story requires him to engage in a fist fight. Should I look for another solution? What do you think?