Wednesday, December 28, 2011

My Personality Flaw

When I was younger, I had this character flaw, only at the time I hadn't realized it was a flaw. See, I often found myself judging people. Now, I know what you'r thinking, that judging is a normal human thing. And I would completely agree with you except that I took it a step (or more) farther than most.

I pigeon-holed folks.

Basically, I would compile a list of their character traits in my mind and then find the best "personality hole" to stuff them in, forevermore equating everything they did and said as a person from that "personality hole". In time my thoughts sounded a bit like this: "oh he's making _______ mistake because he's _______ type of person." See? Gross huh?

A while ago I noticed this about myself and worked hard to ignore that nagging voice in my mind that yearned to pigeon-hole others. I got pretty good at silencing that voice too. Until about a two years ago. Yah, that's when it all changed. That's when someone openly pigeon-holed me. More than a someone, but a whole group of someones who I mistakenly thought were close family friends.

Of-course they were all wrong in their assumptions, but it taught me a huge lesson and completely silenced that judgmental voice within me to the point of non-existent. I didn't even have to fight it.

Last night I had a dream, and it's something I've been doing a lot. See, lately I've been kind of stuck with Dark Waters, my WIP. I've edited it a few times, had critique partners scour it and beta readers enjoy it, but I just don't feel like it's ready. I had prayed recently for help, for direction, so I'm not shocked that about once or twice a week I get a dream with a puzzle piece answer to my questions. In my dream was a particularly irritating man who despite my best efforts, I couldn't get along with. Finally, in my dream, I ended up getting so fed up with him that I placed him in a pigeon-hole as a way to explain his behavior.

When I woke up, I immediately understood the point of that dream. You know how "they" say to write what you know? Well, we know this transcends into personalities too, but I had been too afraid to touch the particularly irritating people in my life. To use pieces of their personalities. I think one of the points of the dream was to use those people, to not shy away from the abrasive, frustrating characters in my life as far as using them in my fiction because it's normal and natural to have those types of people so my protagonist should also experience those types.

Secondly, when writing, it's okay to pigeon-hole. In fact, that makes for a more rounded character. I've been so against judging others that I have completely failed at judging my own characters! God made me, He has every right to judge me. I created my characters and I have every right to judge them too! I need to know that they do this and that because their this type of person.

I realize this eye-opening stuff is probably obvious to most, but it's a pretty big deal to me so I wanted to pass it along just in case it can be helpful to someone else. What do you think? Do you make it a habit to judge your characters?        


  1. This is a really great way of looking at character creation and inclusion of a certain type of character in our stories. It only makes them more real if we add little tidbits from our own experiences (like that seriously annoying thing that so and so does all the time). The key is making sure they don't know you're using them for inspiration lol ;) Thanks for sharing this!

  2. I love the thought of judging your characters! I had really never thought of it that way before. And yes, I have a hard time writing infuriating characters, too. :)

  3. I know Jaime, I have to figure out how to use the annoying without them knowing! :)

  4. Thanks Peggy! It's funny, I'm okay with adding trials into my characters lives, but saddling them with the types of people that push my own buttons just seems down right cruel! :)

  5. Interesting! It's cool that you understood how to use an aspect of your dream like that. I don't know if I judge my characters or not. I'd have to think about it...