Friday, 8 June 2012

Writers Who Take Entrenched Positions

Over the last couple of days I've been a casual bystander for a few online squabbles and scraps ranging from Mac v PC, self-publishing v traditional publishing, the definition of 'legacy' and so on.  On Twitter I've also quietly unfollowed a few people with trenchant political opinions which they show no shyness in sharing, or those who are constantly plugging their books despite the fairly well known advice that it's counter productive.

But part of me is fascinated by those who a) have such strong opinions and b) seem to show a complete lack of awareness that others might not share them.  I have opinions, but rarely feel the need to share them with other people.

To me, that's part of being a writer.  I spend so long thinking about people's point of view in fiction, trying to get inside their heads, that seeing things from all angles gets to be a habit.  Character X may behave badly, but if I don't understand why, if I'm not at least aware of the reasons behind the behaviour I won't be able to write X with any conviction.  And when X is speaking of their opinions I have to believe them regardless of what they are or the dialogue won't ring true.

I've trained myself to think from other people's point of view, and that has passed into my life.  If some one real does something or says something I disagree with, I immediately think about why they think that and try to see it from their point of view. It tends to take the heat out of things.

So when I see writers banging on and on about this or that, I wonder what their writing is like.  It makes me feel that it will be populated by one dimensional characters who all sound the same.  Anyway, that's my opinion and I'm sticking to it...


Shauna said...

I totally agree. I'm often amazed at a person's total lack of awareness that there might even be a different point of view.
I think some people are so tightly zipped into their own skin they find it impossible to recognise there might be a different way to look at something.

I hadn't followed that thought through to what their writing might be like, but an interesting idea.

Writer Pat Newcombe said...

You make a good point about people who shove their views down others' throats. Live and let live, I say, and we should all be able to respect each others differing points of view. ( at least in an ideal world!) I tnink we can mostly see others' points of view - it's just that when we feel strongly we become passionate and lose our perspective.

penny simpson said...

Great post Sarah. I think the only thing I am trenchant about is my hatred of Twitter(!) and Gordon Brown. I digress - as a writer for my half the fun is writing a character with firm opinions and then having to explore the views of the character with the opposing view. I started a novel once which took the story on from three different people's perspectives and I found it one of the most enjoyable things I've ever written, and quite easy. That's because using differing points of view negates the use for back story or much exposition.

Paul Sampson said...

Going to have to be boring and join in with a me too. Although I believe Ms Simpson maybe ought to try seeing the world from Gordon Brown's point of view before sharing like that. Tee hee.

penny simpson said...

Hi Paul - it's Penny.

Never thought that a brooding lump of granite porridge sulking in a lair would make much of a plot, but...!