So there's an art to writing characters with strong political agendas when you also happen to be a creator that has a strong political stance. I happen to be a person with very strong political views and ideology and ironically in my comic Without Moonlight absolutely nobody shares my position. No, not even my main characters!
There's good reason for that- nobody at the time in Greece, within this particular framework, would realistically hold my political position. (If you're curious, I'm a direct democrat)
Still, you'd think it's easy to write some of the guys (and gals) who hold political positions similar enough to where I stand.
It is not.
When I write each character, I have to constantly double check and self-check that I'm not making that character my mouthpiece. Sure, certain views are shared between me and the character talking, but I still have to make sure that the way they're phrasing, conceiving, and framing the position comes from their point of view and their background rather than mine.
I may agree with Basil that women are independent people who can't and shouldn't be controlled by men or society, but he still felt it was his responsibility to make some executive decisions for her sake, as he still would have felt that it would be his responsibility to provide for their family regardless of what Martha chose to do with her time (which for a 1940s Greek guy was insanely progressive anyway). He certainly would feel that direct democracy leads to anarchy and wouldn't be a fan, so he would disagree with me. All of this I have to convey in his way of talking, even when he's on a soapbox about something we both agree on.
And that's the easy part. The hard part is to write characters with politics completely different to mine without painting them as terrible people or idiots (unless they happen to be regadless of their political affiliation. I've been trying to include a range of personalities for most/all political stances).
Writing conservative people is hard- in my book a conservative person can be on the left or the right. The quality that makes them conservative is the strict and almost dogmatic adherence to whatever creed they ascribe to, with little room for negotiation or discussion. The ‘if you’re not with us you're against us' crowd, if you like.
In a good sense, when writing dialogue for them I need to think like a conservative person and that is hard. It's hard not because the way of thinking is hard but because it's easy to be stereotypical about it. A hardliner communist that goes “comrade” and talks about “the means of production” every other sentence would definitely be recognized as such, but all aspects of his personality would be completely overshadowed by stilted speech. Same goes for a hardliner royalist or a right-winger.
And of course, then, there's the nazis. Writing nazis is the hardest thing for me because it's hard not to make them all look like they're auditioning for Bavmorda's posse. The hardest thing is to weave in callus disregard for whoever is deemed ‘not human’ within pedestrian chats and discussions, as that had been the way many young people in the NSDAP were raised to talk. The hardest thing is to write them as thinking themselves the good guys or at least not-the-baddies.
I was trying to quantify a way of doing it so I could offer a set of steps to writing characters with different politics but I could really find any so I opted for a stream of thought approach. The main way I approach it is by acquiring as many experiences of people that don't agree with me as I possibly can.
And funnily enough, that place where I often do it is twitter. I rarely block people for their political stances. Instead I gather tweets- especially tweets they write when talking to people of the same political stance as themselves. That includes everything from alt-right, nazis, and fundamentalist theists to flat-earthers, anti-vaxxers, hardliner neoliberals, royalists, and everything else.
This helps me get a feel for their turns of phrase, general countenances across personalities, and triggers. It is then easier for me to transpose that to the 40s, with the turns of phrase, triggers, and conventions of the time.
It still is a headache. But I like it anyway. Dialogue is my favorite thing to figure out.
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Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 20, 2021
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