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Your Character's Politics

Tantz_Aerine at 12:00AM, Nov. 20, 2021
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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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comment

anonymous?

cdmalcolm1 at 3:23PM, Nov. 24, 2021

honestly? She don't care either way. She is selfish in the beginning. She is drawn to powerful people and make them do things bad against humanity as a villain. later in life, As a Superhero, her views changed to suit the better good. I'm not sure if I have a story where she is involved in any political debate. We will see.

PaulEberhardt at 8:34AM, Nov. 22, 2021

My main character will help a right-wing politician as much as a left-wing or liberal centre one, always providing they pay enough. She'll also make sure that their agenda fails nevertheless, because witches don't meddle in politics. I wish I could do that. She holds the view that no matter who governs things will essentially stay the same except for ending up more complicated and expensive. My own view is not that cynical, because I still recognise that governments may differ in how long excactly it'll take for them to screw up.

Kou the Mad at 9:59PM, Nov. 20, 2021

I found it easier just to make the Main Character a Raving Madman.

usedbooks at 3:54AM, Nov. 20, 2021

I read social media comments to write characters who think unlike me too. I don't know if I have politics in my writing, tbh. Modern society has politicized EVERYTHING. Is every opinion political? Are facts political? Are kids' birthday parties political? Seems like they are. :-P If by politics, we just mean government and laws, I don't think I write political things. The closest I came was having a character run for mayor. Even he didn't have a party line. It was in his character to run for office as a self-made philanthropist. Philanthropy doesn't have a party. Personal morals and ethics don't follow political parties -- although some parties platforms might better support your biases/prejudices/morals/belief system.

Andreas_Helixfinger at 3:14AM, Nov. 20, 2021

Well, my main character Molly who'd probably consider herself as apolitical. But if you as an outsider would want to place her in a political spectrum remiscent of the one we know of in the real, modern world it would probably be something along the lines of a FDR-style social liberal (I think), which I guess is not too dissimilar to me being a scandinavian style social democrat (I think). She's not the sort of person I think who'd so much express her own opinions on politics (which I would do. Usually privately in the right company) as much as she would express the actual effects of politics (which you'd most likely see her monolouge about in the comic). She'd talk about a certain political event or conduct or figure, analyze and bring forth her conclusion on what was really going on behind the scenes. She would certainly be matter-of-factual about it all, as she's a very practical minded, proof-before-belief sort of person (which I'm not entirely convinced that I am^^).

bravo1102 at 2:12AM, Nov. 20, 2021

I tend to do the same thing on Twitter. I've always been a bit of a listener and like to hear people gon on about their beliefs no matter how weird they are.


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