Don’t believe your characters

I loved this post by . How many times have I used a character to retell the history of my hero or heroine? Tons…and each time, I fail to take into account the impact personality and memory biases would have on the tale. My character told the story exactly as it happened. That’s unrealistic.

It would be more interesting if my character forgot something, a part, that messed up the story. It would also be more interesting if they were biased against the hero and told an edited version of the story.

Reality says that even if they weren’t biased or had forgotten something, they’re not reporters. They’re people. They weren’t simply standing around waiting for the events to happen so they could remember them. They were busy living. They probably remember what they were doing that day more than what actually happened.

Ms. Fairwin mentions two main reasons against a character remembering things accurately.

Positive Emotion, “… positive emotion following the accomplishment of a goal—like feeling good after seeing your favourite team win at a sport—can lead to attention and memorybroadening. In other words, you’re more likely to take in and remember the details that are a core part of the scene—like the players as they’re battling it out for sports supremacy—and the background details—like the setting in which this heroic battle is taking place.”

Negative Emotion, “As with feeling positive emotion when pursuing a goal, negative emotion can narrow attention and memory to the core features of a scene. And it makes sense—if something causes you a negative emotion, like fear or anger, it’s likely a threat, and so you zoom in on the thing making you feel that way. The stuff around it is less important and so you’re less likely to remember it.”

Excellent tips. A great post and one that got me thinking of all sorts of possibilities for my book! A big thank you to Skye Fairwin for the inspiration!