Sleep-deprivation and characters

I’ve done it. Notably, I’ve just done it with my current hero, Klias. He’s sleep-deprived in a big way. And still, he handles stressful situations without a hitch. Not a single consequence from his lack of sleep.

Oops.

I’ve noticed it before in books I’ve read. Characters who haven’t slept in days and they still manage to function better than I do with my eight hours. When I don’t get enough sleep, I get crabby and cranky and grumpy…I’m pretty much miserable to be around. A couple of times, when I’ve had insomnia and I haven’t slept at all for a couple of days, I felt like the walking dead. Barely awake, barely able to function. Surprisingly, I was able to get through the day without killing myself or someone else but it was close.

I thought the less sleep I got, the worse I’d be able to function until, eventually, I’d be an eye-twitching, stuttering mess without the ability to tie my own shoes.

So, why how realistic is it for my character to run around in my story with only a couple of hours of rest and still be able to have a sharp mind and quick reflexes?

Skye Fairwin runs this amazing blog that mixes writing and psychology. I love it! Mostly because I’m nosy but also because I wondered just how realistic I was making Klias. As it turns out, most of us can still function with barely any sleep.

You still doubt? Well, here is the article. It’s truly neat because it has the real consequences of sleep-deprivation. Cool, huh?

Here is the site. Love it!

Now, I better head to my book and fix Klias’ reactions before his eye starts twitching…

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!