As we grow up, the adults around us teach us the things we must do if we want to be socially acceptable. Don’t swear in public, be polite, consider other people’s feelings, honesty is the best policy, I could go on. All of these tips are things we need to do to be socially accepted. But no matter how important these rules are, they should all go out the window when you sit down at your computer and start telling your story.
You can’t write a believable story when you’re coloring in the lines. Real people, the people you’re writing about, don’t always behave in a way that can be called socially acceptable. People swear in public, they drink too much, are impolite, lie. Some people are racists, some are offended by obesity. Let’s face it. Some people are jerks, and if you’re book takes place in the real world, some of your characters are going to be jerks, too.
When I first started writing, I created characters that were just like me. I didn’t cuss, so my characters didn’t either. I’m a Christian, so my characters had to be Christian, too. My characters were created with a set of morals that mirrored my own.
That was comforting to me but it didn’t take long for me to find out that it’s not a realistic way to write. As writers we are telling stories that aren’t our own. These stories belong to the characters we create. If we want our characters to live and breathe on the page, we have to be fearless when we create them. We have to dare to be inappropriate. We have to dare to be offensive. And sometimes, we have to dare to be kind, and sweet, and honorable.
Stories should be filled with characters that are as diverse as the people who populate the world we live in.