It’s Okay To Write Strange Characters
I’m currently watching the Doomsday Preppers series for the second time. There’s a whole lot that I could say about it, but the one thing that stands out is how completely blind we are to our own biases and oddities.
For example, this guy fears the government is going to take over. That’s fine, whatever. But he lives in Alaska and expects 30,000 U.S. troops to take over his little town. That’s more troops than the population of anywhere around. (Yes, I get it, we have a border with Russia there. I still think 30,000 soldiers is a high estimation.)
Okay, it’s a little paranoid, but that kind of thing has happened.
So he built a shelter 4 hours into the wilderness, and he can only get there by boat. A boat that he made to jump fallen trees and rocks. It can run in 2 inches of water. Super-impressive, right? Meanwhile, his prepping partner has to travel 800 miles off-road and by boat from Juno.
Let’s say there’s zero chance of running into an issue with his HOA in the new neighborhood.
But yet he’s still worried marauders are going to show up at his hidden shelter and bother him.
Another guy takes on the end of the world from a different perspective. There’s no bunker, no stockpiling weapons; he’s just going to jump in a kayak and try to escape a tsunami by fleeing to the mountains. It’s a good plan, except the whole kayak vs. tsunami bit.
For me, there’s a bigger problem with his plan. He’s waiting on a dream to tell him that the tsunami is coming.
He’s also going to “ask intuition and the universe if plants and berries are safe to eat.”
Experts called him out, and he was super-adamant that you don’t have to know anything about edible plants. He also felt that asking intuition also works in cases of questionable drinking water.
Those two things are actual “betting your life” situations.
I’ll admit, I’m hard on the characters I read or watch in movies. I’m quick to say “that’s completely irrational, nobody would ever do that!” But we’re all strange, and we can’t manage to notice.
We pretend that every conversation, every scenario, can be overcome by logical discussion. But people have deep-seated biases, and they’re occasionally irrational in support of those biases.
So when you’re writing a character, it’s okay to make them quirky, or even semi-paranoid. Real people often are.