Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Writing: Character Conflict vs Confidence

The nice thing about getting critiques of your writings is you get different points of view. The bad thing is a lot of times these points of view are completely opposite. There is no bigger argument among writers than with the main character's conflict and introspection vs. confidence.

Both sides have plenty of works to look back on. Beowulf was a pretty confident character, I guess most Dragon Slayers are. On the flipside Hamlet was all inner conflict and introspection, thinking everything through until he had no choice.

I personally had a hard time making it through Beowulf, I found his confidence going into battle too much and thought it took away from the battles. On the other hand I liked Hamlet, but was always thinking, “Do something, Take arms against a sea of troubles.”

I don't know if it's a gender thing, but I've had guys tell me that my Male main character is an arrogant prick, and women tell me the same character isn't confident enough.

It's impossible to please both sides of this issue. Unless it's a comedy I doubt Beowulf vs. Hamlet would be a huge success. But there is a way to make it less annoying to both sides. With the less is more approach.

A great line in Confidence vs. Inner Conflict is, oddly enough, in “Parents just don't understand”:

My parents went away on a week's vacation and

They left the keys to the brand new Porsche

Would they mind?

Umm, well, of course not

I'll just take it for a little spin

And maybe show it off to a couple of friends

I'll just cruise it around the neighborhood

Well, maybe I shouldn't

Yeah, of course I should

Will Smith shows both self-doubt and extreme confidence in a few lines.

Another great example of Confidence vs Conflict is the canceled TV series Firefly.

Mal: It will work.

Zoe: What if they come after us?

Mal: They won't.

Zoe: Why not?

Mal: Um...'cause.

The greatest way to show the character's inner conflict and confidence is to show it briefly and simultaneously.

Of course, what got me thinking about this is the fact that get comments on the same parts that I don't show the characters conflict and confidence enough. So it is a balancing act.

Just wondering, in reading do you like the main character to be more like Beowulf or Hamlet?

By Darrell B. Nelson author of I KILLED THE MAN THAT WASN'T THERE

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