Sometimes you have characters who beg you to tell their story, and other times, getting a character to talk is like pulling teeth. Most of the time, I have trouble writing these character types:
1. Parents – In most of my stories, my characters are in their teens and twenties, so parents should still have influence on their lives. The influence of parents makes for a more believable story. Anthony directed me to this post about parent characters, and how they often end up killed off because the writer didn’t want to include them in the story. (I guess that explains the large number of orphans in YA novels.) I don’t kill off parent characters… but I don’t involve them in the story as much as I ought to. And when they do come into the story, they usually act in cliched or unrealistic ways. It’s difficult for me to relate to parents (and therefore write in the POV of a parent) because I have never been one.
2. Animals – I admire authors who can write in the perspective of an animal and create a convincing story. Richard Adams did it in Watership Down, and Robert O’Brien did it in Mrs. Frisby and the Rats of NIMH. I don’t think I could ever write a book about talking animals (unless it was a children’s book, which brings me to my next point) without it being incredibly cheesy.
3. Children – Yes, I was a child before, but that doesn’t mean writing from a child’s perspective is easy. It’s one thing to write a children’s book in the perspective of a child, and quite another to write an adult book in the perspective of a child. I don’t think a child’s life is any simpler than an adult’s… and that might be the mistake a lot of writers make. They might simplify and make light of children’s problems. (How many times do we look back on our lives and think, “If only I knew then what I knew now”?)
Writing from the perspective of any character takes insight. You have to put yourself in that person’s shoes, and sometimes that can be a lot harder if we can’t easily relate to that particular stage of life, culture, etc. In cases like these, it does seem much better to “write what you know,” rather than create a skewed perspective.
What types of characters are hardest for you to write?