Thursday, February 26, 2009

Sympathetically Insane

Today on Nathan Bransford's blog, he mentioned Sympathetic vs. Unsympathetic Characters.

Very apropos. I'm toying with an idea for a new book centered on an obsessed, sometimes violent, but otherwise amiable woman who makes deleterious decisions costing her all she holds dear, including her sanity. This is where the question of how to make your protagonists/antagonists resonate with others comes into play.

Is craziness so far off for any of us?

Is obsession the same as passion?

For myself, writing goes far beyond the simple, "I like to do it." IS that the same as saying I'm obsessed?

Let's look at the symptoms:
1 - I do it for hours every day. Even weekends and holidays.

2 - I talk about it as much as possible keeping in mind that not everyone can relate... or cares for that matter.

3 - My characters are real to me. “Writing is a socially acceptable form of schizophrenia.” EL Doctorow

4 - It's hard not to do it. When away from my computer, I keep a note pad with me so I can jot down mannerisms or funny observations.

Okay, it would appear that I am, in fact, obsessed. Therefore, I can relate to my character. But will others?

Comments and suggestions are certainly welcome. Also, does anyone have any good reading recommendations for stories told from the villain's perspective?


  1. What a fine line betwix the two! I would imagine a fairly blurry line as well. Perhaps within legal limits it is considered a passion.

    Funny, I've wondered the same thing.

    I like the term 'focused' in general circles of conversations. I would consider you a highly focused writer. Behind closed doors your passion bleeds into obsession. lol

  2. Face it, you're obsessed. Get help now!

  3. You answered your own question by describing your character's habit as having "cost" her something important. Cost often lies at the opposite side of the line from sacrifice. In other words, I would use "addiction" synonomously with "obsession". When it interferes with regular daily activities, responsibilities and relationships, it is a problem. Has your writing harmed (or costed) you or anyone else? Otherwise, having an interest/talent that provides continuing excitement and fulfillment is great - not many people are so lucky. :)

  4. Oh, Hilabeans. Don't you know that we're never gonna survive UNLESS we get a little crazy?(Sweet Jesus, did I just quote Seal?) You're simply dedicated. That's a good thing when it comes to writing. I mean, it's not like you're obsessed with something super weird or creepy like, say, openly quoting Seal.
    I think your psycho thriller will be awesome and I can't wait to read it!

  5. Personally, I love horrible protagonists, like the heroine from Bitter is the New Black, or Confessions of a Sociopathic Social Climber. Just know, you'll be writing a book people will love or hate. But quirky characters sell. If you want to write the next break-out novel, go for it! If you want Target to stock your book ... be wary:)