Tag Archives: beliefs

Authors Answer 3 in Video Form!

Earlier today, I edited together my answer to Authors Answer 3. And my answer has changed from the original! The question was: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you? Take a look.

What do you think about my answer? Do you agree? How do you feel about writing characters of different beliefs than you?

Authors Answer 3 – Character Beliefs

I have to let you know that this is the 666th post on this blog.  And what a wonderful coincidence that there is something that matches this week’s question very well.  Common in fantasy fiction, we often have an all powerful antagonist, and sometimes they are demons.


Question 3: How difficult do you find it to write characters who have vastly different beliefs than you?

Amy Morris-Jones

Okay, so in full disclosure, I’m not sure I’ve really written a character yet who has a vastly different belief system than I do. I’ve written characters with different genders, ages, educations, and socioeconomic classes, but those characters still bear my own Midwest sensibilities.

The closest I can come to answering this question is with regard to a short story project that I’m currently researching. Several years ago, an event happened in my small town in which people’s values were challenged by a family who “saw things differently” (how’s that for vague?!). My goal is to fictionalize the events, but I still want to explore  how these issues of difference, “us” versus “them,” permeate everything we do.

The challenge I face in writing this piece is more of an external one than an internal one. I believe I can write this story with an open mind, but I am very much a product of that same small town where the events occurred and I feel a sense of obligation to that community to be respectful of their position, too.

Wish me luck!

Caren Rich

Depends.  I haven’t written any characters with different religious beliefs.  Or rather I haven’t dug deep into those beliefs yet.  I have written characters with different morals and values before.  Quite a bit actually.  It’s not too difficult.  I’m not writing myself, I’m writing about a character I created.  I have stopped mid sentence and wondered if people will think I’m writing about myself, I think that’s a risk most writers take.

What I try to do is make sure the character stays true.  I have a character who’s controlling and a bully.  I have another one who’s an adulterer and one that’s a drug addict.  I am none of those things and would rather die than be a party to it.  But I really enjoy writing those characters.

I will admit that writing allows me to investigate different lifestyles.  Similar to role playing or acting.  The characters are real, in my head.  They are closer to friends or family and I want them to be true to who they are.  Writing allows them to do that.  In a way, it’s a little freeing for me, I can live darker fantasies through my characters.  I can write about a controlling psychopath without getting my hands dirty.

I don’t write about different religious beliefs.  I purposely hang back from that.  There are other things I refuse to write about because I don’t want my name attached to it and because I wouldn’t want to read it.  Basically, I write what I want to write.

D. T. Nova

Now this is a good question. And one that any author writing a story where a character’s beliefs change should make sure they take into consideration.

Strictly sticking to the word “belief” as I would use it, what a character considers to be true or false (and let’s also include what they think about the nature of truth itself and how important it is, because there are things someone couldn’t believe without disagreeing with me on that), my answer is “not difficult at all”.

Religion is not an exception. I don’t have any difficulty writing characters who believe things I don’t about gods, miracles, or prophets, precisely because I don’t make any important character a stereotype of their religion. I know that stereotypes are a kind of laziness themselves, but making a main character a stereotype would require getting into the head of a very specific mindset, while recognizing that every person is an individual means less time spent on avoiding a type of “inaccuracy” that isn’t actually any kind of problem.

But some people use “belief” to mean all the practices and rules associated with a religion, as in “telling me to not discriminate against gay people is disrespectful to my beliefs”. And based on my experience, I do tend to mostly associate this usage with people like that example; people who are looking for an excuse to claim that their own intolerance is itself something that people are unfairly intolerant of. Anyway, I don’t like using the word “belief” to mean this, but what little I’ve written that involved religious practices or restrictions wasn’t particularly hard either.

As for things like actually hating gay people, antagonists like that probably are the hardest kind of character I’ve tried to write.

Elizabeth Rhodes

In the past, I had trouble with this.  I was just starting out as a writer in high school, and began fleshing out characters and ideas with a friend through role-plays that turned into multiple novellas.  After a while she pointed out that I had a tendency to be too “uptight” with my characters – I didn’t want them to do anything wrong, or at least anything that I didn’t personally agree with.  Meanwhile, she wrote about demons who quite literally tore my characters to shreds.  It was a big wake up call for me.  Now, with my tendency to write with religious themes and shades-of-gray morality, it would be hard for me not to make my characters do or think things I didn’t agree with.

H. Anthe Davis

So far, I don’t feel like I’ve had much difficulty in writing characters who don’t share my beliefs.  In fact, I’m pretty sure none of my characters share my beliefs!  For me, it comes down to understanding how a character got those beliefs and why they hold on to them, and then letting them clash naturally with those who think differently.  Most everyone wants to be doing the good-and-right thing; even selfish people are selfish for a reason, whether it be out of self-defense or a feeling that others are deficient and undeserving.  So it’s just a matter of figuring out what ‘good-and-right’ means to each character.

Jean Davis

I enjoy exploring other ways of thinking through characters. It’s interesting to think outside yourself, discover how a character might respond very differently than myself based on the beliefs I’ve outlined for them.

Coming up with that belief system and understanding how a character would act based upon it does take more thought and time than one based on a system similar to what I am familiar with. As long as the story calls for it, that time is worth the effort to attempt to create a thought-provoking character.

Linda G. Hill

I absolutely love writing characters with opposing beliefs to mine. It allows me to delve into different ways of thinking that I wouldn’t otherwise even contemplate. Psychology intrigues me like nothing else. Discovering and uncovering what makes people tick is a constant occupation of mine – beliefs are part of what make people do the things they do.

Paul B. Spence

I usually don’t find it difficult at all.  As an anthropologist, I’m trained in cultural relativism, which is another way of saying “It’s all good.”  The only time I have difficulty is in the occasional scene from the point of view of the antagonists because I do believe that there is such a thing as evil.  You don’t have to be religious to know right from wrong, and characters who do bad things for the wrong reasons are difficult to write.

S. R. Carrillo

Pretty difficult in the beginning, but as I begin to flesh out their design and their background, etc., they come to life on their own. When I work to have a character think things differently than I do, it’s a work in progress that I draw on outside sources for – how someone I know reacted and what they believed comes into play a lot.

Tracey Lynn Tobin

Extremely. I find it extremely difficult.

When I was a kid I used to write stories about my friends and I going on grand adventures and the like. I was always the main character, so of course the story always reflected myself, my dreams, my beliefs. As I got older I began to realize that I was turning myself into a “Mary Sue” character and that maybe, just maybe, I should try making up some characters instead. My writing got better instantaneously, but there was still always that problem of separating myself from the character. I regularly (by accident, of course) infuse my characters with my own opinions, have them follow a thought process that is very clearly mine, and design them to hold similar beliefs and values to myself. Often, the editing process for me involves a total overhaul of my main character to make sure that they are themselves instead of me with a different face.

The hardest part for me is religious belief. I don’t know if I’ll ever be able to write a religious character as my main character because I’m atheist. I grew up in a Catholic family and I know enough about religion to be capable of writing someone with religious beliefs, but I think I would wind up disliking the character so much that I wouldn’t be able to continue.

(As an aside, it’s not that I dislike religious people; I’m actually very tolerant of other people’s beliefs. But I think you have to have a connection with your main character, and I would have a hard time connecting with a character who thought the exact opposite of what I think.)

Jay Dee Archer

It’s pretty easy to write characters that have the same beliefs as me, but then they’d all sound like clones of me.  But I find it interesting to write characters that are vastly different than I am.  But it’s not the easiest thing to do.  I think the biggest problem is making that character’s behaviour and beliefs exaggerated or stereotyped.  That’s the kind of thing that needs to be avoided.

I’m not religious, but I find religions fascinating.  Politically, I’m quite liberal, but I find it interesting to write a conservative character.  It seems that with fantasy, it’s easier to write characters that have different beliefs than I do, because they live in societies that are vastly different.  I can make everything up.  However, if it takes place around our time on Earth, it’s more difficult.  They have to be believable.

How about you?

What do you think about writing characters with different beliefs than you?  Do you find it difficult or easy?  And who do you agree with the most?  Leave your answer in the comments below.

What I Believe In

As you saw in my last post, I am against creationism in the science classroom and against abstinence only sex education.  But what about other causes or controversial topics?  Well, here’s a list of causes with my brief answer.

  • Creationism taught as an alternative to evolution:  No.  Creationism isn’t science.  Evolution is.
  • Abstinence only sex education:  No.  Irresponsible, and doesn’t take into account that teenagers are horny and hormone-filled. Contraceptives must be taught, too.
  • Climate change is happening:  Yes.  So much evidence supports it.  Denying climate change doesn’t stop it from happening.
  • Destroying vast amounts of land for natural resources: No.  Stop it.  Things like oil are going to run out, so it’s better to search for renewable energy sources.
  • Nuclear power: This one is tricky.  It’s efficient, it produces a lot of energy, and it is relatively safe (coal produces more radiation, oil and gas produce far more pollution).  But when problems happen, that’s when we have a big problem.  Now, nuclear fusion would be nice.
  • Research into nuclear fusion: Big yes.  This would solve so many energy problems.  The fuel source is incredibly abundant (hydrogen), and the byproducts of fusion are benign (helium).  If it could work successfully, it would be wonderful.
  • Research for a cure for ALS and other unprofitable cures: Yes.  This has to do with responsibility to fellow humans, and not about exploiting them for profits.  I don’t care if a disease is relatively rare, work should be done to search for treatments and cures.
  • Gay rights:  Gay people should be allowed to marry, absolutely.  They should not be discriminated against.
  • Racial equality:  Yes, absolutely.  I don’t care where you’re from, I think I can get along with people from any background.  Well, I do care where people are from, mainly because I’m interested in cultures and countries.
  • Gender equality: Yes, definitely.  They should receive equal pay, they should have equal rights.  Everywhere.  That means you too, Middle East.
  • Public breastfeeding:  Yes.  Babies need to eat.
  • Profit vs environment:  Profit loses.  Environment should be protected, even if it deprives us of some natural resources.
  • Poaching of endangered species: Kill the poachers.  Honestly.  They’re scum.  They may be human, but they are not worth it.
  • Free medical care: Yes.  No one should have to pay for it.
  • Free university:  Yes.  Some countries made it work.  We need educated people, not heavily indebted people.
  • Genetically modified food: We’ve been modifying food for millennia, actually.  We’ve just become better at it.  However, there’s a problem with genetically modified crops mixing with natural vegetation.  They need to be kept separate.  Whether they’re bad for people or not, the jury is still out on this.  I’m cautious about this.  I’m sitting on the fence.
  • International conflict:  Grow up! Politicians, leaders, terrorists, you’re all bickering children.  Bickering children with big weapons.  You’re the dangers.  Learn to get along, go back to school.  We need more responsible leaders, not petty idiotic leaders who are in it for themselves.
  • Religious freedom: I’ll believe what I want, you can believe what you want.  Don’t try to change my mind.  I will shut you up.  I won’t push what I believe on you, so respect that, please.
  • Space exploration: Fully support it.  We’re screwing up this planet, so let’s find other places to go if we need to.  Colonise Mars.  But don’t screw that world up in case there is life there.
  • Medical marijuana: Yes, go for it.  But to smoke it in public, no thank you.  The smell is awful and makes me feel sick.  Keep it away from me.  And this leads to…
  • Smoking in public: I wish this would be banned from public places completely.  I don’t need your vile habit going into my or my child’s lungs.  Keep it in your home, as long as you have no children.  Keep it away from children.  Make it illegal to smoke around children, I say.
  • Antibacterial soap: Ban the stuff.  Now.  It’s creating stronger bacteria and is a hazard to our health.  Some places already have banned it.
  • Protect our little snowflakes: Kids are protected from too much these days.  They can’t run around outside with their friends because they may fall down and scratch their precious little knee, then the parents will sue the school, the city, the friends, anyone.  It’s this idiocy that’s causing children to become unhealthy blobs of fat who can’t exercise any kind of independence because their parents won’t let them.  Parents, you’re raising people, not fine china or collectibles that must be kept in mint condition.
  • The customer is always right:  No way.  Bad customers deserve to be denied service and thrown out.
  • Children should be protected from anything related to sex: No. They’ll learn about it from friends, from TV, from the Internet.  I say talk to your kids about it, honestly.
  • Teaching of history: Please be honest, and don’t give us biased drivel.  I don’t like the kind of history education that portrays your home country as the best in the world, while all the others are wrong.  This is propaganda.  Be honest, please.  Maybe that way, countries will get along.
  • Vaccinations: Absolutely.  The whole anti-vaccination movement is dangerous and damaging.  Diseases are coming back because of this lapse in judgment.  Autism isn’t caused by vaccines, either.  No research has shown that it does.  Autism is genetic.

I think that’s enough for now.  Any that I missed?  Ask me about my opinions, and I’ll answer in the comments.  What do you think?