Reviews, Views and Adventures in Content Creation

Monday, January 6, 2014

Writing Psychotic (Blogging Every Day #6)

[6]  The premise of my novel, "My Life at the Bottom of the Food Chain" (find out more here) centers on thirteen year old Alexander, a boy whose skewed perspective on the world around him leaves him in abject fear of non-existent bullies and the terrible deeds they might be plotting against him. His paranoia leads him to make decisions that not only aren't in his best interest, but nearly transform him into just the kind of kid he fears the most. Half the fun of the novel (and, hopefully, the follow-up I'm working on now) is discovering Alexander's outsized reactions to otherwise mundane situations.

I believe that most people - artists of all types, especially - consider themselves quirky, odd or unusual in one way or another. As readers, we identify best with the true outliers - those characters who stand apart from the norm in one way or another. We sympathize with them, cheer for them, and enjoy their victories. The best hero, in this reader's opinion, is a flawed hero.

As a writer, I'm most fascinated by critiques of my work that analyze my main protagonist in psychological terms. Kirkus Reviews, for example, stated that I risk "making Alexander unsympathetic by pushing his behavior from that of a risible obsessive to that of an outright psychotic." I love that comment, and I don't mind the "risk" if it helps achieve a measure of authenticity.

After all, what thirteen year-old hasn't felt just like that at one time or another?

We're all unstable, unpredictable creatures. Our fictional equivalents should be, too.

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