I have been avoiding one of my characters. He’s a bigot and a racist. He’s the kind of person I choose not to have in my life. I don’t like this character, but he plays a crucial role in my novel so I have to get to know him better.
I was raised by my father to be color-blind so delving into the world of racism makes me exceptionally uncomfortable. It isn’t that I deny it is there. I just don’t want it to be. Of course, I recognize that avoiding or ignoring it does not make it go away. Quite the opposite.
This morning to avoid writing this difficult character, I read some of my subscriptions to writing blogs. They often offer me inspiration when I am stuck. I couldn’t have asked for anything more timely than Chris Hamilton’s post “On writing a bigotted character.”
“All in the Family” was a favorite in our household despite Archie Bunker being the complete opposite of my dad. Thanks to Chris for reminding me of him and for offering a moving clip from the show to remind me that my character must have motivation and experience that back up his belief system. Here’s the clip. (I’m having a hard time embedding the video so please follow the link if that’s all that shows.)
Writers: Have you had a hard time writing a character you didn’t like? And how did you get past that to build a three-dimensional believable person that readers could still care about despite his ways?
Readers: What characters have you read that you didn’t agree with but were able to find compassion for?
And finally, for us all: Why is discussing race and racism openly and honestly so difficult for many of us?