WARNING: This is a no-edit zone…
Between a contentious election, the economic crisis and all of the additional challenges triggered by both, emotions are running high.
Philadephia wins the World Series, and fans and supporters react by rocking cars, doing damage to a news van and setting fires in the street. This is not normal “we’re happy about this” behavior.
This morning, a San Francisco WGO radio talk show host called for the death of Joe the Plumber. A citizen whose only crime was to ask a question that some don’t like the way their candidate responded. This is not normal “we’re upset with our candidate’s answer” or “we wish you would never have asked” behavior.
A young woman “gets in the face” of a seventy-year-old woman because she didn’t like her political button. This behavior was urged by the candidate. “Get in their faces and….” This is not appropriate conduct, or being respectful for anyone’s freedom of choice. It was wrong for the confrontational woman. It was wrong for the candidate.
This morning, we’re waking up to news that one of the candidates’ plans, if implemented, will bankrupt the coal industry and for everyone energy costs will skyrocket. (The candidate’s words, not mine.) That’s got a lot of people erupting in an emotion explosion.
Everywhere we look, people are acting as if they’ve lost it, saying and doing things they would normally never do. It’s a time of hyper-stress. Hyper-emotion.
Characters endure times of hyper-stress and emotion, too. But I would be judicious in having a protagonist act in the unacceptable conduct ways that the individuals referenced above behaved. Why?
Because the people reading the story are not going to be hyper-stressed/emotional when they read. And in their cooler heads, they’re going to think the conduct is unacceptable and totally unheroic. Truthfully, they’ll likely think much worse.
And it’s all but impossible to make a reader care about a character whose conduct the reader shuns. There is no bond, there is no empathy and there is no desire to emulate that character.
That’s very likely to translate to no sale, which spares readers the opportunity to read the book that doesn’t exist.
The characters have an advantage. We’re left to deal with the inappropriate and disrespectful conduct of the real people. Here’s hoping their own cooler heads kick in soon and calm and reason prevail….