I was watching a movie the other night. (End Of Watch for anyone interested) and in it, there’s a Drive-by shooting where, when it’s over, the one shooter is hyping the other one up saying how proud he was, how tough they were, and “no Fear” and all that sort of macho bullshit, and while this scene played out all I could think was “Do bangers really think doing a drive-by is tough? Do they really think it makes them seem tough, or cool or anything remotely bad-ass?” Because in my eyes, a drive-by is way too cowardly to be bad-ass. I mean, you hide in a moving vehicle, and shoot an unsuspecting target before speeding away. Running away isn’t fast enough, so you’re in a car.

Am I wrong?

Anyway, this whole contradiction in beliefs and actions made me think about good contradictions versus bad ones in storytelling. It’s often said that it’s not good to have your character act uncharacteristically. I know I’ve said it, too. Yet, I find sometimes that a character doing something that is unnatural to them not only creates a cool twist in the story, it makes the character more realistic. Real people often act uncharacteristically, so is it really that bad when fictional characters do?

What do you think? Please share your thoughts in the comments.

2 comments for “Contradictions

  1. February 21, 2013 at 4:53 pm

    I think some great moments in fiction come from a force that motivates a character to do something they otherwise would never do. Or puts them in a position of having to face a moral struggle.

  2. February 25, 2013 at 11:10 am

    Sasha, you make a very good point about drive-by shootings being cowardly. I completely agree.

    I think the most interesting and dynamic moments in a book often come when the character acts out of character. It’s those moments when we readers sit up and take notice and say things like, “Wow, he’s really furious,” or “He must really love her.” Those acting out of character moments, if done well, are how we know those characters are growing and how a writer can highlight pivotal points in their lives.

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