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Friday, 30 April 2010

Does Your Character Have A Political Agenda?

The political scrum of the last few weeks got me thinking.

I've become very passionate, especially in the last couple of days, about expressing my opinion and supporting a certain party leader against adversity. As I've become more vocal, however, I've realised that the majority of my characters are not aligned with politics at all. I don't mean in the sense that I want them actively campaigning for the Lib Dems during election month, just that sometimes it's easier to tick the 'not political' box in the character checklist than to go through the implications of what a political allegiance might mean to plot progression.

I'm particularly guilty of this. My note about one of my protagonists, Joe, ran 'doesn't vote'. Well, that's that then.

Not quite.

I've realised Joe doesn't vote because I'm lazy, not him. I had so much going on with my characters that I didn't want to factor politics into it, whether it impacted on the story or not. Easier for me to keep track that way. Thinking about it for a few seconds, putting together everything I know about him, I decided he'd vote Labour. He's a simple man who likes what he knows, he cohabits with his girlfriend and has an aversion to upper-class twits.

That wasn't so hard, was it? Now I'm not intending to wave round a political baton in the novel but it adds an extra layer of realism to Joe. A character may legitimately not vote but you have to know why.

Is it down to them or you?

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