We’ve all heard the usual writing tip everybody seems to be suggesting: write strong characters. But what about writing characters who have strong opinions? Developing personas who are opinionated without appearing extremely arrogant can be a difficult task.
Your female protagonist is assertive and replies on whim when her tweet is mansplained but is she telling them to ‘fuck off’? Isn’t that supposed to be rude for this tad bit stronger Jane Doe? But she should be doing exactly that, right? Well, that’s for you to decide! Opinions are often judgements that are not backed up by facts, which basically means no opinion can be either absolutely wrong or right. Unless you’re supporting the worst people for their worst actions because then, it’s pathetic biases and not merely opinions. Anyway, today, I’ll be suggesting four ways to write characters with strong opinions.
Let them act on impulse.
More often than not, when one has a strong opinion, they can become so attached to that particular idea that everything else seems either absurd or offending. In order to keep supporting their part of argument, they make decisions on impulse and lead to actions that might affect both their opinions and themselves.
Plus, the more difficult a journey would be for your character, the more they grow up to the readers so why not let your babies create obstacles for themselves? Impulsive decisions will surely lead to unexpected outcomes and usually unwanted ones. So now onward, let your female protagonist slap a male character for opening a door for her…and then bawl for her hastiness because the guy was cute. Warning: expect exaggerated examples.
Let them think they’re right.
But here’s the catch: they aren’t. Strong opinions don’t necessarily mean they’re right. A person might be a Nazi and have a solid view regarding others but those views aren’t something they should be proud of. But have you come across a Nazi who knows they’re wrong? Make your character more believable by letting them live in a bubble of their own. Make them feel they’re the epitome of righteousness and let someone slap the shit out of them to show how wrong they can be.
Let them be alone.
In reality, nobody stands with you if they don’t agree with you. It’s as simple as that. No matter how right your character is at some point and how clearly they’re voicing out an opinion, it isn’t realistic if each and every secondary character agrees with them just because they’re the main characters. I love ice cream but I wouldn’t want a lactose intolerant friend of mine to eat along with me just because I have a strong opinion regarding a sweet, creamy thing.
Your main character might be signing up for a march to show their anger against a latest issue but it isn’t necessary for their best friend to accompany them. Maybe the best friend wants to stay at home and try raising the issue via social media. Let them not be supported in full costume by those around them.
Let them learn from others.
For me, a good character learns over the story and develops into a better person. Having a strong opinion doesn’t always resonate with being a good human. Strong opinions can often be associated with an adamant person thereby reflecting negativity. Don’t make your character go overboard and be blinded; don’t let them constrict their minds to an extent where they aren’t willing to change their opinions about anything. Make your characters flexible enough to respect other opinions as long as those ‘opinions’ are not perpetuating hate or wrongdoings, because that’s what majority people should be and what better place to bring about a change than in a fictional world?