Megan Mitcham

Outside Your Bubble

An author will spend years of his or her life researching various topics for manuscripts. From medieval castles and corsets to bomb construction and serial killer profiles, we leave few pebbles (topics) unturned in the pursuit of authenticity. We’ll climb mountains, shoot guns, spend hours in the library reading resource material, or scour the internet for information.

And in all honesty, researching historical events, locations, illnesses and battle tactics are easy. Authenticity gets hard when you grow and diversify your characters.

Think about it. Goth. Jock. Thug. Geek. Stoner. Prep. Nerd. Goodie-two-shoes. Hippie. Christian. Atheist. Gay. Straight. Hermit. Addict. Deaf. Paraplegic. New age. Raver. The list of subcultures goes on and on. You may be able to check a few off as “belonging” to said group. You will never be able to check them all because some of the dynamics drastically appose one another.

Authors can write in their subcultural safe zone for the entirety of their career. However, if authenticity is the goal you must host a wide range of characters because life is full of them.

So, how do you write a Catholic’s point of view when you grew up a non-believer? How do you write an addict’s need when you’ve never felt the debilitating pull?

If you can, bust your bubble. Step outside your comfort zone and open yourself up to the different. You don’t have to agree with your character’s lifestyle, but you must use empathy to try and understand the why’s of it. Documentaries, interviews and observation are great source materials for the why’s. 

I certainly don’t agree with a serial killer’s lifestyle. Yet, I try to understand how their minds function in order to write authentically.

Good luck busting your bubbles and finding authenticity!

Megan Mitcham, Writer

12 thoughts on “Outside Your Bubble

  1. I think before I became published I used to be a little more brave with the characters I wrote about. I remember one character was an extremely unlikable dirt bag with an unhealthy porn addiction. He was also stuck in the 70s. I love books where the author isn’t afraid to push the envelope. It doesn’t always work, but when it does it’s something that sticks with you. Great post! 🙂

    1. Thanks, Jules!! There is a sense of safety before publishing where only the people you want will read your baby. After…let the free reining judgement begin. Yep, a little scary. And very exhilarating, when you get it right. Cheers to getting it right!

  2. The best writers are the one who can get into the mind of their sleezebag, serial killer and made me see the world through his/her eyes. That can be hard. But I also agree that sometimes the best way to know how to realistically describe something is to do it…skydiving anyone? hee hee

    1. My feet are firmly planted on the ground. Hard enough to get me into a plane I’m not expected to jump from. 🙂 But you have fun. In the same token, I’ll be interested to read your upcoming steamy fireman story and spend hours wondering what “research” you did for it. 😉

  3. I finished reading Gone Girl and thought it was such an interesting study of a psychopath. I don’t want to give any spoilers here, but the best books put me inside the character’s head.

    1. I’ve had someone else recommend that book. I’ll have to look it up. I suppose as authors we have to let go of ourselves, our insecurities or concerns about being judged, and write the character as they’re meant to be, flaws and all. Thanks for stopping by, BB! I hope you have a lovely week.

  4. I love getting into the mind of a character. Only the most skilled authors can make you feel empathy for someone who may appear undeserving. By the same token, there’s nothing I love more than the redemption of a character I find reprehensible when I first meet them. There can be satisfaction in both the disgust and the delight.

    1. Ditto for the redemption of scumbags!! The best ones, it seems, are not fully redeemed. They’re still off-kilter, but we walk away with a clearer understanding of their flaws. Hugs to you, ME! See you Saturday. 🙂

Comments are closed.