One Easy Way To Make Your Characters’ Political Opinions More Realistic

2016 Artwork Political opinions and characters article sketch

Well, although I often (not not always) try to avoid discussing anything related to politics on this blog, I was in the mood for talking about politics and creativity again.

So, I thought that I’d look at how to handle political opinions in fiction today. Or, more precisely, I’ll be talking about an easy way to give your characters more nuanced and realistic opinions.

It’s a very easy thing to write a “liberal” or a “conservative” character. If you have a basic understanding of modern politics (in whichever country you are living in), then you’ll know that “liberals have these opinions” and “conservatives have those opinions”. It’s a very simplistic and binary thing, and it makes for very simplistic characters when used in fiction

But, as we all know, the real world doesn’t work like that. There are very few people who are “100% conservative” or “100% liberal”. If there were, elections would be ridiculously predictable things and democracy itself would probably end up unravelling after a while.

As you probably already know, many people have a mixture of opinions. They may be mostly conservative, or mostly liberal or somewhere in between, but very few people are firmly on one side or another. But, how can you portray this realistically in fiction?

Simple. Make your characters’ opinions issue-based, rather than politics-based.

What do I mean by this? Well, instead of deciding whether your character is “liberal” or “conservative”, just decide what their opinions about various issues are. If you’re not sure about this, then look at your character’s history, personality etc.. and ask yourself “If I met someone like that, what opinions would I expect them to have about this particular subject?

Once you’ve decided this, then you’ll probably have a character who has a more nuanced set of political opinions and is far more interesting to read than a character who rigidly follows either conservative or liberal orthodoxy.

If your characters follow their opinions about one subject (regardless of their opinions about other subjects), then you’ll end up with dramatically interesting situations where, for example, a mostly conservative character may agree with a liberal character about one issue, but disagrees with them about a lot of other things.

So, if you want to give your characters more interesting political views, then look at their views about individual issues, rather than their views about politics as a whole.

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Sorry for the short article, but I hope that it was useful 🙂

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