Write What you Hate (via @bcmystery)

Bill Cameron talks on characterisation at the Portlandbook Review.

Wherever you fall on the plot-driven vs. character-driven spectrum, no story is well served by poorly drawn characters. One reader suggested my problem was one of knowledge — you don’t know anything about police work. But that wasn’t it. Ignorance can be remedied and in any case, it wasn’t police work I didn’t understand. It was the police themselves, the men and women who do the work. Not only did I not know them, I didn’t want to know them. And therein lay the solution to my character problem.

Bill explains how his own distrust of authority prevented him from creating fully fleshed police characters, and :

Write what you know may be the first advice aspiring writers hear, and not without merit. Of late, write what you don’t know has gained cachet. The great thing about writing what you don’t know is you get to do research, one of the writer’s favorite ways to avoid actual writing. True enough, I knew next to nothing about police procedure. But even research wasn’t enough. If I was going to write compelling, multi-dimensional cops, I would have to deconstruct my visceral distrust of authority, to dig into not only what police officers do but who they are.

The article details a solid approach to character development, and if you are interested in making strong, compelling characters (hint: YOU ARE INTERESTED), it's worth a read. Bill is right in that you need to understand the characters you hate as much as the characters you love. Otherwise, you're at risk of creating a caricature, a straw man that's easy to hate but ultimately boring.

At its foundation, character development is not about likeability, or relateability [sic], or about sympathy, or pity. It’s about empathy. It’s not enough to write what you know, or what you don’t know. You must write what you hate, and to write it as if your own beliefs and values are on the line.

Read the rest here: http://www.portlandbookreview.com/writers-on-writing/9-1-11-write-what-you-hate/