This week’s writing challenge at the Daily Post was to blog about a divisive issue, namely the whole Miley Cyrus thing at the VMAs. Normally, I wouldn’t bother with this issue, because I didn’t watch it and don’t care enough about Miley Cyrus to give her space in my head. That being said, when I went about with my day after I read the topic, things started popping into my head about character development for stories, and how that applies to people in the media.
First off, this isn’t a new issue. Elvis shook it and scandalized a nation, and millions were shocked when Madonna did “Like a Virgin.” Okay, pretty much all of Madonna’s early career was shocking. I’m sure they were called all sorts of names and blamed for the moral downfall of youth. I saw some of Miley’s performance, and I thought it was pretty disgusting, done for shock value and lacking in artistry. But it’s not new. It’s almost a rite of passage. When I was in my late teens/ early 20s, I did some dumb things because I was trying to grow up too fast and find myself. I was just lucky enough that none of it was caught on camera. Hopefully, she’ll grow up, leave this phase behind her. There are plenty of other young men and women waiting to be “scandalous.”
How does all this link to character development? Well, I remember reading a bit of advice a long time ago. It reminded authors that characters were not the people who wrote them, and to be dynamic, they should have their own thoughts, feelings, actions, that may be in direct opposition to the writer. Books would be pretty boring if they always acted as their author did. Hearing about Miley Cyrus got me to thinking about the complex motivations of other people, and reminded me that when I’m writing about young adults, they see the world much differently than people twice their age, and I’m sure differently than people twice that age! If ten people see one event, they will have ten different viewpoints and memories about the event.
Thanks for the reminder, Miley.