follow a rookie writing his first novel

Character worldviews

I was teaching my students this week about worldviews; that is, the perceptual filter we all adopt to make sense of the world around us.

The fact is, we do not experience reality in the raw – we experience a filtered version of reality, the filter consisting of our values, beliefs and experiences (our worldview). And everyone’s worldview is different, hence everyone’s reality is different.

What has this got to do with writing? Well, if the characters are to be believable, then their worldviews will have to be different. They cannot all interpret events in the same way.

The problem is firstly it is damned hard to think of reality through a worldview that is not our own – sure, I can tinker around the edges value here and a belief there, but a wholly different worldview? Hmm.

Secondly, how much of a characters worldview would I have to map out in order to make a believable character, and do I need to do this up front for consistencies sake?

Has anyone  out there thought much about this? Do tell…



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3 thoughts on “Character worldviews

  1. I thought about a lot with my last project, Stevie One.

    Most of my main characters have been pretty cosmopolitan; they’re different, but they’re generally sophisticated. But with Stevie One, the protagonist is a small-town girl, and I had to keep that in mind throughout. On one hand I didn’t want her to be a cliche, but she was raised with some pretty clearly-defined assumptions about things. On the other hand, she has run away from home and may not be going back, and she’s making some other fairly radical changes in her life, so even for her town she may have been a bit of a misfit.

    For an example, a one point she’s in a house with two women who live together, and as they talk she’s trying to figure out how the women are related, why they’re living together. She finally figures out that they’re lovers, and she’s not shocked or uncomfortable about this, but she had no idea at first because they didn’t fit her stereotypical idea about what lesbians are supposed to look like.

    And, at the end of the story, she ends up doing pretty much what she was raised to do, but in a very different way. (The story is here, by the way: http://utownwriting.com/stevie1/)

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