Changing People
One of the biggest challenges is to convince somebody they have a problem and support their transformation into a better person. Why is this so difficult? People like the way they are and hate confronting their faults. Plus, it takes deep personal effort to stop one mindset and adopt another.
Some big issues include drug addiction, poor health, bad attitude, or obesity. I have been trying to convince somebody close to me they are depressed and have an empathy issue. This ten-year battle has had many painful confrontations, false promises, and no success.
Yet… I can fix that quickly. “Sam was depressed, which concerned Lisa. The next day, she convinced him to turn his life around.” Wow, that was easy.
Writers can change their characters in a few words with no consequences. Want to convince your best friend to lose weight? “Matt lost 100 pounds.” Done!
Now, wait a minute. Immediate changes only occur in fiction. A biography or other truthful work would never gloss over the painful process of transforming a person. Nope. Authors jam excitement into every sentence, and a drawn-out change reads poorly. Hit me hard and fast. Wrap this change mess up in a single paragraph and then get to the good stuff.
Is this fast change process realistic? Not at all. Then why do intelligent readers get taken in so quickly? When somebody opens a book, some magic happens. The reader knows the story is a story and allows themselves to become engulfed by the action.
Of course, readers complain about awful or unrealistic plots but are always up for a new book. We never tire of book magic and will always accept characters that do not match real life. Plus, it is fun to dream. Perhaps I could lose 100 pounds just like Matt? (Side note. I would settle for 25.)
Should readers be more critical? I would argue the opposite. Readers should be more open to new possibilities. Have you ever read a space opera, Zane Grey cowboy novel, vampire book, Danielle Steel romance, or even one of my books? Reading something outside our comfort zone can be rewarding.
Should authors do a better job of making realistic characters? No, characters must be larger, bolder, stronger, and brighter. The act of changing a character is tedious, and readers crave excitement. Harry Potter can have a magic wand, which is physically impossible, like when an autobiography glosses over inappropriate activities and focuses on accomplishments.
I find it fascinating that books have vast limitations and immense possibilities. Knowing that a writer can immediately transform a villain into a better person is comforting. How about the hero who overcomes their limitations? I wish it were me.

You’re the best -Bill
September 13, 2023
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