Tuesday, January 28, 2014

Mixed Legacy

When a famous man died this month, the media referred to his “mixed legacy.”

Got me thinking. Which one of us, when truth is told, will not have a mixed legacy? Except for saints, who among us is all-virtuous? Or all-villainous?


Characters in fiction of yesteryear may carry these distinctions. I couldn’t write or even conjure such characters. I just never met one personally, and I need this personal connection as a hook to hang my characters’ jackets on. 

 Literary clichés aside, I’m already on record for abhorring black and white stances. It is challenging and frustrating at times, with advice to “up the stakes” and make one’s writing less aware of the gray tones mixture that is us.

My challenge, as I revise and work my way to the best stories I can, is to keep them interesting, illuminating, and allow all my characters their right to a mixed legacy.

14 comments:

  1. Mirka, I like the way you phrased it: to keep our characters illuminating. That is what I hope to do for mine, too.

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  2. Amen! The saints too struggled mightily with their faults ...

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  3. Vijaya, that is so true!

    Mirka, I'm working on revisions for my latest WIP and I'm also trying to make sure my characters have just the right blend of both good and evil.

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  4. I do have trouble sometimes 'upping the stakes'. And like Claudine, I like your 'keeping characters illuminating' advice! You could use that for a log line under your name. Mirka Muse: Illuminating Characters since... =)

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    1. Can I hire you as my PR person, Leandra? ;)

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  5. "mixed legacy" lol-- not sure if that's what I'd like on my obituary!

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  6. Yes, a very worthy challenge to have!

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  7. Characters that are all "good" or all "bad" definitely aren't as interesting (or illuminating) as those "gray" heroes or heroines who have faults just like ours. I love Leandra's idea for your log line! = )

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  8. Mixed legacy pretty much sums up...well, everyone. :). Now I'd like mine mixed with chocolate chips and caramel, maybe some almonds too. That Snidely Whiplash photo brings back many fond memories. Thanks.

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  9. That's a great challenge, Mirka! I'm sure your characters and stories will be better for it. :)

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  10. I think it's especially fascinating to give villains a mixed legacy. If we can feel for and understand the villain, that's powerful.

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  11. "Illuminating Characters since…" I like that ! A character with a mixed legacy is more relatable and thus will resonate with the reader more deeply. Great post, Mirka!

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  12. That's a fancy term to use for our characters' flaws! "a mixed legacy" You always make me think deeply, Mirka.

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