Well, yesterday was an adventure. I had been working off of five hours of sleep at work, standing, attending customers who – half of them – wanted to be there as much as I did. Usually, I don’t care about work, it’s good, I like it, and I have some good friends there. But yesterday, I was tired, feeling sick, and wanted to just pass out on the floor right there.
It didn’t help that I had a woman come in to do a return and not want a certain amount back, but instead just one coin instead of multiple. She handed me a penny to fix it, and I was so tired I couldn’t even think of how it all worked out. Deep down, in the logic of my brain, I knew what was going on, but on the surface I was about as productive as a duck in the middle of the desert.
She got mad at me, asking if I ‘Really didn’t know how to do this’. I have to say, I wish people would look at someone and notice, ‘hey, they don’t feel good’. I took the penny and finished up the transaction as smoothly as if I were awake and sent her kindly on her way.
That, and then near the end of my work day, I had a fraud check come through. Didn’t know it at the time, but he came back in after a complaint that the very expensive item he bought didn’t have a vital part – although what he had gotten was a kit, and should have included it. He brought up the ‘missing’ part, which was less, but just as expensive, and tried to write another check. We refused him, asking for another form of payment.. He turned us down and we said we’d return the other item, and that was another no as slipped back to his car.
With how stressful the day was, more or less because of my poor sleep, it got me thinking. I was too tired to write this last night, so I’m writing now while it’s still partially fresh in my mind.
Criminals are all out there, and though we don’t exactly know what goes on in their minds, we can know that it all comes down to basic instincts. Now, I’ve been reading this amazing book, called ‘Confessions of a Sociopath: A life spent hiding in plain sight’, written by M. E. Thomas. Basically, she retells, as a Sociopath herself, what it’s like living in their shoes. I’ve taken down notes throughout – since I’m reading this for book research – and I have to say, I’ve learned so much more about Sociopaths than I ever knew.
Honestly, I have to admit, that I was ignorant in what I believed they were vs. what I know now.
Where was I going with this?
This book has shown me – though it’s only about one particular Sociopath – that each persons thought processes is far different from the next. Each criminal thinks far differently from the next. Not even one money fraud person thinks the same. Some use cards, some use checks, some use cash, it all depends on what they feel safe with – because even though they are using it for the wrong purpose, they do want the feeling of safety. . . Mixed with that unbridled feeling of adrenaline that courses through their veins when they do something so sad.
Coming from a persons point of view that is working hard at school, work, and on a book I’m passionate about, I guess I can’t understand their thought processes. That’s why I like books like the one I’m reading, or the show ‘Criminal Minds’. Of course, the woman in my book is far from a criminal, but she does give insight into the minds of a sociopath criminal.
I am a person of the mind, I absolutely love anything psychological, and I want to see what makes people tick. Especially criminals, because there’s something going on in there that really makes them do what they are doing. Past transgressions, fear, false motivation toward an unrealistic goal, personality, etc. The mind of a criminal, out of all minds, is the most interesting. I want to know if they have a choice or not, if they really want to do what they are doing, or not. I want to see how their brains work, the wiring, if it’s different, or just the same as every average person.
There’s probably tons of research on that, but I’ll have to catch up on it later.
What this all comes down to, is the characteristics of the villain’s, or even the hero’s you create. Who are they, what are they, how are their brains wired. They aren’t just a slab of meat on a conveyor belt, they are a living, breathing, human being, in an alternate universe, and it’s your job to make sure it’s real.
Research is all around, people, books, websites, TV shows, everything can be seen as research. My last post was who your characters are, but this one, is where you find them. Just from what I’ve been through yesterday, I realized something about my main baddie. He’s, of course, a Sociopath, that’s why I’m reading the book. But the man yesterday who came up was as calm as any other customer, and gave me a story about some stuff. I took that observation after the incident and realized how smooth my bad guy needs to be. Not extremely eloquent, to the point that you’d think he was royalty; but he needs to hold himself to a standard of misinterpretation to the normal human eye.
His words don’t have to be large and over excessive, they need to be calm and collective. He needs to make sure that no fear will be caught in his eyes, he needs to have a rushes to hide those thoughts he’s running from – all while looking too normal.
Not to say my main bad guy is going to be a simple Joe, with simple thoughts, and a simple name – and I definitely won’t be changing anything about him to fit my observation to a tea – but I do now know how to make him so he seems like the good guy to those that live near him.
Working and seeing the woman’s reaction to my tired slowness, I realized too, that not everyone is going to be so happy go lucky and calm in every situation. They’re going to get annoyed when someone goes slower than they want them to, they’re going to yell when something doesn’t go their way. . . And they’re going to throw a hissy fit, when they think they’re right, when in actuality, they’re wrong. Life is life, and that should be withheld in your characters. In no way, shape, or form should it all become boring normality, but a standard of reality needs to be held for your characters.
Not to say they’re the disgruntled businessman who grumbles through his day. But they are humans (or at least living beings), and things bug them, they do things without reason, and sometimes they just don’t care what they do. They can’t be perfect, they can’t do everything right, they can’t be the epitome of an innocent little baby who does no wrong. No writer I’ve ever read does that, because flaws are the basic human problems in this word. I love all works of writing that flaw their characters, because I feel connected to the character for my own flaws.
Now that I’ve beaten a dead horse that’s most likely already been dead for a long, long time, I shall bid you all adieu.
Thomas, M. E. (2013). Confessions of a sociopath: A life spent hiding in plain sight. New York, NY: Crown.