Fantasist's Scroll

Fun, Fiction and Strange Things from the Desk of the Fantasist.


On Human Nature

Filed under: — Posted by the Fantasist during the Hour of the Pig which is in the late evening.
The moon is Waning Crescent

I know a few things about human nature.
It may only be a few things, but they can be important, especially in fiction writing. When I was in high school an English teacher told me that the most dangerous people are those who feel they have nothing to lose. Think about that for a minute. It really makes sense. If a person feels like they have nothing left to lose by taking an extreme measure, of whatever kind, then what would stop them from doing it? What’s left to lose? Nothing, so there’s everything to gain.
And, anyone backed into a corner is libel to fight. That’s a two edged sword, though. First of all, it seems obvious that a person will fight if they’re forced into it. Nothing all that remarkable there, right? Well, take that with the other statement and you’ll see that a combination of these two things can make for a deadly opponent. Secondly, can you imagine a person who would NOT fight when backed into a corner? Why would they not fight? What could make them so deviate from the “normal” response?

In both cases, you have potential for great characters. Imagine a tragic hero who loses everything and feels that they must strike back. Surely they will make a formidable foe who will not rest until justice is served. Or, suppose that it’s a villain. Truly, an understandable, possibly likeable, antagonist who will devil the hero endlessly. Great plots there.
But, the more interesting is the “hero” with a learned helplessness syndrome. How can they win with so much going against them? What makes them panic and how do they go about avoiding it or dealing with it? Lots of room for character development there.

So, enough about human nature, go forth and write!

1 Comment

  1. “[B]eing entirely ruthless was dangerous. Those who dared to stop at nothing often ended up with enemies who had nothing to lose. Putting an enemy in such a position was an error, for a man who has nothing to lose is, by definition, risking nothing to obtain what he desires.”
    –*Storm Warning* by Mercedes Lackey

    Comment by John Cowan — 3/11/2005 @ 3:03 pm

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