The only good thing about angry, irrational people is that they make for memorable characters in stories — the stuff of nightmares, that is. You know. The bad guy whom the hero must somehow overcome, sidestep, or avoid in order to achieve his goal. He is the antagonist who lies or tricks or slashes out in anger for some unknown reason at the hero, or gives a reason which simply makes no sense.
Oh, hey. I have a living example of this sort, one of the storm reconstruction men working on our house. He’s made so many threats to us, and even insisted on holding us captive at a life-changing time of our lives until we called in his boss, and now the crazy man is so mad at us that I wonder if it would have been safer to be held captive. I won’t go into detail for fear of what may happen to us or our property were he to be identified in more than vague worker terms. Seriously.
Writing about him from the “end” of the story, from the realization of what this guy is really like, makes you wonder why we trusted him at all. You see, he didn’t start out that way. He morphed through the weeks from gentle golden retriever character, wanting to please us, to pit bull, watching our every move, manipulating us to turn in this direction or that, poised to strike for no reason. (Apologies to pit bulls.) Just like in any good story, we are given only bits and pieces of what the characters are like until by the end of the book, their full character is revealed. All I can say is that this angry, irrational man has a key to our house, hasn’t returned it, and we are having the locks changed. Unfortunately, the paranoid part of me remembers a locksmith friend telling me that locks are intended for honest people.
Ah, the continuing saga of storm reconstruction stories. It’s not just about the material damage, it’s also about the people, people all around us.
Do you have vivid, real “characters” in your lives who evoke deep feelings? Hang on to them. Remember them. Use them. Translate them into heroes or villains in your stories. And keep on writing.