We love asking this question to friends, family, and even new acquaintances. Whether it’s about a movie, TV show, book, restaurant, place, concert, or event, we enjoying hearing people’s answer. But why?
We want to know how they experienced it. We want to know their opinion.
Because sharing our experiences brings us closer together, and our opinions reveal more about who we are and our perspective on the world. Everyone experiences things differently, and everyone has a different opinion. It’s in our nature to be curious about what others are thinking and how they see things.
Think about it. Why do we go to the movies with friends? Isn’t it kind of silly? You’re sitting in a dark theater where you can’t talk to each other, so why not just go alone? Because we enjoy having another person there to share the experience of the story.
But perhaps more importantly, after the final credits have rolled we can’t wait to swap our opinions about what we’ve just seen. What did you think of the actor? The special effects? The storyline? We love knowing people’s opinions!
So let me ask you: what are your hero’s opinions? Do you reveal them throughout the story? If not, you should! Let’s examine the why, what, and how of showing your hero’s opinion.
Why Show Your Hero’s Opinion?
Showing your hero’s opinion is an excellent way to develop his character. This will add another layer of depth that will make him even more realistic. It also helps your readers get to know who he is and starts to create a bond. His opinions will not only reveal how he sees the world, but will also shape the tone and personality of the writing.
What Opinions Should You Show?
Here’s the crucial bit: only show us your hero’s opinions on things that are relevant to the story!
If government plays an important role, show us his opinion on the government. If his teacher plays a role in a scene, show us his opinion of her. But don’t give us his opinion on things like bubblegum and kittens that have nothing to do with who he is or what’s happening in the story!
Be sure to give us his opinion about any new experiences, events, people, places, etc. he comes into contact with during the story. You’d be surprised how many writers forget to do this!
For example, let’s say the hero finds himself in a top-secret government department that covers up the existence of aliens. He acts surprised for a moment, but then keeps charging headlong through the action of the plot. Wait. Pause. I want to know what the heck the hero is thinking about all this! What is his opinion? Get into the habit of showing your hero’s internal as well as external reactions!
Ultimately, what opinions are and aren’t important is for you to decide. Just remember to keep it relevant!
How Do You Show Your Hero’s Opinion?
If you’re writing in first person this one is easy–you just say what the hero is thinking. But if you’re writing in third person it’s a little trickier.
When you’re writing in third person, try to remember to filter everything through the hero’s point of view. This means the words, similes etc. that you use to describe what your hero is seeing and experiencing should be ones that he would choose himself. Word choice is a more subtle expression of opinion–it lets you know how the character feels about something without actually coming right out and saying it.
You’re also going to want to share what your character’s opinion through their thoughts. Italics work and is what many writers use, but I’m not a fan of them. I think they show the author’s hand in the story and create distance between the reader and character. I prefer weaving the hero’s thoughts right into the narrative. I’ve written an in-depth post on how to do this, which you can read here.
Showing your hero’s opinion is all about looking inward and remembering to balance the external and internal. However, it’s important to keep in mind that your hero’s opinion is more than an emotional reaction–his belief itself will shape his reaction.
Best of luck with your character crafting!