Wednesday, October 30, 2013

Writerly Tip #5: People Can Be Petty

A friend called today to vent about not-so-professional warfare going on at work. It's the old One Colleague Out To Get Another story. It goes something like this:

Colleague #1 is a decent person, cares about quality - and here's the rub - is better at the job than #2. BUT - Colleague #2 outranks #1, and thus is able to subject #1 to humiliating and professionally damaging experiences.  Most seem to agree #2 is the bully, but no one can - or will - do anything about it.

Didja follow all that? No worries. The synopsis: Insecure, bad people in the work place.

Anyone lived this story before? I know you have. Cause I've seen it.

My reaction when I hear a story like this is why in the world can't people learn how to do their jobs better rather than try to take down the competition? Isn't that a smarter way to compete than to kill everyone off? Then, in the end, you're ACTUALLY GOOD AT YOUR WORK.


And because I am so painfully logical, I often struggle to allow my characters to be illogical. I don't want them to be mean/quixotic/spiteful/stupid/irrational/insecure!!! Because I don't want people in general to be that way.

But the thing is, no one wants to read about perfect people.

And, ahem, I guess in spite of my high flying ideals, I am still a work in progress myself. And so I listen to my friend, let him vent, and remember the lesson: people can be petty. And I can't clean it up, even for fiction, if I want them to be believable characters.

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