Why do you write what you write? Read what you read? How do you sort your ideas and decide what your focus will be?
Each of us has a set of filters through which we see the world. It depends where we come from, what our childhood was like, pleasant or traumatic experiences we may have lived through and what we have learned of life. This is called our worldview.
Our worldview also affects our voice, our style of writing, even the mood of our story. Our personality shows through our characters, through their responses to obstacles and challenges in their fictitious lives. Life-experiences color our composition.
Wikipedia says “A comprehensive worldview is the fundamental cognitive orientation of an individual or society encompassing the entirety of the individual or society’s knowledge and point of view.”
When we identify what we believe and why, our writing will reflect this understanding of the world around us. Who am I? What do I believe? What difference has my set of beliefs made in my life?
As writers, we put ourselves out there for the world to see, in fact, we want as many people as possible to read our work. If we look at writers who have had a major impact on society, they are people who have /had strong beliefs (not necessarily positive or uplifting but personally affirmed).
For example, study this quote by Ernest Hemingway [1929 – A Farewell to Arms. New York: Scribner’s]: “The world breaks everyone and afterward many are strong in the broken places. But those that will not break it kills. It kills the very good and the very gentle and the very brave impartially. If you are none of these you can be sure it will kill you too but there will be no special hurry.” Hemingway’s words give us a good idea of what he believed based on his experiences as a war correspondent.
Mark Twain wrote humorous stories colored increasingly by sarcasm and satire. One of his famous quotes is: “Get your facts first, and then you can distort them as much as you please.”
TO THINE OWN SELF BE TRUE
Besides having your own worldview set in your mind, you must also make sure your characters know what they stand for. This will strongly affect their development. I recently forced myself to read more than half a light romance before giving it up for lost. The problem: the characters’ actions and responses were inconsistent. Why? Because, in my opinion, the author didn’t know them well enough to guide them in consistent behavior in the world she had created for them.
Whatever your experiences in life, make sure you contemplate how they affect your worldview and that of your characters. It may make the difference between being read or being set aside.