The Scots poet Robert Burns wrote, famously, of being able to look at oneself as an outside observer:
O wad some Power the giftie gie us
To see oursels as ithers see us!
It wad frae mony a blunder free us,
An’ foolish notion…
For writers seeking to create believable and well-rounded characters, however, another important question to ask is, how does a character see him-or-herself?
This question has more than one side to it. The more obvious side, perhaps, deals with a character’s secret self-doubts and hidden shames: the heroic leader who is inwardly convinced that he’s making a bombastic fool of himself every time he has to make an inspirational speech; the charitable volunteer who secretly hates the good works they do out of a sense of duty.
On beyond that, however, is another question: what is the character’s heroic self-image? That is, when they’re…
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