On Friday I developed a blind spot in my left eye. It’s like an after-image from a camera flash or a bright light, except that it didn’t go away. Naturally, in my anxiety-fueled brain, that meant I was going blind. In truth, it’s nothing worrisome and will go away, but developing this blind spot got me thinking about metaphorical or psychological blind spots.
We all have blind spots in our way of thinking or way of understanding the world. I would give you an example of mine, but if I knew my blind spot it would no longer be blind. So we need other people to point them out to us.
All of our main characters should have blind spots, too—something they cannot see that impacts their decisions and actions. The blind spot is not necessarily the wound or flaw of the character, but often grows out of the wound—thus making it understandable to the reader so that it doesn’t seem arbitrary or contrived.
In my current WIP, I have 3 POV characters. Ace’s blind spot is that he cannot see the power women wield. Jinx’s blind spot is that she cannot see her own power and worth. Kit’s blind spot is that she cannot see the power of love.
Each grows out of a wound or flaw. Ace, raised in a culture that treats women as second-class citizens and without a mother to show him differently, cannot see women’s value beyond a limited domestic role and believes himself superior. Jinx, rejected by her father and raised in the same culture as Ace, cannot see her own value or power. Kit, having lost her lover and her son, takes refuge in the power of vengeance and sees love as a weakness.
Part of our character’s arc has to be the removal of the blind spot. As I said, no one can (by definition) see their own blind spot, so it is up to circumstances to lift the blinders from the character and open up a new view of the world. Other characters can also play a role by embodying what the main character cannot see. (Anyone want to lay odds on Ace’s meeting a powerful, independent woman in my story?) As the main character’s wound or flaw is addressed, usually the blind spot also dissolves.
My physical blind spot will resolve itself in about 6 weeks.
My characters’ blind spots won’t resolve until they’ve been through the crucible.
Do your characters have blind spots? Do you plan them, or do they just happen as a result of the emotional damage the character suffered in the backstory?