a CEO walks into his office “any messages?” he asks his assistant
“two anons want to know who tom petty is and one just says ‘post your ballsack’”
“got it. check my dashboard”
“that skeleton gif you like is back again”
he rubs his chin pensively “mm. reblog that”
Well, bullies don’t always have to have a personal grudge against the person they’re bullying to motivate their behaviour.
When I was younger I was bullied out of my first primary school. Strangely enough, once the girl bullying me realised I would be leaving to go elsewhere, she was nice to me again, and my mother was horrified to find one day that I’d forgiven her and was spending time over at her house after school. Well, kids are strange… I was no exception, ha ha!
I’m not sure even now why that girl did the things she did to me. One thing I do know though, is that I never provoked her (at least, not consciously).
So you don’t have to make your main character actively do something to attract negative attention from your bully characters to flesh them out. However, you can put a little thought into other reasons behind the behaviour…
Why might the bullies dislike your main character?
A parent’s response is always, ‘They are just jealous of you, because you’re _____ and they’re not’. You can fill whatever you like into the blank (smart, pretty, confident, popular, etc).
Jealousy is a powerful motivating factor for bullies, especially among younger kids/teens. So what reason might your bully character have to feel jealous of your main character?
Some people are raised in an environment where they’re not encouraged to respect others or their individuality. They have their own standards of conformity - fortified by a like-minded majority - so it makes sense to belittle and dismiss those who don’t fit the same mould. If they make someone else feel ashamed of the things they like and enjoy, then it means their own interests are protected and seen as the ‘norm’, so they can indulge in them without criticism.
If they have been brought up by people who exhibit the exact same behaviour, it is more likely they’ll pick up the same habits.
Think about what kind of home your bully characters come from and the kind of people they spend their time with…
I used to study Sociology and we watched a video about low-income and breadline families. The video followed the daily lives of several families, including the experiences their children had at school and outside of the home.
A little girl in the video was found by the journalist crying on her own around the neighbourhood. When she was asked about it, she said, ‘They keep calling me a scruff. I don’t know why they call me that, because I’m not a scruff.’
In England, a ‘scruff’ is a word you might use to accuse a person of not keeping good personal hygiene or doing unclean or dirty things. They called her that because she was poor… in school, it is quickly understood when someone is very different.
Children are particularly receptive to what kind of things they need to do/say to fit in. In our capitalist society, it’s the ‘norm’ to buy nice things and have enough to money to fund yourself through school (in England, this is buying uniform, school supplies, things in the latest trends, etc). People sharp notice when you can’t afford a new school jumper every year, or if you use free school meals.
So sometimes, bullies do/say awful things towards people because others around them are doing exactly the same thing. It means they get to roll with the majority and the unfortunate person they’re picking on is an example of what not to be in order to maintain that status of normality.
It’s pretty common for some young adults to single out and harass those whom they share ‘undesirable’ qualities with. That way, they put themselves at a distance from being accused of the same things.
In this instance, the bullied person isn’t actively doing anything to deserve hate other than being themselves.
They Were Once Bullied Too
Finally, sometimes people bully others because they have been bullied before as well. They feel more secure if they’re the ones in control. Or perhaps they understood that in order to fit in, they have to push other non-conforming individuals around to avoid being put back in the same boat.
Once you’ve chosen the reason behind their behaviour…
That’s the first step to fleshing the character out, and making them appear less two-dimensional. Remember: everything in the story must have a reason. A bully character only becomes two dimensional when they have no reason for doing what they are doing, other than to offend/upset the main character. That in itself isn’t a good enough reason, especially if the bully character is given enough limelight to leave your reader wondering… after all, it is natural to ask something like, ‘Why are they being so mean?!’
As long as you know to put some thought into it, then you’re well on the way to avoiding a two-dimensional character like that.
- Writing Bullies
- Bullying Forms/Types
- BBC: Understanding Bullying
- Bullying UK
- /society/bullying @ The Guardian
I hope this helps…! Admins and followers, please feel free to add in your own suggestions and tips :)
From the ask box:
Sometimes kids bully… For fun, shocking I know ahah, but really when a lack of empathy combines with a need to ‘fit in’ and need for entertainment why do you expect? Not to mention pack mentality and showing dominance… Plus the whole thing about how bonding over a common dislike is faster and stronger then bonding over a common interest. - ukej
Stunted growth is the most common side effect of malnutrition in childhood. This generally means that those affected consistently do not meet the required milestones for growth throughout childhood and into adulthood. However, sometimes there is such a thing as ‘catch-up growth’ where the child, once given sufficient nutrition between the ages of two and eight, is able to join age-appropriate classes and perform at the same ability as their peers.
In severe cases, ‘catch-up growth’ might not happen at all, meaning the individual does not reach an average height or achieve the average BMI of others their age.
So how does childhood malnutrition impair behavioural development? In various ways, including the following:
- Effects on cognitive development, resulting in lower IQ scores;
- Delayed motor development;
- A greater degree of behavioural problems;
- Deficient social skills;
- Decreased attention span;
- Learning deficiency;
- Lower educational achievement.
Generally, someone who suffers with malnutrition in childhood is going to struggle later on in life to keep up with others in both intellectual and social aspects of life.
Think about the kind of growth a person’s body goes under between the ages of two and eight; if the body doesn’t get vital nutrients in order to support this growth, then the growth simply won’t happen, at least not at an optimal rate.
This is something you’ll have to do your own extensive research on in order to fully understand. I do hope that what I’ve provided is a good starting point for you though…
Here are some more places to try out:
- Stunted Growth
- Early Child Development: Nutrition
- The Long-Term Cognitive Consequences of Early Childhood Malnutrition: The Case of Famine in Ghana
- Impact of Malnutrition on Health and Development
- Consequences of Malnutrition May Be Reversible Later in Childhood
- FYCD: Previous Ask on Emaciation
I hope this helps…
More from the ask box:
It should be noted that Harry Potter, based on the information we have, should have had stunted development, especially since the Dursleys did not provide him the love that a baby needs to develop cognitively. Also, anon might want to look up Danielle Crockett. - Anonymous
Agreeing to make couple OCs with someone but neither of you are allowed to show your OCs to each other until they are ready and now those two are going to get together and they must work it out no matter what
let’s do it