by Brenda Roger
I’ve been considering the nature vs. nurture dilemma quite a bit in the past few weeks. It has always been interesting to me because I have only one sibling and she is adopted, while I am by parents’ biological child (or the extra special bonus prize as I sarcastically like to call myself). My sister’s choices and behavior have always been mysterious to me. She has four children, and their behavior and personalities suggest that certain personality traits are imprinted on a human being. They do things that she did when she was little that they couldn't have ever seen her do in order to learn them.
In an effort to better understand my sister, I’ve been trying to separate my own personality traits into two categories: inherited and experiential. If you never tried to do this, I would recommend it. It is fascinating because it is really difficult to differentiate between the two. This photograph shows me when I was about seven, holding a Springer Spaniel puppy. When my husband saw this photograph he said, “even your eyes look happy.” I don’t ever remember a time when I didn’t like animals, but was I born with that, or did something happen that I don’t remember that made me interested in animals?
I'm not excessively neat. I like a good pile of magazines or fabrics going every which way. I would love to be neat, as I enjoy a well arranged and tidy space, but that is something that I have to work at. It doesn't come naturally. If I was only a product of my enviroment, then I would be very neat without much thought or effort.
It is valuable for a writer of fiction to consider what parts of personality are hereditary and what parts are formed by experience. Try to do this exercise with one of your characters. It is much easier to do with a made up person. Even if you never distinguish the source of your character's personality traits in your writing, it could be valuable for you know the difference when you are writing.