Posts Tagged ‘characterization’

From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

January 19

“Learning to Think for One’s Self”

Eons ago I took a required Ethics class and spent weeks listening to lectures and reading material about “What do the terms ‘good’ and ‘right’ and ‘truth’ mean in this life?” Students were challenged to consider many points of view. Ultimately, I came out of the philosophy course understanding just how relative those concepts are. There is no ONE absolute, though lots of people will try their hardest to convince you otherwise. Every human is challenged to think about goodness, rightness and even truth in every circumstance. Why? Because we constantly encounter EXCEPTIONS, times and circumstances when acting in good faith resulted in evil consequences, when holding fast to one ideal of “right” may do more harm than help, when a believed truth can be proven later to be false.

So how does one decide? When is this person good and that one evil, this action right and that one wrong, this statement truth and that one false? The thought-provoking conclusion of the course was that one must THINK and consider all available data before coming to a decision FOR ONE’S SELF . . . then have the courage to act upon that conclusion and accept the consequences of the outcome. Each person is responsible for themselves.

Pretty weighty, huh? But what a sense of freedom that awareness gives a writer when creating characters in fictional circumstances! The antagonists do not consider themselves evil, merely right . . . just as the good guy can make a flawed decision, suffer for it and come out stronger in the end. What incredible diversity and opportunity each writer has available in their own storytelling arsenal to demonstrate “life lessons.”


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From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

November 17

“Using Spontaneity’s Complications”

What happens when a “spontaneous personality” results in a choice that has devastating and permanent results?

I know many people who are not “considerate” decision makers. They rely on knowledge at the surface of their consciousness to make spur-of-the-moment decisions. Some choices are out of the habit of given X-situation, Y-action is necessary. That’s reasonable, because habit means the most common, predictable outcome will result. Then there is the one time disaster results because of unknown contributing factors. Guilt is inevitable or rationalization of “But Y-action always worked before!” No one can truly predict results 100% of the time. The majority of these people evaluate, learn and move on, usually with a more cautious attitude.

But there is the personality who lives in a more shallow plain of existence, who is flippant, careless or a born risk-taker who discounts impact on others. When an instantaneous choice has a catastrophic result, these people can be either clueless or crushed with the sudden realization of the consequences THEY caused. They get an unpredicted “wake-up call” that their actions changed lives in ways they hadn’t considered.

Both of these scenarios provide rich possibilities for a story teller. So much of living is a matter of trial and error learning of consequences, but when those consequences create a domino effect with dire results, the originator can be faced with a major personality challenge. Accept responsibility and change or work hard to block even acknowledging the poor choice. That moment of realization can be a vital moment in one person’s life journey. Hm, it could even effect much, much more beyond the person’s known sphere of reference.

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