After seeing how our characters’ body awareness reflects who they are, and what their Inner Critics whisper in their ears, we analyzed how their fears force them to take action. Now we need to understand how and where our characters draw strength to accomplish those actions.
Once they acknowledge fear, it becomes something to overcome. Not easily. But when they face it, they often see themselves staring back. And somehow, they must find a way to move past the fear, to find a new path. That path may be helpful, or it may harm them. But fear must force our characters to an action of some kind. (Choosing not to change at all is a path.)
Whether those actions make any character a better person or lead him into a darkness of the soul, he must find somewhere find the strength to take the first step on his new path.
So, where do our characters find their strength? It’s not always going to be where the reader would expect.
Ask yourself, “When I am at a loss for what to do next, where do I find immediate strength?” Then ask, “Given the situation my character is in at this moment, where would she draw strength to attain what she wants right now?”
Our Cast of Characters Remains the Same
They’ve caught at least a glimpse of the fears that drive them. To change, they’re going to have to admit to us what keeps them moving toward their goals.
Carolina: She’s hot, she knows it, and she works it.
Carolina’s Strength: Carolina draws strength from possessions—both material and people. It doesn’t matter if she needs an item, as long as it fulfills her need to be the best, the most popular, the most beautiful, the richest. She collects and uses people; the more that attend her, the stronger she feels.
Carolina’s Weakness: What appears to give her strength is transitory, an illusion. When she finally discovers the truth about the wealth and worship she has accumulated, it will knock Carolina’s life off course.
Caleb: His body serves him, he respects what it can and can’t do, and he takes for granted that it will do what he needs.
Caleb’s Strength: He finds strength in stepping in the boot tracks of his ancestors. Caleb’s love and understanding of his environment and the land he holds give him deep roots. The fortitude of everyone who has had a hand in building his inheritance inspires and motivates him.
Caleb’s Weakness: A reluctance to compromise the promises Caleb’s made to the memory of his family could cause him to lose everything he’s built. If he can use lessons learned from his past, and make choices his ancestors may not have, he could emerge from his crisis stronger than ever.
MarySue: Her body is her temple, and if she has to kill herself with exercise and diet to be healthy that’s just what she’s going to do.
MarySue’s Strength: She finds strength in supportive people and groups that keep her on track for a long, healthy life. She uses the memory of her mother’s health issues to stay focused.
MarySue’s Weakness: If MarySue allows her health concerns to take center stage in her life, she will defeat her desire to live a stress-free life.
Howard: His body is giving out on him, but he’s not giving up on it, just giving a lot more thought to every move he makes.
Howard’s Strength: He’s reached an age when a man either gives up or finds new interests in life. Howard’s open to new experiences, even if they involve learning how to function as he ages.
Howard’s Weakness: If Howard’s stubborn nature doesn’t allow him to ask for or accept help when he needs it, he will find himself unable to continue the activities he loves.
Now it’s your turn. Set a timer and write for five minutes about where you draw strength for your writing. Take a short break, and then come back and set your timer for another five minutes. This time, you will write down how that strength might become a weakness if you don’t find balance in your writing life.
Share your discoveries with us in a comment.
With gratitude for the prompts from Laura Probert and her Writing for Warrior Healing course. Who would have guessed that my taking a course for self-discovery would lead to an in-depth analysis on creating characters?