Monday, January 23, 2012

Of Noble Character

I read a very good book the other day. The characters were so well developed that after I finished the book, I wondered what they were doing now. That’s quality writing!

My old college professor once reduced fiction to this: something happens to someone. He emphasized that the someone is the key to the story. It’s the someone about whom your reader cares. It’s the someone to whom your reader relates. It’s the someone feeling, affecting, becoming that your reader watches, feels for, worries about…and loves, or loves to hate.

Developing fictional characters requires dedication, especially if you write Christian fiction. You want not only to entertain, but also to make the reading worth the reader’s time. Have you created someone the reader would recognize if he bumped into him in real life? Have you made your hero someone your reader would be proud to know, or your villain someone the reader would be terrified to meet on the street?

Discipleship Tools tells us, “Character is a spiritual Fruit that is built from our real, godly relationship and commitment to Christ as LORD. It is the fiber of our moral center that stretches throughout our being, embracing and holding together our relationships when it is sealed as a choice and commitment, and not just a feeling or a personality.” Many character traits are discussed in Galatians 5:22-23, and dozens of others are found throughout the Bible. So when you’re creating someones for your readers to love (or loathe), keep these traits in mind:

  • Love will enable us to appreciate our brothers and sisters in the Lord, and, of course, our family, and others around us.
  • Joy will allow us to enjoy His creation, others, and our circumstances with an expression of delight and real, authentic happiness from and with harmony with God and others.
  • Peace is surrendering and yielding to the Lord’s control, for He is our ultimate peace!
  • Patience is showing tolerance and fortitude to others, and even accepting difficult situations from them and God without making demands and conditions.
  • Kindness is practicing benevolence and a loving attitude towards others.
  • Goodness displays integrity, honesty, and compassion to others, and allows us to do the right thing.
  • Faithfulness is the “gluing” fruit that will preserve our faith and the other characters of the Spirit as well as identify God's Will so we can be dependable and trusting to God and others.
  • Gentleness is the character that will show calmness, personal care, and tenderness in meeting the needs of others.
  • Self-Control will allow us to have discipline, and restraint with obedience to God and others. (via Discipleship Tools; more can be found here)

Believe it or not, villains often start out as noble characters and at a critical point in the plot either choose ignoble desires or have their true, evil intentions revealed. While the fruits of the Spirit and other biblical character qualities may not seem to apply to all someones, they are still useful for developing characters fully, even if it means looking to them to develop completely opposite traits. And remember, it’s not the something that’s so important in a story, as much as it is the someone to whom it happens.

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I'm so glad you stopped by!

This sums it up ;)

This sums it up ;)