A to Z Blog Challenge

C is for Character


Dwight L. Moody said, “Character is who you are in the dark.” Story telling is the light that exposes the author. Hardship and disappointment have never been an excuse for me not to improve my own character. They have never been an excuse not to write. Anyone can shine on the happiest, sunniest days, but as Moody implies, character is a thing best understood in the darkness. The places we break, the places we fail, they give opportunity to demonstrate how we put it back together, how we pick ourselves up and try again. Sometimes it is the process and not the outcome that defines character.

Character examination is the true goal of any story. I write horror fiction because I want to examine my characters in the darkness. I don’t contemplate perfect heroes. I don’t examine relationships under the mundane routines of life. I don’t seek out cliche characters and place them in wonderful situations. I don’t want happy endings that are a forgone conclusion or a romantic vision summarized by “awww that’s so sweet.”

I fail. I make bad decisions. I say things I wish I could take back. I am strong, I am afraid, I am happy, I am sad, I am giving and I am selfish. I am many things on many days. My life has a narrative defined by the past and one that predicts some of my future. I make choices, sometimes they are well-informed and sometimes not. My choices have motives. Some I see and some I don’t see. My life’s work is to arrange all those conflicts, decisions and actions into a narrative that defines my character in a way I strive to have it witnessed by others, but mostly as I wish to see it reflected in the mirror. To have my character, when in the darkness, be the same as the one in the light.

And that life’s work is in my stories. I’m not afraid to contemplate people that I am not or one’s that I could never be. But in that character process I try to remain without judgment. I try to see them through them. To understand why they are on the path they are on, not assign my thoughts of what motivates them, but to look into their past and to examine their narrative. To pass on that raw information to my reader and let them decide the nature of the character…and if I’m good or lucky, let the reader find some examination of their own possible choices…the contemplation of his or her own character in the darkness.

15 replies »

  1. Of course I shouldn’t be surprised that you’ve read D.L. Moody. I really am beginning to think you’re the brains behind all Google searches, too.

    One of the things I like about your characters is that they’re so real. Not too perfect, not too strong, not so decisive that they never have a moment of doubt. Just as in real life, the true person comes out when we deal with adversity.

    Three days down, and only 23 more to go. You’re doing it!

    • Don’t you just love a good quote LOL – I have notebooks dedicated to them, but my favorite notebook is defiantly Google ~ I think at this point I’m pretty committed to doing at least some pre-writing on Sunday- this is crushing me LOL

  2. I like that quote. I’ve never thought about character that way. And one should constantly strive to improve their own characters as well as the characters they create. Otherwise there would be no growth for the writer at all.

  3. Are you attacking me? Let’s examine this:
    —”I don’t contemplate perfect heroes.”
    ….I do have my heroes…but *I think* they’re pretty flawed. Imperfectly perfect if you will…I know I’m cliche-ing…someone somewhere put that in my head.
    —”I don’t examine relationships under the mundane routines of life.”
    ::Sticking tongue out.::
    —”I don’t seek out cliche characters and place them in wonderful situations.”
    ….Nah,I don’t either. We’re good.
    —”I don’t want happy endings that are a forgone conclusion or a romantic vision summarized by “awww that’s so sweet.””
    …..We’re no longer good, you and I. It’s war!

    Why am I always taking your blog posts so personal? Hahaha…goes to show the great writer that you are. And, no I’m not really taking it personal. I’m kidding. Loved the post AND the quote. Exploring our characters in their darkest moment: genius!

    • Those quotation marks were straight before. How dare you curve them? Now I look like I don’t know how to use quotation marks. I say its war and you already have the upper hand, how did that happen? lol

    • You are too funny. I am not attacking you…it’s so much more fun when you find the “buttons to push” by accident LOL. But I’m glad I could get in your head especially as you write your next book. I want you to just imagine me standing and reading over your shoulder, raising my eyebrows and muttering, “really?” LOL

  4. In school, we learned that “If character is lost, everything is lost”.
    I enjoyed reading your post and liked what you said about being non-judgmental.
    🙂 Cheers!

    Vidya Sury
    Rocking the A to Z Challenge withTeam Damyanti
    Diary Writing

  5. Very beautifully put Raymond. ” I try to see them through them” , Very nice 🙂 Character is always a process. You either detoriate it or make it better, it has never been constant.

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