The Voices have spoken!
Our book is SET in East Tennessee!
Our hero is an everyday champion – Carpenter/Contractor, Rancher/Farmer, Teacher, Businessman – could be a coach, or a journalist, a coffee shop owner, a health-club instructor, a librarian, or even a….insurance salesman! Anything we want, but he has to be a regular Joe.
So – where do we go from here?
This is the fun part, (okay, it’s all fun in my book), but now we get to discuss WHO our character is.
When you’re trying to figure out a character, knowing WHO he helps us figure out his conflicts.
Here’s how it works: Let’s say that he’s a teacher. And since our book is set in East Tennessee, let’s make a small town there his hometown, maybe he was the football hero there, long ago. He’s returned home to teach…math. And coach football.
So, where do we go? Let’s start with an interview: WHY did he become a teacher?
Maybe it’s because he had a learning disability, and when he was a kid, a teacher believed in him, and he wanted to give back.
Maybe it’s because he is a backpacker, and wanted to make sure he had his summers off.
Maybe it’s because he loves kids, and wants to help them, but he couldn’t be a part of the CPS system, because….his mother was a foster parent, and he saw her struggles.
Or maybe he was a foster kid, and saw how people input into his life.
Following down that trail, let’s pick one – what if his mother was a part of the foster system, and he had foster siblings. What kind of issues arise from that? Maybe he, as a child, wasn’t very kind to his foster siblings, and in fact, was jealous of the time his mother spent with them (maybe his father was gone a lot – a trucker, and he was an only child, expect for the foster children). Maybe he even got a few of the kids deliberately in trouble so that he could get them removed from his house. Maybe, then, he has some guilt about that, now that he’s an adult, and being a teacher is his way of atoning for that. Maybe his mother was an awesome mother, and he sees how she affected lives for the better, and wants to have the same impact, especially since his mother has Alzheimer’s now, and he feels he’s losing her. Paying it forward is a way to be the kid he should have been.
That’s a start. Of course, we can go A LOT of ways with this WHO/WHY question, but you see how it works.
Now, we need to ask another question that is key in developing his character:
What dark moment in his past influenced him today, and what is the lie he believes because of it?
It can be either a singular dark moment, or it could be an overriding dark moment.
For example, what if he has had a foster sibling that his parents connected with – a little brother or sister, they wanted to adopt, and he didn’t want them to (even ran away from home for a week). He made their life miserable, so the foster child left. (maybe they even went to a different foster home and something tragic happened there. IOW: If he hadn’t been so selfish, she will still be alive. )
On the flip side, however, why didn’t he want them to adopt? Maybe he always felt like his parents were always looking for someone else…he wasn’t enough for them. And that plays out in his adult life – he’s a great teacher, a great coach, but he always falls short of winning his division. The lie of “I’m not good enough” is in effect today.
So, all that helps us discover his Greatest Dream, and Greatest Fear, as well as his Strengths and Weaknesses:
Strengths: No child is hopeless – he invests in everyone.
Weaknesses: He probably gives too much of himself, which gets him in over his head.
External Goal: To win the division (maybe the state championship).
Internal Goal: To feel like he is “enough.”
Greatest Fear: He’ll never be enough…(this could be illustrated in having a former student get into trouble with the law, or even commit a crime. Or suicide.)
Greatest Dream: To know he’s made a difference – (but it needs to measurable and specific!) – so maybe it’s to win the football state championship.
Okay, that’s a lot, but see how we started with WHO/WHY, added his Dark Past/Lie and came up with some Greatest Fears, Greatest Dreams, and Goals?
From there, we can draw a profile of the kind of person he is…where he lives, what he drives, his love language (a new element to plotting that we’ll be talking about later).
SO – Now it’s YOUR turn. Go to Voices, and Brainstorm your hero under the WHO IS OUR HERO – Tell me more! Thread. You can build on this one (we’ll call him COACH), or you can develop your own. Rachel and I will pick the strongest (and probably the ones we feel confident we can write about) and put up the final poll next week.
In the meantime….let’s pick our HEROINE!