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Monday, July 8, 2013

Revealing Your Character's Vulneralbilities For Maximum Impact

I know I said that I was going to wrap up the Archetype series posts, but I've decided to do that within my new Writer's Guide to Character Archetypes. I'll be sure to let you know when that hits my store.

Instead, I wanted to share something personal and then apply it to writing.

Yesterday, in church, my husband and I gave our faith journeys. Now to those outside of religious circles, this might seem mystifying. However, all this really means is being candid about the ups and downs of our life, and how we viewed these events in light of our personal beliefs.

With that definition, everyone has a faith journey. Let's call it our vulnerabilities.

The circumstances had to be just right for us to open ourselves up like we did. We've been attending for over three years, and we had yet to share the majority of what we said with anyone.

This got me thinking about our characters, and how the vast majority of them end up sharing a pivotal point in their past with someone in their present, whether willingly or not, and this is a big part of their character arc. Coming to peace with past sins, rejections, closed doors, disappointments... and communicating this to someone important...easier said than done.

What makes someone ready to share?

Is it external? The character is annoyed or resigned to have to share, brow-beaten by someone to give up their juicy tidbits, or survival demands it.

Is it internal? If the character doesn't share, they'll regret it forever, or they are trying to win the love of someone, or the end outweighs the sacrifice of sharing.

Which is more powerful, at least in terms of character development?

Internal motivations. (Click to tweet!)

If we had been strong-armed into sharing rather than asked and given a choice, it would have been an entirely different presentation. We might have left things out. We might have fudged on a few details...just to get you out of our hair.

Yet, if my motivation of sharing my vulnerabilities was to move you, inspire you, connect with you through the use of my story, my history, my dark moments, then it's bound to be more powerful and come across the written page as such.

Let's Analyze

Have you ever thought about what prompts your characters to finally open up? Situational circumstances? Emotional readiness? What do you think about my opinion as to which is more powerful?