Quick! What is the first thing you think of when I say “character”? Perhaps you think of a fully-formed, though fictional person. Or perhaps you think “a real character” – like a class clown. Or, if you are like me, maybe you think of the six pillars of character* – those moral qualities that make up a person. And that is what this post will be discussing: a character’s morals.
I tend to start by building the superficial bits of a character – how they look, what their name is, and what they do for a living. But as I write, I always find the characters lacking. They aren’t real with just those few bits. They need something to believe in, to stand up for, to drive them through any situation that they might encounter. They need morals.
When I started writing QFS and created the protagonist, Lacey, I started by deciding what she stands for. I gave her a strict belief in the religion of her nation (though she does struggle with it sometimes) and a longing to help others. I developed her character first.
When thinking about a character’s character, there are some important things to keep in mind. What drives them might conflict with their morals. Maybe their morals are skewed, or maybe they simply are lacking in some areas. Look at the 12 archetypes (The Innocent, The Orphan, The Hero, The Caregiver, The Explorer, The Rebel, The Lover, The Creator, The Jester, The Sage, The Magician, and the Ruler) and see if your character could fit any of them. Try to combine two or even three of the archetypes. Use the six pillars of character (trustworthiness, respect, responsibility, fairness, caring, and citizenship) to create even more interesting characters. Experiment!
Take care, fellow travelers.
*I work in a school, and have been helping our students learn about the six pillars of character for the past couple of weeks.