December 11, 2018

Remembering My Uncle Wayne

Uncle Wayne (right) when he and Uncle Bill
visited my mother in 2012.
I received the call today, my Uncle Wayne passed away last night. He was the last of my parents' generation in our family. Always quiet, he could tell a funny story with a gleam in his eye.

Wayne often read my posts and commented on them. It was a great way to connect with him long distance.

In one of those weird twists of coincidence, that I fail to believe are coincidences, someone yesterday found and commented on a post from 2011 that he allowed me to use on this blog. He wrote it, and on the day of his passing, someone commented.

If that doesn't give you cold chills, well, I don't know what will.

In honor of Uncle Wayne, I'm sharing the link below. I'll miss him, but at least I have a bit of his wit available to share with others. Don't forget to read the comments. He chimed in there, too.

The Dreaded Evil Fitted Sheet

Godspeed Uncle Wayne. I hope you're having a great family reunion with Deloris, Bill, Bob, Babs, Henry, Barbara, Vivian, and your parents.

December 5, 2018

What Motivates Your Characters?

I teach a class in Vision Boarding. Most people take the workshop to identify what's truly important to them. Knowing what's important to them allows them to filter through a myriad of opportunities and obligations and choose the ones that fit their vision.

  1. Your values drive WHO you are
  2. Who you are affects HOW you think.
  3. This manifests in WHAT you do.



What is a Value?

As you can see, your values drive your actions. They are the WHY of your behavior.

The same goes for the characters in your story.

Values are the beliefs or concepts that are important to you. For example, if honesty is a value of yours, then your thoughts and actions will filter through that belief first. A character can experience a crisis when following a personal value violates what others expect of them. For example, an honest person doesn't want to lie, but they can avoid a crisis if they lie or bend the truth a little.


Where Do Values Come From?

The short answer? A lot of places.

Some of your values were handed down to you from your parents' teaching. Sometimes, your values are in contradiction to your parents' because you felt trapped or constricted by their values. Other values come from friends, co-workers, companies, church, culture, etc.

How Do I Establish a Character's Values?

First of all, keep in mind we have more than one value. Some are more important to us than others, and the order of importance can change over time. The best way to determine your character's values is to look at a list of potential values and find the five most important to your character. Then everything you write about that character should align with his values or create a problem for him.

I'm including a partial list of values here. It's one I use in a Vision Board class focused on service, but the values are still applicable to your needs.

The process is:

  1. Read through the entire list
  2. Identify the top five values for your character
  3. Narrow the list down to the top two or three that fully drive their actions
  4. Ask yourself how these values appear in your character's thoughts and actions.

This list will help you ensure your character acts appropriately in a story. AND most importantly, help you identify ways to introduce conflict. Keep in mind, when our values are challenged, we experience conflict internally. That conflict will drive our internal thoughts and surface in our actions.

For more information on Vision Board workshops, you can visit these posts on my inspirational blog. Please note, the posts are focused on a ministry service, but the concepts apply to all of life's choices.

November 28, 2018

Character Development: Using the Johari Window

In my last post, Character Development: the Johari Window, I introduced the Johari Window as a tool for developing your characters. It's important that your character not know everything about their situation. These unknowns can lead to an intriguing story and create possibilities for conflict within the story.

How do you use the Johari Window?

In this post, I thought I'd provide a simple example of the Johari Window with a character most people know:  Harry Potter.

Below, I have filled out the Johari Window as it might appear within the first few pages of book 1, Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone.

The Johari Window based on Harry Potter and The Sorceror's Stone

Three of the quadrants in this window reveal what Harry doesn't know about who he truly is and what happened to his parents. I could add a lot to the quadrants representing what he doesn't know, but I hope this gives you an idea on how a Johari Window might be used.

What do you do with this?

Ultimately, you want your character, or other characters in the story, to become aware of the unknowns. In the example above, Harry begins to learn the points in his Not Known to Self quadrants as the story progresses. If you've read the books or seen the movie, you can probably recall the point when Hagrid looks at him and says, "You're a wizard, Harry." It's a great, but simple line that's revealed at just the right time.

Even though Hagrid tells him this, he doesn't explain why everyone in the wizarding world knows his name and becomes excited over meeting him. Rowling does a great job of dropping information in as we need it, and we learn about Harry and the world of wizards as Harry does. These revelations, I believe, are what makes this series so remarkable. Hints exist throughout the books pointing to the information Harry and others will learn. That makes these revelations believable because we can look back and say, "Oh yeah. That makes sense."

How should you start?

The best way to understand the Johari Window is to use it. Look at your current work in progress and fill one out for your protagonist. If that's a challenge for you, try filling one out for one of your favorite books. Then be on the lookout for how the unknowns are hinted at and eventually revealed. Once you've done that, go back to your current work and try it again. You want some points in the Unknown quadrants. Your character needs to discover information about their situation and their selves and others as the story progresses.