Wednesday, July 6, 2016

The Authentic and Deceitful Sides to a Main Character

Notes from Intensive Interview Interview Class.

Readers are quick to determine if a character is real or not. 

Believe it or not, the realism reader's want is the deceitful ways we all portray ourselves to each other. Hang on, this ride is about to get bumpy. Trust me, the trip is worth your reading time.

When I was a teen, my mom blew up at me at least weekly. I was not a saint, and she'd be the first to admit that. Here is the scene: Mom is yelling at me and the phone rings. She stomps to the phone hanging on the wall, clears her throat, yanks the receiver off the phone, and says, "Hello?" in a sweet voice. 

Can anyone here say they've never switched from blazingly angry to perfectly kind on the outside while still angry on the inside in an instant?  The boss, the dad, the co-worker, the politician, the actor, the list includes everyone. 

This is the foundation for our main character. She starts the story in a needy state. The problem is:
*she doesn't know it
*she won't show it
*she doesn't know what to do about it

As far as the world around her (and possibly herself, too) is concerned, everything is fine. I'm fine. Leave me alone. Would you just go away?
Bookmark from
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She isn't receptive to any advice in chapter one, because she is still trying to figure out her situation. This is the story. The authentic story. The revelation of her problem, the lowering of the mask, and in the end the this problem. Stay tuned. She has many more to deal with in another story waiting to be written.

In the case of my mom, she might have thought her day would have been perfect had daughter number two not committed the offense. But the caller happened to be Aunt Gail, who had three well behaved daughters. Aunt Gail called to share yet another of her daughter's accomplishment. And my mom--well, bless her heart, she had to deal with the likes of me and my teen years. Sigh. Poor mom.

But what Mom only saw was my actions and what she heard me say. The only one who knew my heart was God. He even knew me better than I did. Thank God. He saw something special. He has even chosen to work with me ever since.

AND THAT IS WHAT YOUR MC ALSO NEEDS. A chance to be a work in progress. One who chips off one issue at a time until the mask is gone, like all of us.

Here are some questions to help you:
1. How deep is your MC hung up in her issue in the beginning? This is so important to know.
2. What point of resolving her issue do you, the author, hope MC to be at in the end? MC may not resolve her issue. She may only be at the point of ready to admit she has the issue.
3. The day MC was born in your mind, what did God tell her she was meant to become?
4. How do her friends treat her? (She is allowed to have her friends treat her great...perhaps this isn't her issue or perhaps she has deceived them all.)
5. How is her deceit shown itself to those around her...and to her own self?
6. Does she have any physical issues that play a role in this story's situation?
7. Has her deceit to others and/or herself created any issues before the first chapter that needs to be threading into the story?

As writers, we NEED to paint the realism, which will include a bucketload of deceit. 

Look at the Bible. In Genesis, God asked Adam what he did. Adam said the woman told him to eat the fruit. Eve said the serpent deceived her. And right she was. Still, she made the choice and so did Adam. The whole story of redemption from Genesis to Revelation tells of our being deceived, making wrong choices, and God's demonstration of love for us through salvation-the only escape from deception.

Original Photo courtesy
Research for todays post came from Nancy Rue's class at Mt. Hermon, 2016

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Rock climbing, white-water rafting, zip lining, and hiking top Mary's list of great ways to enjoy a day. Such adventures can be found in her stories as well.

Mary writes young adult mystery/suspense, is honing marketing and writing skills, and loves to pen missionary and tell Bible event stories on her ministry blog, God Loves Kids. She has finaled in several writing contests.

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Heather Marsten said...

And then there's the looking g"normal" when you live in an abnormal house. In my memoir, I write about imitating what others are doing. As a child I would have been killed (literally) if I let on about the abuse I was receiving at home - so at school after I got beaten when a teacher wrote on my kindergarten report card thatI acted like a 52-year-old adult, I started copying the behavior of other kids so I would fly under the radar of the teacher.


Mary Vee Writer said...

Excellent thought, Heather.
A 180. Hadn't thought of that.
And, BTW...I am so sorry you experienced what you did. It seems you're healing, though...for that I thank God.

Unknown said...

Hi Mary: I like to let you know that I found your blog post on this subject very educational. I am at the beginning; the very beginning at trying my hand at writing fiction. I am looking forward to addressing the questions you pose of 'my main character'; that is after I decide who that is. Thanks for sharing your knowledge and experience. Take care. Mary

Mary Vee Writer said...

There is no greater compliment. Thanks, Mary. MC may be shy about telling you his/her name. She may be shy, or embarrassed about her story that you are about to tell. But once she realizes you are endeavoring to help others--a major benefit to Christian Fiction--she will open up. The story telling world is so much fun!