One of the really useful questions for a writer to consider when creating a character is: Identity. Who is the character as perceived by others and who is the person as perceived by the character him/herself?
Sometimes these two images are the same. Often they are not and much of the character growth in a story can involve bringing the two images closer together in some way.
This gap can be a powerful emotional element of the story. Think about how you feel when your internal image of yourself does not match how the world perceives you. Think about how you feel when your image of yourself does not match your perception of who you ought to be!
Just as these have a profound impact on YOUR emotions, they would have a profound impact on your characters’ emotions and therefore it becomes one more tool in creating both the person growth arcs within your story and the plot itself.
Why do I bring this up now? In my own life and with people I coach, this issue comes up over and over again. There is always a gap between who we believe we are and who we believe we ought to be and in how the world perceives us. Those gaps create tremendous emotional frustration at times.
Part of what I do for myself and for my clients is remind myself and them that:
1) Life is a journey, a process, a series of steps toward our goals.
2) The ideal strategy is one that honors who we are RIGHT NOW and the steps we take toward achieving our goals of who we want to be and how we want to be perceived by the world.
3) The optimal strategy is one that maps out steps to achieve those goals and builds fun into the process.
The irony is that the easier we make the journey for ourselves emotionally, the more likely we are to achieve the goals.
What steps will your characters take to achieve their goals? What steps will you take to achieve yours and how will you build laughter or fun into the process?
Happy writing everyone!