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WOUNDED CHARACTERS in a BROKEN WORLD

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words from the den, j.a. marx, embattled spirit

For deep-thinking READERS and WRITERS

A PSYCHOLOGICAL APPROACH TO DEVELOPING STORY CHARACTERS

HOW do we write a poignant story that’s realistic, emotionally satisfying yet not watered down or vulgar?

AFTER you give your character(s) a name, a personality, a vocation, a purpose for living, and a setting, contemplate the following.

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1) REAL LIFE
(We’ll get to the theme and moral premise soon)

 

People wound people

Pick an offense more exciting
than stepping on toes or
cutting someone off in traffic
><
Pick an affliction
that disturbs the masses:
Betrayal
Abandonment
Disloyalty
Abuse
etc.

PICK AN OFFENSE YOU’D NEVER EXPECT COULD HAPPEN TO YOU!

THEN WHEN IT DOES . . .

Your world flips upside down!
Your soul suffers violent spasms!
And your heart crashes to the floor!
Shattered!

 

∗ Don’t soften the story’s darkness; deepen it.
∗ In the deep dark is where Light shines brightest.

 

2) WEAVE IN EXPECTATIONS (human nature)

Is there any virtue in expecting a human being, made of flesh and blood, to behave as though possessing unflawed talent and perfect character? NONE AT ALL. But we do it anyway.

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     EXPECTATIONS are a great way to ruin any relationship. (Story conflict; essential)

     OUR CHARACTERS are just like us. So raise their expectations and those placed upon them.      Then amplify them. (i.e. If I don’t give him sex the way he wants it, he’ll leave me.)

     USE expectations to set them up for disappointment. Discontent. Disillusionment.

And transformation!

Within the transformation lies an authentically redemptive story  

3) EMOTIONAL RESPONSE

Everyone operates out of  s u b c o n s c i o u s  thoughts & beliefs

 

    WHEN your protagonist’s expectations go unmet, get inside her head.

     What’s her honest emotional response?

ANGER?
VENGEANCE?
MALICE?
WITHDRAWAL?
DESPAIR?

 

    What’s his behavioral reaction?

Speaks his HATE
SHAMES the other person
EXCLUDES his wife
LEAVES the company
HITS his brother
Takes VENGEANCE into his own hands

Attach a physical reaction to an emotional response. ALWAYS

Pain strikes → Emotions are stabbed → Beliefs kick in → Physical reaction

 

4) FACED WITH A CHOICE

To dump or not to dump?

This is the cardinal question
after we’ve experienced
emotional wounding.

And so it should also be for
the faith-filled character

 

Your protagonist has collect all the expectations placed on her or those she has placed on others:

    Will she hurl those expectations to Heaven, and unburden herself?

    Will she bury the festering collection in her heart?

Emotional pain will eventually find a physical voice

 

5) THEME & MORAL PREMISE

    A moral premise adds cohesiveness to a story (each character acts out of complementary internal motivation LINK)

 

Moral Premise (example):
– Casting your expectations of others upon God leads to inner peace and gains friendship (virtue)
– Imposing your expectations upon others leads to inner unrest and lost relationship (vice)

Theme (example): The effects of betrayal on the human soul

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6) INTERWOVEN TRUTH (or message)
     God, the all-knowing, all powerful, all-present, all-loving, sees every aspect of every single person’s life and causes all things to work together for good to those who love Him, to those who are called according to His purpose. (Rom 8)

     His character is eternally good and true; there is zero badness or evil in Him. Zero!

Reader take-away:

If the above is true, I can fully trust Him to come through
To provide
To heal
To comfort
To take action on my behalf
To be my avenger
To meet my deepest, deepest needs

I can expect this from God alone.

DOES YOUR EARTHLY STORY ILLUSTRATE A KINGDOM REALITY?

UNDILUTED LIFE EXPERIENCES
provide
BELIEVABLE CHARACTERS
who have
DEPTH

Time to start writing!

    

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AN EMBATTLED SPIRIT WRITES!
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