“Character is who and what you are in your essence, after much that is transient and superficial is stripped away. It includes your inner and outer life but is best revealed in the many things you do -especially those little things that you do without much thinking.” (The Healing Power of Stories by Daniel Taylor)
When I think of character, I think of Shakespeare’s plays where he lets his characters reveal themselves through their private thoughts and outward actions. They inevitably show themselves and do as Taylor says, act without thinking. It shows what is truly in their hearts.
When we, as writers, create characters we show them making decisions which may sometimes be quick or even rash in nature. From their actions we may deem what type of persons we are dealing with in a variety of situations and under different circumstances.
We ask ourselves a host of questions about a character. Are they honest? Are they sincere? Or are they deceitful or underhanded? Are they trustworthy? Do they make sound decisions? Or do they flip-flop and appear to be wishy-washy? Is this person a gossip that carries tales? Or does this character protect others’ private information like sacred scrolls? Would we feel safe in this character’s company? Is this a person that we would trust in life-threatening scenarios?
I am currently reading The Nightingale by Kristin Hannah and war has just broken out in France in 1940. Young Isabella has to quickly decide if she can trust a young convict named Gaetan whom she met on the road. All of the people are walking and in motion and she has to be a quick judge of character to see if this is a man she can trust. He subtlety reminds her that if he wanted to do her harm, he had every opportunity to do so. He offers her food and shows that he is concerned about her safety and she decides to trust him during this time of great peril.
Characters mirror real life and the decisions that they make speak volumes. There is an old saying that says, “Who you are speaks so loudly that I cannot hear what you are saying.” More simply put, “Actions do speak louder than words.”
Do you agree?
Lynn M. May 13, 2017