Jeff Gerke’s book Plot vs. Character contains information vital to creating believable characters. I’m not doling out all the information in the book–you’ll need to buy it to get it all–but I’m offering the highlights. Today’s topic is passion.
Every person is passionate about something, and your character should be, also. Religion, politics, quilting circles, protecting children from predators, freedom of speech–whatever he’s passionate about, it will impact how he thinks and acts. The woman who’s on a mission to make sure every child in her kindergarten class is well-fed will act differently than the kindergarten teacher who’s zeal is to find the perfect mate. A character who hates conservative authority will think differently than a character who passionately defends the welfare system. Knowing what your character feels passionate about helps you determine how she’ll react in stressful situations.
Every person is religious. Even those who state there is no God is making a faith statement, and systems of belief are powerful motivators. Does she hold fast to the morals taught in the Koran? Does she cling to the hopes inherent in Christianity? Is she a Jew in name, but an agnostic in practice? Show your character zealously expressing her beliefs. When she’s in the midst of crisis, her true beliefs shine.
Fill in the blank for your character: “I love enough to die for it.”
Once you know what your character would die for, put her in the position to test that passion.