Characters in a Story: Who are You?

Who are you?  What kind of novel are you in?  What is the conflict?  If you were reading this story, watching an omniscient (really) narrator describe you, your innermost thoughts, your insecurities, and all your desires, would you have any trouble at all giving your character counsel?  Would it be oh-so-difficult to tell when that character was motivated from selfishness or pride? Would you love to see that story written?  Would you like to see yourself as you are, as you really are, with not one of your thoughts or impulses omitted?

Maybe you’re not a lecherous youth pastor, a hypocritical abstinence counselor, or a thieving neighbor.  But you are something.  A backstabbing friend?  An insecure bully of a father? An unfaithful husband?  A resentful wife?  What?  Trot out your thoughts, every last one, no matter how tiny, no matter how fleeting, no matter how awful or pornographic.  Project them on a screen for the viewing public.  We’d have you pegged in a heartbeat – just as you’d be able to peg us.  A good author could even work with the unhidden things, the things you’re actually willing for the rest of us to see.  Are you a whining fusser?  Do you complain about the weather?  Do you know how much work went into that weather system?  Maybe you resent any obstacle, anything that makes your day longer or harder.  You think you’re under-appreciated.  You, with the way you think about everyone else around you (your mother, your siblings, coworkers, or even your spouse), feel undervalued.  What exactly is your value?  Would the human race falter?

We are always on stage.  We are always in a novel, and even when no other characters are around, the art continues.  The Triune audience watches.  You have been given your body.  You have been given your ancestors, your natural strengths and your natural weaknesses.  The backstory is all in place.  You have been drawn, described, and placed on a stage unlike any other – the Globe.  And you have been given your freedom to act.  Your story has begun already….

We are all watching.  We are all watched.  To some people, this could seem glamorous.  The whole idea of being in a novel or film or reality show is quite appealing.  We know what kind of people they are.  We can see the shallowness, the superficiality of their self-love.  But for some reason, they can’t.  For some reason, none of us can when we are set on making fools of ourselves.  Listen to your dialogue.  Look at your thoughts.  Be horrified.  Be grateful that God loves characters, and loves characters on journeys, characters honestly striving to grow.  If someone else was delivering your lines, would you like them?  If someone else was wearing your attitude, would you be impressed?

What will your character do when the petty things happen, when your car betrays you in the cold?  When the pipes freeze?  When God knowingly places ice on the sidewalk beneath your feet?  When the sun sets beautifully while you needle your wife?  Do you laugh at the jokes and love the lovely?  Are you too important to be amused at your own infinitude?  Are you unaware that your bowels move daily?  How lofty are you?

N. D. Wilson, Notes from the Tilt-a-Whirl or DVD, 32-35.

Trailer for DVD:



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Filed under Christian Living, Christian Thinking, Creation, God, Theology, Worldview

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