Let’s Create our Heroine ~ Brainstorming Wednesday

For the past couple of weeks, I’ve been illustrating how I
build stories by involving you in brainstorming a new one. Whether you’re a reader or a writer, I hope you’re having
as much fun as I am following the comments and throwing in your ideas. 

As promised, today we’ll work on the heroine, but in
addition to exploring the lie she believes, I’d like to include another
important element in the dialogue—her goals. What is she after? What does she
want to accomplish and why? And how is that going to bring her into conflict
with the hero?

Last week, we decided our hero fireman, Jack, believes maybe
his mom was right all along that he’s not cut out to be a fireman. He’s
struggling with his emotions over failing to save the villain’s wife from the
fire. Yet, his fellow firemen’s razzing makes him more determined than ever not
to quit. 

We’ve also given him a faithful Australian Shepherd that he rescued
from a fire. (Great idea, Kav.) Blind in one eye, and singed around the corners, the dog doesn’t
take to too many people. But he’ll adore our heroine who we’ve decided to call

We’ve decided that perhaps she’s a nurse and that’s how she
met the fireman. Or… depending on which villain scenario we ultimately run with,
that her home has simply been mistaken for the hero’s and she’ll fall victim to
a revenge plot intended against the hero.

This kind of vague uncertainty of which path to take is
common in the early stages of plotting a story—at least for me. I like to
explore a number of different paths before settling on one. 

Your turn: What
should be our heroine’s goal? What lie does she believe?

For those who have been following the Wednesday
brainstorming sessions from the beginning, you’ll remember we talked about the possibility
that her dad had left her as a child. Not sure if we’ll go with that scenario,
but that kind of traumatic childhood experience is excellent breeding ground
for lies.

The Lies We Believe

Last Wednesday, I explained how I develop my characters’ spiritual growth by looking at the lie they believe at the beginning of the story and the truth that will set them free by the end. We brainstormed ideas for the hero of our evolving story, and this Wednesday we’ll have some fun with the heroine. 
But today I’d like to look at Ginny Bryson, the heroine of Deep Cover, and discuss the lies we believe.
Ginny cares for a dying mother, and is absolutely devoted to her mentally challenged younger sister. She pours her life into helping others, championing a group home for special needs adults seeking independence, and coaching a T-ball team of special needs youth.
Yet, when her mom takes a sudden turn for the worse, Ginny says to Rick, “I’ve taken care of Mom and Lori my whole life. When they’re gone, I’ll have no one. Be no one.”
This is the lie she believes.
We all have them. Some conscious. Some unconscious. They shape our thoughts, our choices, our actions, and our reactions. Sometimes a loved one (maybe our very own hero) helps us to see the truth. Sometimes God leads us to it in other ways. Sometimes we struggle for years not realizing we’re shackled by a lie.
Your turn: What are some of the lies you’ve believed? Can you share a truth that set you free? Like Ginny, does your sense of worth and identity come from what you do or from who you’re with? Where does God want it to come from?

The Truth will Set You Free

As promised, today we’re looking at how I develop characters. A technique I learned from award-winning author and mentor, Susan May Warren, is to ask what is the lie my hero or heroine believes.
Often the lie is something from his past that changed the way he looks at himself or relationships or the world around him. More than that, it changed his approach to those things.
By uncovering the lie he believes, I can frame a story that will reveal the truth that will set him free.
If the hero (or heroine) believes a lie that resonates with readers, the unfolding of the truth to the hero has the potential to minister to the reader as well. This was my own experience when I began reading Christian fiction, and something I hope my readers will experience.
In Deep Cover, the lie the hero believes is that he alone can, and must, stop the bad guys. So as not to spoil the story for those who haven’t read it, I won’t detail how this plays out in the story.
Instead, let’s brainstorm some ideas for the story concept we talked about last Wednesday.
Let’s go with a fireman hero who was badly burned trying to save the villain’s wife. Perhaps, he hasn’t yet returned to active duty. Perhaps, he blames himself for the woman’s death. Perhaps, he feels he made a poor judgment call in the middle of the rescue.
Your turn: What lie might our hero believe? And/or… have you read a book in which the truth the hero or heroine learned really resonated with you?

The Whole Truth, and Nothing But the Truth?

Today, we’re following up—from the heroine’s perspective—on last Monday’s discussion about whether a hero who lies (for the sake of his job) can be a man of honor.
The heroine of Deep Cover is Ginny Bryson who says,  “I’d rather know the truth than be lied to out of some misguided notion that I’ll somehow be happier or safer.”
Do you feel the same? If you said yes, are you sure?
I freely admit that there are times people have disclosed things to me that I would’ve have been much happier not knowing about. Every smart husband knows how not to answer the question—Honey, does this dress make me look fat?
And yes, if you read my book and hate it, choosing to keep that to yourself won’t hurt my feelings in the least. Honest!
I’m sure each of us can remember a time when we’ve sugarcoated the truth to spare someone’s feelings. It seems like a noble thing to do, don’t you think?
Yet, not necessarily. Sometimes I have to step back and consider whether my words will help or hinder the other person’s understanding of themselves or their circumstances. 
Your turn: What do you think about Ginny’s perspective? Care to share an example from your own experience?
Join me Wednesday to learn how I use lies to develop my characters when plotting my story. And for fun, we’ll play with the strategy on the hero we dreamt up during last Wednesday’s brainstorming session.