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Is Your Main Character’s Head Filled with Lies?

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards

“Is Your Main Character’s Head Filled with Lies?” by Joan Y. Edwards

Like all human beings, your character’s beliefs determine his opinion of his experiences and sometimes leads to self-fulfilling prophecies. Is your main character’s head filled with any of these beliefs? They are all lies, unless your character makes them true.

  1. I am poor.
  2. I am powerless. I can’t get a job, gain respect, or get a date.
  3. I don’t have enough…time, money, health, friends, gasoline, or groceries.
  4. I always get sick at Christmas.
  5. I’ll never be able to pass that test.
  6. My grandfather died when he was 50. My father died when he was 50. I’ll die before I am 50.
  7. Nobody in my family has ever been anything but a farmer. I must be a farmer, too.
  8. Rich people don’t die in hospitals.
  9. All money is evil.
  10. If I don’t measure up, they won’t let me in the group.
  11. I can’t do this by myself.
  12. If I don’t have a spouse, I’m worthless.
  13. I’ll never be as popular as Susie Bell.
  14. Husbands never get along with their mother-in-laws.
  15. Life is over at 40.
  16. Everyone who lives in that neighborhood is bad to the bone.
  17. If you’re not a member of that club, you don’t count.
  18. I am afraid of the dark.

If you believe you are poor and things will never change, you will remain poor. The more you say you are poor, the poorer you will be. The same with the other beliefs listed. They can all be lies, depending on the attitude and focus of the person who believes them. They can also be truth. Two different people can have the exact same experience and have different reactions. Different beliefs cause different reactions.

  • For instance, Joe brings flowers to his wife. She loves it. Places them in a vase. Thanks him and gives him a great big hug and kiss.
  • Jim has the same belief as Joe. However, Joe’s wife and Jim’s wife don’t have the same beliefs. When Jim takes flowers home to his wife, she throws them at him, vase and all and says, “What did you do? You always bring me flowers when you’ve done something wrong.”

I think it would be good to see what beliefs you think sparked a reaction in a character that you’ve already put in your story. You can show what happens to make him change his belief. It is possible that instead of going from negative to positive, your character’s beliefs could go from positive to negative. He used to believe that he could trust any member of his family until his nephew didn’t pay him back the money he owed.

One or more of these beliefs could be the main theme of your story. Sometimes the belief…either positive or negative is why you decided to write this story. Beliefs determine actions and reactions.

There are three questions for a writer:

  1. What do I want the readers to learn from reading my story?
  2. What does the main character learn from being in my story?
  3. Do the main character’s beliefs at the beginning of the story change? When his beliefs change, his behavior will change. If there is no change, there is no story. To get a different action or reaction, change the beliefs. If you change the beliefs, you’ll get a different story.

I hope that reading the 18 possible beliefs out of thousands of possibilities, you will discover the ones that energize your story and make it a best seller.  If you discover a belief that needs changing in your life, I hope you discover the courage, resources, and wisdom to change it.

My Other Blog Posts about Characterization:

  1. Put Universal Conflict, Theme, and Emotions in Your Story
  2. What Is Your Story’s Premise? Editors Want to Know
  3. Eight Character Archetypes to Emphasize the Conflict in Your Story
  4. Put Your Readers in an Emotional Tug-of-War
  5. Show the Inner and Outer Conflicts of Your Characters
  6. What’s a Sidekick? What’s His Job?
  7. Put Dilemmas in Your Stories for a Compelling Punch
  8. 6 Ways to Make Your Characters Memorable and Enticing
  9. Props for Characters: Toys, Games, and Other Items
  10. Pull Readers in – Show Believable Emotions in Your Writing
  11. Negative Behaviors Are Clues to Your Personal Needs and Those of Your Characters
  12. 10 Shortcuts to Make Your Main Character Vulnerable and Lovable
  13. Make Your Character’s Actions Show Emotions
  14. Desire That Clashes with Values Equals Conflict
  15. Know Your Main Character
  16. What Will It Cost? An Arm, a Leg, and Your First Child?
  17. Put Your Main Character into a Pit and Watch Him Devise Ways to Get Out
  18. Any Job Is Easy, If You Have the Right Tools
  19. Which Crowds of Emotion Do You Follow? Which Do Your Characters Follow?
  20. Inner Motives Lead to Conflicts of Characters
  21. Is Your Main Character’s Head Filled with Lies?
  22. Show Emotion and Conflict in Your Writing 17

Thank you for reading my blog. It is fun to have you here. Please feel free to share a link to my blog with your friends and fellow writers.

Subscribe to my blog to receive a free gift of a Never Give Up logo image, click “Sign Me Up” in the left hand column.

Thanks to the 142 people who like Joan Y. Edwards’ Author page on Facebook.

Celebrate you.
Never Give Up
Joan Y. Edwards

Copyright © 2013 Joan Y. Edwards


8 Responses

  1. Joan, would you like this essay to be reprinted in my newsletter http://mudsmith.net/bobbing.html ?


    • Dear Dr. Bob,
      Thank you for writing. That would be awesome to have my article in your newsletter. Just put my copyright information, written by me, and a link back to my blog.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  2. Joan,
    If a reader can get inside the head of a character, the author deserves a compliment for a job well done.


    • Dear Linda,
      Thank you for writing. You are right. When a reader can get inside the head of a character, the author deserves a compliment for a job well done. Enjoy your reading and writing!

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  3. You always think up terrific lists, Joan, full of all kinds of possibilities!


    • Dear Susanna,
      Aw shuckins. You say the nicest things. I appreciate the compliment. The world is full of possibilities. I am glad that Linda Andersen introduced me to you and your workshop.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


  4. Especially good post, Joan. Food for thought. Thanks and hugs, Sarah.


    • Dear Sarah,
      Thank you for writing. You are welcome for the post. I’m glad it gave you food for thought. Good luck with your writing.

      Never Give Up
      Joan Y. Edwards


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