Focusing this month on Character Development, because the editor who wants to see my manuscript again wants the characters to have more depth. Sunday I shared that life is all about learning. Today, we’ll look at the mistakes people make along the way. More importantly, we will look at how people react to making mistakes.
I love my daughter, but when she was younger, she wanted to be perfect at whatever she wanted to do. She loved to draw and had some basic talents but when an instructor explained that she had to keep doing the same exercises until she could draw things perfectly, she gave up. The same with needlework, sewing, even cleaning. She wanted to do a quick job and be praised for it.
Almost no one is born knowing all there is to know about some subjects. The common person needs to try things and fail. If you are simply interested in the thing you try, you might give up when you fail. If you truly love the thing, you will keep trying. Failure won’t end your interest.
These days, marriage is more of a five year contract with options to renew. If both parties aren’t happy together, they can go their separate ways and only need to sort out finances and children. I think going into a marriage expecting it to fail and having a way out leads to more mistakes being made. Divorce is certainly a necessity for people, mostly women, who find out the person they loved had been putting on an act during the dating phase. Private investigators, background searches, and employment records are not going too far if you have any suspicions about a person.
But letting that first or fourth mistake of a marriage keep you from seeking out a real love is as much of a mistake as the marriage. Take your lumps and move on. Isn’t that what life is all about?
Another glimpse at mistakes and the reactions to them: Recently the beautiful Colombia River Gorge in Oregon became a deadly and fast moving conflagration after a 15-year-old boy was observed throwing fireworks into the dry, already overheated forest. The boy and his companions did not show any remorse for the actions and had no clue what could be done. The fireworks were a mistake, but a worse one was not accepting accountability for the fire. Certainly, the size of the fire is not the boy’s fault, due to the dry summer and other conditions. Certainly, his parents are more at fault than he is, having allowed him to be off on his own without having taught him values of the world around him. Allowing him to do something so dangerous to amuse his peers comes down to child endangerment.
How would your main character live with a mistake like that? What actions would he or she take to repent and repay for the error? Would anything ever feel like enough? A character coming into a story with that much internal conflict would make for an interesting study in self-forgiveness. The eye witness said, “I didn’t run down to alert the authorities in order to ‘make the kids pay.’ I wanted them to know about the fire, and I wanted the kids to be accountable,” she said. “But I believe that everyone makes mistakes and everyone should be allowed a second chance.”
Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Sunday.