Well. I’m letting you (and me) off the hook.
This isn’t about our personal character. (You know, the interior part of us, the part where integrity sits.)
And I’m not going to ask you where you’re from — your physical geography — the point on the map where you lay your head at night (as in the state of Michigan, where I live in the US, called “the mitten state” because it looks like a mitten).
This is about your story — your characters in that story.
Their personal, emotional states.
As in how we feel at any given moment.
Oh — and if you’re not a writer — keep reading, because
there’s something important here…
(it all makes sense when you read to the end).
There’s a not-so-secret secret to help you create compelling characters (and a compelling plot line, too).
State doesn’t come from outside influences
(what people say or do “to” you).
Your personal state comes from you.
You and I create our own states.
(And your character will create his or her state.)
You create state in three ways (and they’re very cool, by the way):
1. Your focus. Answer me this: At any given moment, what are you thinking about — and what are you doing? Wherever you place your thoughts and energy on feeds your state.
2. Your language. And answer me this: What do you say to yourself, day after day, in your mind and out your mouth? Words are uber-powerful. What you think and say to yourself, in your head, matters. What you say toward others around you matters. Even what you say to objects — things — in the world around you matters. It all feeds your state.
3. Your physiology. One more question: How are you moving your body? Are you slumped and breathing shallowly — or are you sitting tall and taking in deep, full breaths? How you sit, stand, walk, breathe — and how you look on your face — it all feeds your state.
Your focus, your language, and your physiology.
All three ascribe meaning to your life.
(how you interpret the world)
(what you believe in the world)
(what you do in the world)
The coolest thing is this: Master your emotional state, and you can master your life.
We want our characters to struggle, right?
If you want your character to wrestle with demons big time, then have him or her…
- focus on past mistakes and hurts
- focus on how they’ve been wronged, whether imagined or real
- focus on impending doom in the future, whether imagined or real
- focus on how someone will supposedly hurt them (imagine the worst)
- focus on how everything will be bad, or go wrong, or have no solutions in the future (pessimism)
- speak out negative imaginings
- speak angrily, with disdain
- curse people, things, and events
- rehearse what went wrong — and what could go wrong
- imagine the worst case scenario, then make decisions based on fear
- sit still — don’t move
- breathe shallowly
- slump, hunch, slouch, drag, look down, sigh, frown, be static, stare, and stay in one spot
And if you want your character to gain momentum and grasp onto triumph, then have him or her…
- focus on the present
- focus on personal responsibility and personal growth
- focus on the positive possibilities
- focus on responding well him- or herself, not on how others are responding
- focus on a faith-filled vision
- speak out positive outcomes
- speak with kindness, from though-based discernment
- speak words of hope and faith over other people
- rehearse what will go right in the future
- imagine the best outcome — and all the other positive possibilities
- move — act — get up and go
- take deep breaths, with their eyes upward and smiling
- stand tall, stride, grasp the sword, bound, be alert and quick, grin, be active, meet others’ eyes, and get going
Maybe this isn’t just about the characters on the page, after all.
PS. Thank you to my dad (Hugh Brown) and Tony Robbins (who I’ve followed since he and I were young) for bringing these ever-so-cool life truths to my attention at an early age. Sure has made life easier and more enjoyable — and helped get through life’s ever-changing story arc. hugs to you both.