Define your characters’ morals and values to discover which way they would go in a crisis, and your readers will be more likely to follow too.
If your deepest beliefs drive your writing, they will not only keep your work from being contrived but will help you discover what drives your characters. You may find some really good people beneath the packaging and posing—people whom we, your readers, will like, whose company we will rejoice in. We like certain characters because they are good or decent—they internalize some decency in the world that makes them able to take a risk or make a sacrifice for someone else. They let us see that there is in fact some sort of moral compass still at work here, and that we, too, could travel by this compass if we so choose.”
Anne Lamott. Bird by Bird: Some Instructions on Writing and Life
‘Defining a valued direction produces a more consistent compass heading to direct action during the storms of life, when waves of emotion crash and the screaming minds of the wind blast. Anyone who has engaged in mindfulness meditation for any period of time is aware of how fickle and changeable emotions and thoughts can be. However, values tend not to change so rapidly over time. If the therapist can help clients describe their most basic values for their life, clients can contact a source of stability in an often-chaotic landscape of changing thoughts and feelings. Once clarified, stated, and committed to, values can be like a lighthouse, providing direction during dark psychological nights and story situations.’
Jason B. Luoma, Steven C. Hayes, Robyn D. Walser. Learning ACT: An Acceptance and Commitment Therapy Skills-Training Manual for Therapists