When Your Characters Don't Share Your Moral Values


Freeway Choices
Photo by Saks08

This week I have a special treat for you guys.  Guest bloggers!!!  

My mom is spending this week with me, so my amazing crit group members have graciously offered to cover some topics that are near and dear to them while I'm "out".  All of these ladies are wonderful writers and offer unique perspectives on writing, so I hope you will give them as warm a welcome as you give me every day.  I also encourage you to follow their blogs--you won't regret it.  :)

So without further ado, I'll turn it over to Katrina...
When Your Characters Don't Share Your Moral Values
In my first draft of my first manuscript, my heroine was just like me: a chubby vegetarian American who’s a virgin when she meets her British future husband. *Ahem* Excuse me for getting so personal when we’ve just met, but it’s true and I’m not ashamed of any of it – except for the part about making my heroine retread the path I’d taken in real life.
It’s a common folly for new writers, and it makes it difficult to improve that particular story. For me, I hated sharing it with people – especially my husband and closest writer friends – because they could see that she was me, and I didn’t want to let them in on the other personal thoughts I’d spewed into my heroine’s head.
For another thing, my heroine became a caricature, not a character.
So imagine my delight when another character jumped into my head. She lost her virginity (out of choice) when she was 14. She smokes, and she drinks enough not to remember crawling into bed with someone. All tricky traits for a romance heroine, so she has to clean up her act quite a bit before she can have her happily-ever-after.
There’s something freeing about creating a character who’s different to you. But what about when the choices your character makes are based on them having a different moral code to yours?
I went to a Christian high school where everyone was expected to have the same standards of behavior, and those standards were based on a shared religious belief. And while my thoughts and deeds have strayed from that standard, I’ve cherry-picked my favorite aspects and incorporated them into my own moral code: be a good steward of the Earth; treat others with dignity; treat your own body with respect.
According to my latest heroine, that’s all a load of bull. While I’m enjoying giving her free reign, I’m struggling against my own control-freakery. The last thing I want is for her to be a completely different person at the end of the novel. Some of her behavior is downright dangerous, and she actually wants to change it. But she has to do it in a way that stays true to who she is; otherwise, she just wouldn’t be human.

Anyone else struggle with this? Do your characters usually share your deepest values and beliefs, or do they have an entirely different way of acting? Do you struggle with making them come around to your way of thinking? Or do you use their differences to push forward your own beliefs?
Katrina writes contemporary romance. An American living in London, she sets her stories in both countries and loves to see what happens when cultures collide.

She ponders all things romance-related on her blog, Reader, I created him.  Go forth and follow!

**Side note: tomorrow will still be Beta Club day, guest bloggers will be back on Wednesday.  :)


**Today's Theme Song - Guest Blogger Choice**
"Way Down in the Hole" - Tom Waits
(player in sidebar, take a listen)