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NaNoWriMo - Characters: Part Two – Beliefs

The thing which brings characters to life is often not any physical appearance at all. You can imagine your hero or heroine as looking like yourself, or like someone you really admire. But what readers best connect with is a character’s behaviour, their deeds and thoughts, and what inspires these said deeds and thoughts.

Deity, Society, Family

These are the character’s beliefs. They tend to fit into three categories:
  1.       Belief about or in a deity
  2.       Belief about or in society
  3.       Belief about or in family and friends

Each one of these will make a profound difference to their thoughts and their actions. So, if you have a character who is a follower of a military deity like Mars, they are likely to couple this with an attitude that human life can be readily given for a cause [belief one affecting belief two]. But if your character is a devout pacifist during a time of war, this will certainly put a strain on their relationships and beliefs about their family and friends [belief two affecting belief three].

I grew up playing Warhammer Fantasy Roleplay, and the hardest part was always remembering to pay homage to whichever deity your character happened to be loyal to. These little aspects didn’t just add to the character, they also gave back to the character.

Here are a few things to think about with characters and their beliefs:
  1.  Everyone believes in something – each of your characters, like everyone on this planet, will believe something about deities, society, and personal relationships. It’s what makes us humans. Your character's beliefs may be that there is no deity, or that society should be Thatcheristic and about one man and his family, but they still believe it. These things will ultimately determine how they live their lives.
  2. Beliefs are subjective – no two people, even those who believe in the same thing, believe the same things about that thing. For example, two of your characters might believe they have a duty to their friend to save them from a danger. One might belief that duty means they have to do something about their friend, but the other believes they should do something about the danger.
  3. Beliefs don’t exist in facts but in truths – Oh boy! This is becoming one of those philosophy modules that frazzled my brain at university. If something is fact you can’t believe in it, so neither can your character. They either know it or they don’t. BUT as soon as someone believes something (like, properly believe it) it becomes truth, although perhaps only for that individual. 

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