Sunday, June 20, 2010

A Man's Character

Christy here, wishing a Happy Father's Day to you!

As I began to think about what to blog about on Father's Day, the first people who came to my mind were - of course - my father, stepfather, father in law and husband.

Well, this day is a bittersweet one in my household. You see, my father passed when I was 16, and then my father in law passed 9 years ago. I'm so thankful to have a wonderful stepfather and grateful to have such a wonderful husband for my children. But the actual day of Father's Day comes and goes with my husband and I privately reflecting on our dads who are now in Heaven.

I prefer not to dwell on things that make me sad, missing the important people who really are in a much better place... My form of therapy results in turning things around and writing about them.

For me, men play a very important role in my stories. I have about 3 stories on my stove (the brain, that is) brewing and simmering... and one thing they all have in common, although they are 3 very different stories, is that the male characters must stand out and are unique in their development. One man is very troubled, nearly to the point of insanity. In another story, the man is strong, takes care of his family and wants to protect his children. In the other story, the man is torn between honor to his parents and the promise he owes to his dead sister.

Each man is different. They were raised in different families, experienced different challenges in their lives. The one similarity they share is that each man will have a quality of the men in my life.

In my manuscript, The Bridge Between, many of the mannerisms of Tom, the hero's father, reflect the mannerisms of my father in law. Tom smokes. My father in law, Bill, smoked. Tom rolls his eyes at things his children do, and sometimes rolls his eyes at his wife, and that reminds me a lot of times at the way Bill would react in certain situations.
Tom is a mechanic. My own father, Bill, as well as my father in law, Bill, too, were mechanics. Many things Tom does remind me of my father and my father in law. It was something purposeful I did because I love my father and father in law very much and wanted to give them a special honor. Of course, the character of Tom is a very special character to me. I've written scenes in his POV that won't ever show up in The Bridge Between because of the length of the book and because of the house I'm targeting. I'd love to give Tom his own story one day... Amazing how secondary characters take on a life of their own.

Many writers look for character traits in movie stars. I haven't been able to do that yet. I've found unknown models that are similar to the image of my characters, but I connect more with my character when I can visualize them being like real people in my life.

In one of my brewing stories, the father in the story has had a horrible life and seen many horrific occurrences. He's mentally challenged. His daughter loves him but doesn't know how to care for him. She needs help but is afraid to ask. She doesn't want to appear weak, and asking for help would be admitting her failure. The father in this story was not based on any of the men directly related to me, however. No, the father in this story, who is still nameless - even the story doesn't have a title yet - is based on a real man that I do not know, but that I see quite often. It's as if every time I see this man, God touches my heart with this story. I yearn to write this man's story...

I could go on and on. This is a subject I love to talk about, as I'm sure you can tell. Experts tell newbie writers to "write what you know."  I prefer to research things that interest me and then write about them. But when it comes to my characters, I have no choice to write from the heart. And it's in my heart where many of my character's dwell, mixing with the people I know, that I talk to every day, that have gone on to be with the Lord, that will always be in my memories.


  1. What a beautiful tribute to your father and father-in-law - to weave them into the character in your book. I don't know of a higher compliment you could pay to them!

  2. I'm spending this Father's Day not only without my father who passed in 1996, but without my husband, who is spending this week with his sons on a Boy Scout campout.

    Christy, I love that you and hubby use this day to reflect on your fathers. They were both taken from y'all much earlier than expected, yet they impacted your lives, as well as the lives of your children.

  3. Thanks for the compliments, Ladies!