I recently joined a book club discussion for Unlikely Return. It was a ton of fun. The members of the group tossed questions my way and one of them really caught my attention.
Q: Why do characters do things that seem illogical?
Since I write relationship-driven stories, my characters make decisions and act in ways that create issues in their own lives, often defying ordinary logic. Why?
It would be easy to say, “well, that’s just drama created by the author to gain and keep people’s attention, like movies and television.”
True. So true. We do aim to gain and keep your attention!
But the deeper truth is that people are driven by two powerful forces that are fundamentally at odds in our lives.
Love is the reason we’re here. It is our purpose and the driving force for life. Without love, we literally cannot survive. Without love, our lives lack meaning. Without love, adults lose vitality, health, quality of life, and longevity.
We’re hard-wired for fear. Fear is the force that sometimes inhibits us from the experience of love, often at critical times in our lives. Fear is the driving force behind most of life’s dramas, small and large.
Fear is the reason we sometimes make illogical decisions and act in ways that create issues in our lives.
Fear is the force that we authors tap to show the messiness of our characters’ lives. Without the messiness and the drama, we wouldn’t have conflict in our stories. Without those elements, we wouldn’t have stories that anyone would want to read.