3. ‘Why’ Stage
- What axioms and definitions influence your character’s decisions? Everyone has certain unique definitions and fundamental assumptions that act as the foundation for his beliefs. For example: materialists define science in a way that excludes God, and this affects their use of science dramatically: they will not allow a divine foot in the door. What are the assumptions, dogmas, and biases that your character has as an integral part of his nature?
- What does your character believe about origins and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about where we all came from? What does he believe about creation? How does he view his beliefs? How does it affect the way he acts and makes decisions? Does he believe that a god created everything, or does he believe that everything made itself? Was it long ages ago, or only recently? Does he believe that we cannot know?
- What does your character believe about afterlife and how does that influence his decisions? What does your character believe about what happens when we die? Do we just vanish into oblivion? Do we have another chance? Do we reincarnate? Are we faced with a judgment day? How does he see this as affecting his life? Does he care?
- What does your character believe about law and how does that influence his decisions? What is your character’s source of morals? Who does he hold to be the authority? Whose commands does he respect? Does he value authority at all? Does he consider the Bible (or whatever is in your world if this is fantasy) to be the revealed Word of God? Does he let any of this impact his life or decisions?
- How does your character’s family influence his decisions? What was the situation with your character’s family? How did his parents bring him up? Did he know his parents? Was he the oldest, the youngest, an only child? Maybe he was abandoned, and didn’t know his parents? These all affect a person a lot, and will provide experience from which he draws to help him decide how to react to the world. How does he allow these circumstances to influence him?
- How do your character’s friends influence his decisions? Does your character have friends? What kind of friends are they? Where are they leading him? What do they want him to be like and act? Are they close, or distant? Do they like him, and how does he perceive them?
- What religion does your character subscribe to externally? Not everyone actually believes in the religion that they claim to practice. We have already settled what your character believes, but what does he subscribe to, or practice? He might be an atheist, but maybe he acts like a catholic because he likes the traditions. Why does he act religious? Does he act religiously at all?
Everyone has a worldview: a set of beliefs that defines how they make their decisions. Everyone also has a history of circumstances that works with those beliefs to influence how and why they act the way they do. These two facets of your character make up the Why of their actions and decisions. You need to understand this part of your character intimately or else he will be very shallow indeed. Remember that not everyone is consistent or predictable (actually, no one is), so do not be too picky about making sure that he makes complete sense. The important part is that he makes sense to himself.
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