Last night as I was falling asleep (or tossing and turning, depending on the point of view), a portion of the climax scene for the Perceval novels came into my mind, playing out like a movie. No, I’m not going to describe it here (smile), but what came into my head upon waking this morning is this: is Evan Quinn a courageous character? Or is he actually a wuss? And then, how does a writer create a courageous character without sounding preachy or goody-goody about it?
What is courage?
When I looked up “courage” in my handy dictionary, I found an interesting word history. It comes from Middle English “corage” which came from Old French: “cuer,” the word for “heart.” To have courage is to have heart. Well, the definition is “mental or moral strength to venture, persevere and withstand danger, fear or difficulty.” But it also takes nerve to be courageous and a strong heart. Courage does not mean the absence of fear. Courage is the ability to act despite fear. Using fear as a motivator rather than a paralyzer. Courage is something most people believe they don’t have and don’t think about it, especially in the midst of an action that is, in fact, courageous.
It takes courage to express oneself honestly and create original, fresh writing, share that writing with others through publication (or a blog), because the writer is sharing her soul, her innermost imaginings and heart for others to read and experience. This is true for artists in general. And every occupation has something that is fear-inducing and requires facing that fear and doing the job anyway. Performers suffer stage fright but perform. Conductors (and other musicians) also suffer stage fright but they conduct. Having that fear, that edge, can also be a good thing.
I haven’t decided yet whether Evan is courageous or actually a wuss. My imagination gave me only last night some of the material I need to figure that out. He is very much a human being with flaws and strengths, and a heart. I trust that by the time I arrive at the climax of book 5, Perceval’s Choice, my imagination will have provided me with more material so I’ll know the answer and will be able to write the ending to that book and the series….