The Human Observation Project: Passions and Beliefs

We all have responsibilities in life – things that need to be taken care, places to be, etc.  But what about your soul?  Do you take time to feed it?

If you love to exercise, do you find the time?  If you have a passion for something, do you pursue it despite the costs involved?

A recent incident in my life has made me analyze the path I have chosen to take in life, and has left me in a complex situation.  My choices, my passion, and my beliefs have left me in conflict with those I had loved the most.  However, I am determined not to let others alter my path, even family.

How can we use passions and beliefs in our writing?

Do your characters have passions and beliefs they embrace beyond all pressure against them to crumble?
                In TIES THAT BIND, Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight must stand up to her superiors despite their pressure to close a case even if it means putting the wrong man behind bars.

Every human has an agenda, something ultimately important to them.  Do your characters?  Do your secondary characters also have these?
           In TIES THAT BIND, Major Crimes Detective Terry Grant (Madison’s partner) is more concerned with saving his marriage than solving the case.

Some people in life, sad to say, are there to diminish any joy we may derive in life.  No doubt you’ve run across a few in your life.  You know the type – you’re ecstatic about an accomplishment. Their response, “oh, good for you.”  Then they carry on from another branch of the conversation.  Do your characters have someone who does this to them?
        In ELEVEN, new FBI Agent Brandon Fisher searches for praise from his boss, a name, but it doesn’t come as he expects it to.  It creates some underlying friction.

Are family relationships strained or conflicted because your character chooses a different path than some feel they should?  Perhaps religion comes to mind, but it can be anything. 
In my MADISON KNIGHT SERIES*, Major Crimes Detective Madison Knight has a mother who would have preferred she became a wife and mother, not a cop.  Yet Madison is married to her career.

If we can incorporate these attributes in our writing, we strengthen our characters.  We make them rich and believable, we aspire to make them human.  Also, keep in mind if assigning these passions and beliefs in our characters we must ask, how dear are these to them?  Is it something they would give up under pressure, or is it something that would make them clinch a tighter hold on?

Keep in mind, too, that our antagonists also need strong passions and motivations.  Without them possessing this to the same exceeding level as your protagonists, the plot risks becoming lop-sided.
A powerful emotion such as love, joy, hatred or anger.  Ardent love.  Our passion can be for another human or for an object or pursuit.
The mental act, condition or habit of placing trust or confidence in another.  Mental acceptance of and conviction in the truth, actuality, or validity of something.
*Two books are currently available in The Madison Knight Series - TIES THAT BIND and JUSTIFIED


  1. Carolyn, this is very well written. Indeed the question is "What about the soul? Do you take time to feed it?"

    My observation is, it seems that for a lot of us, a good part of our lives we are "sleep- walking". During this time we tend to let go of passions and dreams, doing what is expected of us or what we believe is our responsibility. For the most part, (if we are lucky) one day we wake up and ask ourselves where did my passion and enthusiasm go? What is it I am truly passionate about? In other words, our soul says "What about me?"

    The thing is our passions and beliefs do change along the way and this is a good thing.

    As you are saying, when creating realistic characters (which you are very good at) it is essential to include their passions and beliefs. This allows us to relate and learn from the characters.

  2. it's a nice and well-thought post, Carolyn. Integration of real-life events into fictional characters' daily life is the key to make them stand out and act like human. Bravo!

  3. I do agree with the bit about imbuing your characters with passion. I think it is linked intrinsically with motivation and when we think about it - it is the motivating thing for all of us and for many of the decisions and choices we make in life. James N Frey talks about characters having 'ruling passions' which create the reasons for the character to exist at all.

  4. Thank you for all the lovely words about the post. Very pleased it was insightful.

    Pat, I agree! And thank you for sharing the thought on "ruling passions" - excellent.


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