Character(s):

When Stuart Scott spoke at the ESPY’s in 2014, he was less than six months away from taking his last breath, and when he stood on the stage, holding the Jimmy V trophy safely in both hands, he didn’t talk about his accomplishments, which are many, he talked about his friends, family, and coworkers.  He talked about his daughters.  And he talked about character, what it meant to endure pain, the purpose and beauty of loyalty, of sharing each other burdens, and of crying with his sister.  With the end so near, an end that would rob him of watching his daughters graduate, get married, or have kids, he didn’t recount his storybook and honorary career.  He talked about life and death, and the millions of daily decisions in between.  “When you die,” he said, strong and articulate, “that does not mean that you lose to cancer.  You beat cancer by how you live, why you live, and the manner in which you live.”

Our culture, according to David Brooks, is more consumed with accomplishments, accolades, and self than it is about the manner in which we live because we live in a culture “that encourages us to think about how to have a great career but leaves many of us inarticulate about how to cultivate the inner life.”  An inner life cultivated by empathy, sacrifice, and humility. 

Bookshelves and bedside tables are full of how-to books on building blogs, creating dynamic portfolios, and how to sell and promote ourselves.  They start with the what of life; stories start with the why.  They teach us how to be brave, how to love, and how to hope; they teach us how to how to build character, and how to beat cancer, .

Below are the various character types typically used in stories, an overview of their traditional roles, and thoughts on how evaluating these characters can aid in cultivating an inner life.  


THE HERO:

- According to Joseph Campbell - 

From Odyssey, to Lord of the Rings, to Star Wars, we are drawn to stories about heroes, and Joseph Campbell, after years of research and travel, identified the common and universal characteristic of the Hero and the Hero's Journey, regardless of their origin or time of creation.  His concept of the onomyth (one myth) refers to the theory that all mythic narratives are variations of a single great story.  For an overview of his timeless work The Hero With a Thousand Faces, click here. 

 

- Traditional Role - 

The word hero comes from the Greek ἥρως (hērōs), "hero, warrior," and in the early days of the world was embodied by such men as Hercules, Achilles, Hector, and Odysseus.  These men performed amazing feats of bravery, overpowered evil . . . Read More 

 

- Key (Missing) Attributes of a Hero -

Joseph Campbell wrote the outline of the hero's journey, and it's almost spotless, but for one specific moment that every hero must embrace to in fact become the hero that can save his home, his country, and at times, the world . . . Read More


THE VILLAIN:

The line separating good and evil passes not through states, nor between classes, nor between political parties either - but right through every human heart.
- Aleksandr Solzhenitsy-

- More Alike Than I'd Like - 

Stories are filled with characters that embody this inward struggle, where the heroes are flawed, the villains redemptive, and the line that separates the two as thin as white lies. Read more . . .


In General:

- Ditch These Five Character Archetypes - 

Archetypes tell us what role a character plays in a story. Many of these roles are critical for storytelling, but some are just the opposite. Troublesome roles allow storytellers to cut corners, reducing the overall quality of the tale. Take these five archetypes: Read More

 

- Hungry Monsters : Killing Cats -

Curiosity didn't kill the cat, worry did.  Now, It's feeding on our families, neighborhoods, and nation.

Read More