Monday, October 1, 2012

Character + Depth Series: Values

So, so, SO sorry for posting the second part in this series later than promised! *slaps wrist* Life, man. It gets in the way sometimes.

ANYWAY. I've already discussed attitudes in part one. Today, let's talk about the second item on the psychographics list:


Here's what the Free Dictionary has to say about the word 'value':

A principle, standard, or quality considered worthwhile or desirable: "The speech was a summons back to the patrician values of restraint and responsibility" (Jonathan Alter).

Similar to attitudes, values deal with your character's past heavily. The present is important, of course, but the road that's led your character toward his/her present matters a whole bunch. I believe values are passed down to your character from the following sources:

  1. Family
  2. Friends
  3. The outside world

What does your character learn from each of them? What are they exposed to on a daily basis? Violence? Love? Fear? Bliss? It's these circumstances that will teach them whether to be hopeful or disdainful, kind or apathetic. But just because your character's faced with a life of torment doesn't mean they'll choose to be tormented--some people rise above their ugly circumstances and seek prettier ones. Same goes for the opposite. Your character might have sunshine and daises for breakfast every day, but with one small flip of the switch, everything is blown to smithereens. Their family might hold on to hope and love, but your character's all about revenge or selfishness.

Similar to the attitudes list, you have to pay close attention to how and why your character processes information a certain way. Here, however, your focus will be on deepening both the how and why through the what if. What if my character hadn't lived this particular life? Would they still be remorseful/forgiving? And more importantly, how does this answer affect your novel? Do your character's values play a significant role in their choices (they totally should!)? 

So there you have it, folks. Values. Your fake people need them. :)

Make sure you stay tuned for next week's installment, which I promise I won't forget to post!!

Now tell me: how do you come up with your character's values? Are they something you enjoy brainstorming or not? 


  1. I think values also come from personal preference/affinity and the interaction between the person and each of the sources you cite. What I mean is that the same values might be communicated to two different people, and those two individuals will internalize, shape, interpret, and prioritize those values differently. Great series--I love thinking about this stuff!

    1. YES. Everything you said = so, so true. I might not have the same values as someone with a similar personality/lifestyle. And thanks so much for your kind words! *hugs tight*

  2. I find it takes me many drafts to really discover a character's values. How about you?

    1. Oh, totally. With my current WIP, it's been easy to find my main character's values, but some of the secondary characters are keeping them close to the chest! But I have faith I'll eventually figure them out :)

  3. Sometimes I have to write and write and write until I figure out what my characters values are. If only it were easier. ;)