We love putting our characters smack-dab in the middle of a fork in the road. When they struggle with deciding between right and wrong, it makes them relatable. There’s something about this type of moral dilemma that compels readers to race from chapter to chapter. We root for our hero to choose the high road or for our heroine to save the day;
we’re yanked down the rabbit hole with them when they get sidetracked. The gray area our characters wade in before choosing the right path is frustrating and familiar all at once, but they have to choose a path, or there is no story.
My latest work-in-progress has my main character’s moral compass spinning. Evelyn thinks like the mortal she’s been for 20 years, but now she’s faced with the expectations of heavenly Cupid elders. #AdultingIsHard Being a Cupid feels even more difficult to Evelyn. I couldn’t agree more. Who wants to be perfect? I’ve wrestled with making the right decision a bazillion times in my 30-something years on earth. Why doesn’t it get any easier?
Today, we live in a world where gray is the cool color. Heck, I just bought a gray couch because it’ll go with everything! Maybe the reason gray is so appealing is because of its numbing effect. It fits in with everything the way we want to fit in with everyone. The problem is, I’m not fascinated with or drawn to the people that blend in. I don’t want to be another fill in the blank.
The choices I make when faced with 2 or 3 or 20 options are what build character in me. Not making a choice feels easier (at first), and more accepted. My question to you is how long can you wade in the gray before you get tired and drown in it?
You may think I’m overthinking. Or, maybe I’m losing it altogether, but when creating this race of supernatural Cupids, I had to decide if they’d retain any of their humanity, specifically their flaws. That’s when I came across a startling realization. Mistakes will always happen. After all, #AdultingIsHard. I’m not a heavenly warrior fighting for love, I’m a human fighting for it. And I’ve realized that wading isn’t fighting for anything except myself.
The world we live in doesn’t believe in the importance of defining resolute rights and wrongs. Instead, it basks in the lukewarm, gray, in-between. Most people mistake that numb, inoffensive indecision for the creamy center of a cookie sandwich. But listen, I know for a fact that if my characters never picked a side or fought for something, you’d toss the book in the trash. There wouldn’t be any reason to finish reading it because my characters would never grow, and instead they’d finish where they started–and not in the full-circle good kind of way.
Like the characters I’ve followed through loooooong series and the people I admire, I want to continually build my character. I know growing includes making decisions, and sometimes they may not be the right ones. But when all those decisions are mapped out, I want them to reflect a loving life filled with adventure. I have a prize I’m racing towards, and wading in gray all my life would make a lousy treasure map!