Inside the Loving Character

Did Melanie in the movie, Gone with the Wind, make you cry or maybe feel a little insightful? Did you understand her?

As a writer, you want to make a difference in the world. The bigger the better.

To do that, it might stand to reason that creating a character capable of unconditional love would be useful, perhaps almost essential.

To create her, you first need to believe that such people exist. To believe it, you need to feel unconditional love for someone.

Unconditional love is no problem for you, of course.

But some writers are prone to depression and the jaded views that depression imposes. What, me?

Jaded and/or depressed writers can taste unconditional love emanating from their souls and flowing in the vague general direction of another person by simply trying something called “loving kindness meditation.”

It’s the quickest, easiest way to broaden your understanding of Melanie and hopefully the  “too-good-to-be-true” character you’d like to make 3D and believable in your own page-turner.

There’s a little scientific evidence that loving kindness meditation can increase the flow of electrochemical info from your brain to the various organs via the vagus nerve. This increased “vagal tone,” as they call it, is associated with happiness and can be deliberately manipulated to some degree in a number of ways, including loving kindness meditation. So you might want to google the subject for the sake of your own emotional issues, if not for your characters.

There is a good instructional video on loving kindness meditation right here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM .

For me, it was a little icky. Perfect word.

Being a brutish man with chiseled features and a cavalier disregard for things emotional, I found it useful to focus my “loving attention” on a toddler for this exercise. You know, a cuddly little innocent person, rather than some adult who warrants more emotional distance due to the inherent ickiness factor of grown-ups?

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No?

But honestly, just the term, “loving kindness meditation,” is a little off-putting to me.

Nevertheless, I pushed ahead and found the experience refreshing. I can imagine that it might be life-changing for a person who went at it the way some folks pursue yoga.

By the way, I wouldn’t admit this to anyone but you, but my wife has dragged me off to yoga classes. And dagnabbit to hell if I don’t like yoga now. Freakin’ YOGA! It’s almost euphoric when it’s not killing me.

Sheezee, what’s going to become of my uncompromisingly macho image here?

Anyway, please check out “loving kindness meditation,” even if it sounds too touchy-feely for a normal person like you. Do it for the character you might create later today.

Contrast is power in art, music, and potato chips. Nothing raises the ceiling on kindness like a character who can show unconditional love for a difficult person. Her very presence in your story will make other characters more differentiated, unique and defined.

Come on now, work with me. Watch this video and see if there’s any way you could possibly do this weirdly great-feeling thing:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sz7cpV7ERsM .

M. Talmage Moorehead

My current in-progress version of Johanna’s novel is written by a girl from a parallel universe. If you’re interested in intelligent design, weird artifacts, genetics and psychology from the perspective of a nineteen-year-old “Hapa Girl,” it may be a fun read. The protagonist is a genius geneticist with a younger brother who struggles with depression, though you wouldn’t know it to meet him. Her evolving story starts here.

It’s an experiment called, Hapa Girl DNA, and is a hybrid itself – a tightrope crossing of fiction and non-fiction. “Hapa” is the Hawaiian term for “half.” Johanna is half Japanese and half Jewish. In writing her novel, she and I ignore some important fiction-writing rules, partly because we like to test dogmas, and partly because it’s fun to try new things.

But the “rules” are essential knowledge to anyone crazy enough to either break them or follow them mindlessly.

So you could download my e-book on fiction writing, the second to last chapter of which gives my current opinions on many of the dogmatic rules of fiction writing. Downloading that 10,000 word file will place you on my short list of people who will be politely notified when my traditional novel is done – possibly before the next ice age. (No spam or sharing of your info. I haven’t sent an email to my list yet. It’s been over a year.)

Next time you’re writing emails, if you think of it, please tell your best and hopefully weirdest friend about my blog (www.storiform.com). Thanks. I appreciate your thoughtfulness.

Talmage