Character Happiness


What makes you happy? I mean it. What makes you happy? I’m not looking for the standard answers you think I want to hear. I’m looking for the answers you keep hidden deep inside. The place where only you know what it is that makes you the happiest.

I’m not interested because I am trying to do some type of life coach thing here. I could care less about such things. Nope. What I am trying to do is make you aware of what really makes you happy. Then to look at what makes others happy as well. Realize we as humans move towards what makes up happy or gives us pleasure and away from what doesn’t.

So why care about this? Well, as a writer what makes my characters happy motivates them. Now I am not talking about the standard feel good happiness inside so many books or their million and one sequels.

Now mind you, I have no trouble with these styles of books. It’s simple that my mind does not work that way. For example. I recently sat down at a restaurant with my wife and noticed a couple close by who appeared in love. My mind takes this as a base to start formulating a story around this event. Which leads me to ask questions.  

Is their love a typical romance where neither are happy unless they are right next to each other? Or do other, deeper, darker, hidden desires make them love one another come into play?

Perhaps their love is not based upon what we consider to be standard love but is based upon the fact that the woman is a dominate personality who finds her greatest pleasure, her greatest happiness, in watching her boyfriend rape, torture, mutilate and kill young girls. His happiness is derived from being submissive to this woman and doing whatever it takes to make her happy even though he personally finds rape and torture sickening.

His happiness is directly related to hers. If she isn’t happy, he will move mountains to make her happy.

Now let’s look at this couple again. This time we notice the man watching the waitress’s bottom as she walks by. The wife ignores the man’s actions but is fully aware her lover desires other women. Yet she stays with him. Is she happy? Is he? Or are they painting a picture of happiness for the world to see but behind closed doors their life is misery.

What makes people happy drives them forward. How many times have we heard how incredibly normal a person’s neighbor’s actions were after it was discovered that person was a serial killer? His or her story becomes an incredible account of what drove them to kill and what part of it made them the happiest. What set them apart from what we consider “normal?”

Think about your characters. Think about the great detective stories. The main detective isn’t particularly happy unless they are waist deep in a mystery. Most times it is murder, but their minds are always considering the details around them to solve a mystery even if one is not there.

Detectives are only happy when they have something to detect. For all the characteristics that Agatha Christie gave her great detective Hercule Poirot, none of them matter unless you realize the man was at his happiest when in the middle of a mystery that only he could solve.  

Happiness, a person’s true version of happiness, is often rooted in sex. Most people fantasize about the type and quantity of sex they desire but rarely act on it. Most believe if they simply had the sex they wanted, with the person they desired, all would be happiness defined.

It’s rarely true. For those who seek out such desires, they are often left feeling, well, unhappy. Fantasies rarely live up to the level of bull we tell ourselves. Which leaves the person depressed which often drives a person more than happiness.

Think about your characters. What makes them happy? Why? Do they move towards their desires or away? Again, I ask – why?

I like flawed characters. I haven’t met a human being who wasn’t flawed. Even those I admire and looked on with total hero worship often fell off that pedestal because I discovered their flaws. Yet, their flaws made them more interesting, not less.

I can’t help but ask my authors to place some flaw in their characters. A flaw that makes them secretly happy. A stay at home mom who is addicted to porn. A cop who participates in cross dressing competitions. A preacher who hangs out at biker bars. A young girl who sings only when she is alone. A young boy who maintains a hardcore bad boy image but loves to knit.

Often those things we seek to make us happy are things we don’t believe we can achieve. Often, once they are achieved (after all the hard work it took to get there), they discover they don’t want it anymore. It simply doesn’t make them happy.

How many people discover in college they want nothing to do with what they are trying to become. Or worse, once they graduate and start working realize they hate what they do but feel trapped because they have bills to pay.

This is when the real dreaming begins. The desire for whatever makes them happy even if that desire is kept deep within their soul.

Look at what makes your characters happy. What drives them forward. Decide if it is happiness or the urge to get away from what makes them unhappy. Then put that into their make up in the story. Give them an edge and for crying out loud, let them be happy over something, even if it just their cat.

I’m Ross, the Editor-in-Chief at The Pyrateheart Press and I’m out.

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