Tuesday, March 13, 2012

Self Control is a Virtue

Self control is a virtue every person should aspire to achieve.

Self control breaks down to choices. We choose how we react to given situations.

However, I think an exception to this is if you hear of a loved one dying. When I received the phone call that my father had unexpectedly died, tears automatically rolled down my cheeks. It was total reaction to something beyond my control.

Another exception, when suddenly scared out of my mind, I scream or freeze. Both reactions just seem to happen.

And yet another exception, when I'm extremely happy a smile comes to my face.

But wait a minute . . . it's only human to react to situations with emotion. But self control is learning how to contain those sudden emotions and master them.

To master self control perhaps we should:

1) Stop
2) think
3) what could happen?
4) and is that what you want?

Hmm, so yeah, when I'm happy I'm going to smile. And when I'm scared, well I'd rather not freeze and scream, I'd rather take stock of the situation and act. But when a loved one dies, it's perfectly all right to cry. I guess I've already decided that.

What about the characters in your story? Do they have self control? It's okay if they don't. They are only characters written by humans who are also struggling with self control and we want our characters to ring true. A writer needs to show characters struggling with their emotions, characters with flaws, and characters learning self-control.

We (writers and characters) are all learning the virtue of self control.

Have you ever written a character who has struggled with self control?



  1. My current mc is a bit of a hothead, so yes, she's struggling with self-control. I hadn't previously thought of it that way, though, so thanks for the new perspective!

  2. It seems like all my characters struggle with self-control from time to time. (I wonder what that says about me! ;)

  3. I like that 4 step graphic!! In my current wip, my mc is struggling with this--and numbers 3 & 4 are prominent in her thought process on why she wants to stay in control.

  4. Kathi,
    I have a character who is always in control. Since I write BOM fiction some of my characters are bigger than life warriors/prophets. There is one scene where my character's son pulls through a near death experience. The character excuses himself from the group, drops to his knees and with tears streaming down his face offers a prayer of gratitude. I have another character, in the same book, who is young and growing up in his faith. His reactions are bigger and louder because he lacks the faith the prophet/warrior carries. I feel like it's a good contrast and a way to SHOW their faith instead of tell it.

  5. Susan,
    In River Whispers and my most recent book, Cold Justice, my protagonist constantly fights her temper and is trying to gain self control. I love writing in her character.

    It says, you're right on track with your writing. :)

    Characters who struggle with self-control are fun to write! I like getting into their heads and working through their thought process as they gain more self control.

  6. Christina,
    Super! And I understand exactly what you mean about writing BOM characters. They are bigger than life. I'm excited to hear more about your book.



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