Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Freedom, What Does Your Character Have? - Nov. 10, '09

In a broad stroke the word brings up patriotism, lack of responsibility, and such, but let's get down to a personal basis.

Freedom is one of those broad foggy ideas, but so much depends on the individual's upbringing, the environs, the society, culture, beliefs, fears, outside influences, triumphs and disasters.

A medieval serf follows the lord of the manor who is under the thumbs of the Church and the King, the latter two fight for who's greater ala Henry VIII. A king may marry a peasant girl, and raise her to the throne, but the other way was not so common until Elizabeth II.

If a character is free to follow her conscience, that depends again on what seeds were planted there--by family, by friends, and those from whom she learned. If the first love turns out to be a cheating bastard, that can be a motive for acting the same way. If parents overindulge in food, alcohol, recreation drugs, or any other excess, that implies acceptance (though by a limited few those few are immediate and have a huge influence).

Freedom to follow one's heart: will you love someone whom is accepted by your family, by your culture, by your species? An old saying: 'a bird may love a fish, but where will they live?' comes to mind.

What freedom is important to one may be insignificant to another: Joan is free to eat shellfish, but her immune system thinks otherwise and reacts with an allergic over-the-top response that results in hives the size of goose eggs, swelling of the throat and lungs and a very good chance of anaphylactic shock.

Danni is free to travel anywhere but she prefers to stay in her old cottage by the lake that her grandma owned. Danni spent every summer since the age of 4 there until three years ago when her grandma passed. Danni makes a healthy 5-figure income but doesn't feel the need to spend it on a place that is not loved as this is.

Freedom of speech also asks, behind the scenes, for a curb on the tongue, that no one yells 'Fire' in a crowded place,(without cause) or jokes about a hijack or other broad endangerment in an airport or train station.

Then there's the innermost feeling of freedom, of release: When Kari's dad passed, she felt a freedom that she hadn't had in decades. She didn't have to live up to his expectations, she could do what she loved to do--and that wasn't being a surgeon like him, or a lawyer like his dad. She wanted to open a shelter for greyhounds whose days after the tracks were short and severe. Once the bettors and trainers had gotten their money, and the dogs were left with less speed, there was no profit. Kari didn't give a damn about money, she cared about the beauty, the grace, and the need these throwaway's had. There was more joy in having these dogs come up to her and love her for caring, than in all the awards and social recognition racked up by the paternal line.

So...what freedom does your character need?

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