Personal Philosophy

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wickipedia defines philosophy as the study of general and fundamental problems, such as those connected with existence, knowledge, values, reason, mind, and language.  Taken to a personal level, it means the way we look at life and the beliefs we hold as it relates to our own life and our relationship with others.

My characters’ personal philosophy drives their story. It is what determines what actions they take when faced with challenges.  A wife may find she’s been cheated on and though devastated, she decides not to take out her anger on her husband based on her thinking that what goes around comes around. Another woman in the same circumstances may choose to focus on the fact that she’s always been hurt and won’t suffer any more foolishness from those who cause her pain. If the opportunity comes along, she will inflict that same pain because what’s good for the goose is also good for the gander. 

Some characters may go against their beliefs because they are forced to, or perhaps they do so in the heat of anger. Whatever the situation, each players’ personal philosophy makes for an interesting recipe which will eventually determine the outcome of the story.

Can you state your main character’s personal philosophy in a sentence? Do you know what he will fight for, give in to, or perhaps die for?
For a chance to win The Story Book by David Baboulene and an impressive group of collaborators, please click here to read his article on Character and Plot. Make sure to add yourself as a follower if you aren’t, and then leave a comment on that post. The drawing is this weekend. Thanks!
In the food department, we have lots of items that start with P, including Papaya, Pear (Avocado), Pork and Pomegranate, but today the Jamaican Patty takes the spotlight. It’s a complete meal in itself, comprising of minced beef that’s wrapped up in flaky pastry. Patty is a lunchtime favourite and in my opinion, the best patty is made by the original makers, Tastee. They now come in a variety - beef with cheese, chicken, lobster, soy, and the list goes on. Two of these babies (if you can manage that many) and something to drink will keep you going for hours.


  1. Digging into a character's personal philosophies (and making them act based on those philosophies) is what makes them 3-dimensional.

    Interesting post!

  2. Mmm, the Jamaican Patty sounds and looks delicious.

    Now I'm going to and see if I can state all my characters' personal philosophies in one sentence!

  3. Thanks, Liz! True that.

    Laura, cool!

  4. What a good idea. My character's philosophy would be, "Be loyal to the people who are closest to you." But she's struggling with idea of truth and forgiveness.

    I love Jamaican beef patties, but I haven't had one in a long time. Thanks for the reminder!

  5. Hi, Theresa. Ah! I think forgiveness is something a lot of my own characters struggle with.

    Don't forget to have yourself a patty!

  6. I love this idea of personal philosophy. It is so important to understand the philosophy that drives our characters.

  7. Personal philosophy in a sentence: that would take knowing the character very, very well--essential to a good story. Thanks for sharing this tip, it would be invaluable in characterisation.

  8. I love your blog design! Stopping by to say "Hello" from the A-Z Challenge

  9. Josh, I'm thinking so too.

    Damyanti, I think it's essential to knowing my characters.

    Kmckendry, thanks for stopping in. I confess, I'm a wallpaper nut.

  10. When I'm writing, I'll often stop and ask myself, "What would Tabby do here?" or "How would Murphy respond to this?" And it had better not be the same for every character! :)

  11. Agreed, Susan. Like us, our characters have to be diverse and true to themselves as much as possible.

  12. I heartily agree. My entire WIP started from a quest to learn more about Ancient Egyptian philosophy, so my future readers will probably be inundated with it. :) I think my MC's personal philosophy (which differs sharply from the philosophy of his culture) would be something like "The pursuit of knowledge is the greatest good." Though that's only at the beginning of his story. He'll change radically by the end.

  13. Sarah, it does make for interesting reading when a character's philosophy shifts radically.


Don't be shy, I'd love to hear what you think.