Tuesday, February 21, 2012

My Favourite Characters #10: George Bailey

#10 in the My Favourite Characters series: George Bailey from It's a Wonderful Life
Storyline of Character: 
George Bailey lives in a small town in America of the late 30's and early 40's.  All his life he's wanted to travel the world, but when his father, (a businessman who has committed his life to a business helping the down-and-out people of town) dies, George chooses to stay and take over.  Over the years, his plans to leave the business behind and move on are continually pushed aside.  The business eventually goes bankrupt over a scheme by Potter, a wealthy miser.  George believes he has failed and tries to drown himself. A clumsy angel named Clarence is sent to help him. George tells the angel that he wishes that he had never been born.
Clarence grants George's wish. Then he takes him through town, showing him what the world would be like without him in it.  
The town without George is under the thumb of Potter. The brother whose life George saved as a child is dead.  George's wife is an old maid. His friends are living in poverty.
George is completely broken over this image and tells Clarence that "I want to live again."  After granting the wish, Clarence vanishes.  The people of the town give of their own money to help the business out of debt and George realizes the value in his simply faithful life.

Strong points of character:
George is faithful under stress.  He doesn't give up when it'd be easy too, and he is an advocate for the poor and those who have suffered injustice.  He's self sacrificing- at one point he gives up his chance at college to his younger brother- and yet he doesn't beat his own goodness over everyones' heads.

Weak points of character:
He doesn't see his own worth.  He tries to commit suicide because he doesn't believe his life has meant anything- something that anyone who knows him would contradict.  

What makes me Love this character (and his story):
Two aspects of George Bailey appeal to me.  
1. His aspirations. He dreams big.  He wants to explore the world- something I've felt beating in my own heart- and he's so excited about his dreams.  His passion for adventure and life is, quite simply, awesome.
2. His choices. Despite those great dreams, despite everything he WANTS to do, he has the moral strength to do what NEEDS to be done, even though it costs him years of patient sacrifice.  George does what is right, not what is comfortable.  When the rubber hits the road he doesn't go waltzing out of town, much as he might like to.  He is faithful in small things.  Over the years those things add up into one big story of a man's faithfulness and the things his faithfulness did for those around him.  I love that challenge.  Because most of us aren't going to do something to save the world or avert a war or cure cancer.  But every one of us has that potential to make a difference.   What would the world be like without you? That's a question I'm forced to ask every time I watch this movie.  How would the world be different if I wasn't in it?  

Quotes from this character:
George: Well, then, why am I seeing all these strange things?
Clarence: Don't you understand, George? It's because you were not born.
George: Then if I wasn't born, who am I?
Clarence: You're nobody. You have no identity.
George: What do you mean, no identity? My name's George Bailey.
Clarence: There is no George Bailey. You have no papers, no cards, no driver's license, no 4-F card, no insurance policy...They're not there, either.
George: What?
Clarence: Zuzu's petals. You've been given a great gift, George. A chance to see what the world would be like without you.

Sunday, February 19, 2012

My Favourite Characters (series introduction)

"If you will practice being fictional for a while, you will understand that fictional characters are sometimes more real than people with bodies and heartbeats." -Richard Bach

 Good characters make good stories.  Great characters make great stories, stories that reach into our emotions, tickle our funny bone, and make us think and sometimes cry. Great characters are real.  Great characters are people we never forget.

I'm excited to be working on a blog series on some of my favourite characters.  Starting tomorrow, I'll be posting a character a week, counting down 10 of my most favourite fictional people (both from books and the silver screen).  These characters have affected me.  They're very real.  And I've learned much from them.

Here's a few quotes about characters to end off:

"A writer should create living people; people, not characters.  A character is a caricature." -Ernest Hemingway

"It begins with a character, usually, and once he stands up on his feet and begins to move, all I can do is trot along behind him with a paper and pencil trying to keep up long enough to put down what he says and does." -William Faulkner

 "All characters are based on elements of a writer's personal experience." Robert Holdstock

"The test of any good fiction is that you should care something for the characters; the good to succeed, the bad to fail." -Mark Twain

"Writing fiction is a solitary occupation but not really a lonely one. The writer's head is mobbed with characters, images and language." -Hilma Wolitzer

"The best way to send information is to wrap it up in a person."  -Robert Oppenheimer

Saturday, February 18, 2012

Fanfiction can make a writer.

(My favourite novel character who I've written a lot of fanfiction about: Edmund Pevensie from The Chronicles of Narnia)
I am a big fan of fanfiction (ouch, bad pun).  Much as it can be a distraction to writers from actually creating their own original characters and plots, I know from experience that it provides both great practice in writing and can be a launching pad into the wider world of writing.

When I first started writing, it was because I loved a world called Narnia.  

I wasn't a writer previous to this. I told my mother several years before that I didn't think I would ever like writing. She disagreed, and as mothers are, she turned out to be more than just right.  Several years later, I discovered the world in the wardrobe and the four English children tossed into Narnia. Now I had something to write about.  There were so many ideas- so many 'could have' stories dealing with the Pevensie children and Aslan and I threw myself into writing some of them.

I wrote dozens of Narnia based stories over the course of a year or two.  And over that time, I grew to love writing for more than just Narnia.  Now I was creating my own characters and stories.   I had learned to love writing because I loved stories and characters.   It had moved even deeper than a love for Narnia and now was a love for my own characters and stories. 

Fanfiction was a launching pad for me into the love for writing that I have now.  The wonderful thing I've noticed about fanfiction is that it takes characters (and stories) that people love and gives them a chance to explore those characters more fully.  People who never thought they'd like writing realize that they can journey with those characters.    There are few things more fun than taking an adventure with your favourite character.  So people write fanfiction.  

They fall in love with writing.

And through that, new writers are born.

Friday, February 17, 2012

A writing prayer.

I write FOR YOU.
That is what truly matters in my writing.  More than anything anyone else thinks. More than the satisfaction or accolades I get from writing.
Whatever good comes from my writing comes FROM YOU.
How easy I forget it, too.
I get wrapped up in plots and ideas and my own agenda.  
I write what I feel like writing, not bothering to consult you.  I don't ask for help or wisdom. I rest in my own strength.
But this gift is FROM YOU. Writing is one of the greatest gifts you have given to me. The joy I get from it isn't something I can measure.  But all gifts point back to You, the great Giver.
When I write, help me. Guide my pen. Use my words to bring You glory. 
I write because of You. 
I write FOR YOU.

I can't do it on my own.


(Note: The Eternity part 2 post is coming. But this post is something I'm being reminded of right now as I'm working on some writing projects.)

Friday, February 3, 2012

What is Eternity, really? {Part One}

Eternity is?

peace  happiness  no war  a great big party
  fun  joy  no death  good things  ice cream
   friends  new bodies  no disasters  fountain of youth
  a feast  summer  good food  beauty

How would you define eternity?

Maybe you have felt the call of eternity on your life.  Maybe you've experienced that deep hunger for something more than what this world sells in shiny, glittery, empty packages. Maybe you've felt in your own life how God can take a sinner and give their heart a passionate beat for Eternity.

But what is eternity, really?

So many people define eternity by how they want it to be.  I've been guilty of that myself-- wanting the good things about eternity but not really caring about whether God will be there.  There was a man who once said "Some people want to go to heaven, but they don't want God to be there." Doesn't that often describe us?  There are some legit things that God promises will be in heaven, and they are good things.  I'm not saying that we can't desire the good things that God promises about Eternity.  But I've been convicted that the sum of Eternity is so much more BIG in scope than that.  And I don't want to miss out on it.

Is eternity really just about me getting fulfilled and being happy and doing what I want to do?

Eternity means something radically different than that.  This past weekend I was at a conference and heard a speaker talk about Eternity.  One verse he read really stuck out to me.  This is Jesus, talking right before he was betrayed and killed.   He prayed to His Father and this is part of His prayer:
"Father, the hour has come; glorify your Son that the Son may glorify you, since you have given him authority over all flesh, to give eternal life to all whom you have given him. And this is eternal life, that they know you the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom you have sent." ~John 17
Wait, eternal life isn't just a perfect place where we'll get to do fun things and be happy forever?

Eternity is about knowing Jesus and giving Him glory?

Part two coming soon!