G'Me Some of That Sweet Fruit!

"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, self-control."

After thinking about moral premise for a bit, I decided that it has much less to do with the theme of a story, and more to do with the characters. Now I haven't taken the class or read any books on this, just Kern's post, so this is my own interpretation.

Part of moral premise is the virtue that absolutely defines your characters. Now, in reality many people are a little blurry when it comes to their own morality. Not to say we don't feel strongly about certain, and often different, morals but what I'm saying is that few of us are guided by one specific trait.

I think our characters should be though, and this is one of the things that will drive the story.

In my opinion, a main character should have a defining virtue. Does she thirst for justice in everything? Is he gentle to all? The list above is a great tool to pick out a single virtue to absolutely define and drive your character.

So, what virtue defines your main character? Have you ever met someone who seemed to be the epitome of patience? Do you know someone who always seems to have a kind word? How can we use a single virtue to create a rounded character and influence every aspect of the MC's life?


Unknown said…
This is a great post. I'm sitting here trying to think of one virtue that sticks out with each of my characters and having a very rough time. I think this may be something I need to go in and fix.

Thanks for the idea :)
This is great, Jessica! I'll have to think about my MC and discover what hers is. And if she doesn't have one, I'll help her find it. :)
What a great way to look at this! If we can do this, then our characters are much less likely to go off track and have our readers going: No way. He/she would never do that!

I've always looked at the moral premise as a universal truth, but perhaps I need to narrow it down now.
anita said…
Hey Jessie! This is one of the best posts you've ever done I think! And that's saying a lot since they're all so good. Heh.

I was applying what you say to my MCs in my WIP, and where I know my hero's virtue is gentleness/kindness, I'm trying to think of my heroine's. I think hers is loyalty (very loyal to her nieces and brother) but that's not listed above as a virtue, although I consider it one.

This is such a great way to rein in those characters and make sure they have redeeming qualities so the reader can sympathize with them!

Thanks for the inisights!
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi MaryBeth,
Wish I could say I thought this up myself, but I'm going to take Natasha Kern's Vice and Virtue class, so I've been daydreaming about what it might mean.
So far this is what I think, but after I take the class I'll let you all know what I learned.

Thanks for commenting. :-)
One of my MC, Ben = loyal.
~ Wendy
Jessica Nelson said…
Have fun Janna!

Hi Eileen, I do think it's more than just the universal truth to our stories. You're right, I really do think this helps to solidify a character in the reader's mind.

Hey Anita! Thanks for the compliments. You might be biased though. Double Heh. :-)
I think you nailed it on your characters. The above is a quote from the bible. I'd agree that loyalty is a huge virtue. Isn't it the same as faithfulness? :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Cool, Wendy! :-) I love that trait. It can make a character do things they don't want to, and it even can be manipulated into misplaced loyalt, which can add to the tension of the story. :-)
Terri Tiffany said…
You got me to thinking. I think what drives my character is her desire to please everyone --that isn't always a good virtue.
Genny said…
Great post, Jessica. I noticed that you finished your novel...good for you! Congrats!
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Terri, no it's not. But maybe with her it's kindness? Thoughtfulness? Esteeming others above herself? That's all biblical and wonderful qualities. :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Thanks Genny! I added to the word count but haven't finished editing.
Keli Gwyn said…
My very first heroine has the gift of encouragement. Since the hero needs that greatly, she's just the woman for him.
Jessica Nelson said…
Sounds wonderful Keli! :-) I like it when the heroes are the wounded kind who find a woman who believes in them.
Jill Kemerer said…
Perfect! My heroes and heroines always have a defining moral quality. The quality is sometimes at odds with their idea of how life should be, but in the end, they embrace it.

Loved this post!
Tana said…
At the moment my MC is driven by her desire to survive High School lol! The cute boy in homeroom is proving to be a rather BIG distraction as well. Gosh I love YA. *sigh*
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL T. Anne.
I remember those days well...

Hey Jill,
Interesting about embracing it. I hadn't even thought about the characters accepting this part of themselves, or it contrasting with their worldview. Interesting!
I always learn from your posts, Jessie.

Well... since my main character is me, I'd say I am driven by impatience, nuttiness and a quest for the finest coffee and chocolate I can get my grubby little paws on! But those aren't fruits of the Sprit, are they?

I have to choose joy as my #1 trait. I love to smile and laugh and try to make others laugh. It's a challenge to meet a sourpants and get them to grin.
Jessica Nelson said…
Joy is a great one! I like making grumpy people smile too, though I bet you're funnier than me! LOL
Don't worry, we're going to get into vices. Snort!
Cindy R. Wilson said…
Good question, Jessica! I just started my WIP and have two main characters. It's hard for me at this point to pick out one clear, defining virtue for both. I know relationships (mostly family) are big for one but I'm still working on the other.
Jessica Nelson said…
Maybe whatever will create the most tension? :-) Have fun with it!
Stephanie Faris said…
The character in my current WIP is level-headed and intelligent, where everyone around her seems to be driven by adventure. She spends most of her time trying to hold everything together. The problem is, everyone else keeps getting her in trouble...and she can't seem to risk the lure of adventure herself. She's a teenager, so I'm grappling with the trouble she IS getting into. Seems in teen books there have to be repercussions for actions such as breaking into buildings or sneaking behind your parents' back.
Jody Hedlund said…
Interesting way to think about moral premise. I think it's possible to tie it into a virtue our character has or needs to develop, but it could also be the summary of what they learn as a result of their character growth.
my hero would be embodied by his integrity, i think. he really gives him a huge internal struggle when he thinks about giving up work he's proud to do b/c he needs more money to take care of his mom. great post to get me thinking...
Deb Shucka said…
This is really thought-provoking, and I need to ponder for a bit. As a reader, I look for strengths in characters that I wish I had, or had more of. If a character has one defining virtue, it makes it much easier to study and relate to.
Tabitha Bird said…
Hmmmm... I never thought of looking for one defining virtue. But now I am going to re-read my work and see if I have nailed this one. Me thinks some characters need work :)
Hmmm. Great food for thought!

My MC always seems to be struggling with this issue. My supporting characters appear to have found theirs and in some way teach my MC to find hers.
Katie Ganshert said…
Only one, ay? Hmmmm....

For my current WIP
Heroine: peace
Hero: self-control

I think....
Jessica Nelson said…
It's interesting to think about, right?

Now, don't take my word that there should only be one. :-) I've just been percolating over all of this and thought I'd share my thoughts.

I love reading about your characters too!
Hi Jess -

Not too long ago, I read a book with characters I didn't like at all. It took almost the entire book for any change to occur.

The one character found herself in dire trouble, and it was all I could do to muster up enough interest to hope she escaped.

I don't know if this has more to do with producing likable characters or the moral of a story. Perhaps, it's a little of both.

Susan :)

I didn't review this book because I couldn't recommend it.

glovin said…
This is a great post. I'm sitting here trying to think of one virtue that sticks out with each of my characters and having a very rough time.

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Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Susan,
So the characters didn't have that good quality to make you believe in them? Obviously they had bad enough qualities, or maybe they just were too bland? I'm sorry you didn't like that book. It's always a disappointment to end with no satisfaction.
It was nice of you to not review it. :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Glovin,
Thanks for stopping by! ;-)
I think Virginia Kate is filled with HOpe.....
You know, you're right! I would have to say that my main characters do have defining virtues, but I did not think about that when they were created. It just came through in their actions. Blinding idealism also runs rampant in them at times, unfortunately.
Jessica Nelson said…
Can't wait to meet her, Kathryn! :)
Jessica Nelson said…
LOL Anna! Idealism is blinding, isn't it. :-) I think the preferable thing would be to have this virtue as a seamless part of the character herself. It's a good thing they came through in your character's actions. ;-)
Nancy said…
I hadn't thought about one main virtue for my main character. I'll have to think about that next time.
Angie Ledbetter said…
A defining virtue + a fatal flaw = juicy action and conflict? :)
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Nancy,
It's an interesting thought right? Thanks for popping by. :-)
Jessica Nelson said…
Hi Angie,
Yep, I think that's the formula!
Jessica Nelson said…
This comment has been removed by the author.
Unknown said…
my character loves chocolate. can we sub juicy for sweet? ;) My MC's one goal in life is to have more choc. Well, not really, but it may be MY goal, and I live vicariously through her.
Jessica Nelson said…
Wow, Karen! Your character should be my best friend! LOL Yum, yum, yum. :-)

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