Ages ago when I began this blog (March, actually, but it feels like ages ago), my first entry was about creating a believable “reluctant hero”. In it, I discussed how Terin, the main character in ARCH ENEMIES, never becomes a superhero, but saves the day “with intelligence, honesty, and bravery.” I then promised to discuss honesty in a future blog, and then never did.
Which made it seem like I was lying. Time to clarify and rectify.
I value honesty as the highest virtue. No! Wait! Decisiveness. Definitely decisiveness is the highest. Or maybe punctuality. No, decisiveness. Or charity.
All kidding aside, I define “honesty” very broadly to include having high ethical standards, honoring your word, and being trustworthy. This is not an easy standard to meet but it is always a worthy goal.
This is a lesson that young Terin in ARCH ENEMIES learns through his adventures. No, it’s not the Pinocchio story, nor is it a heavy-handed morality play. But (as I stated in another blog post), character development is very important to me. A story in which the hero is unchanged by his journey is unsatisfying.
In ARCH ENEMIES, the final chapter isn’t the one where the goal is achieved and Terin is proclaimed a hero due to his bravery during battle. It’s the next one — where he feels guilt over his deceptions and faces a challenge just as daunting: admitting the truth to everyone even when it could hurt his own interests. That’s the kind of conflict I love.
I’ve never had to face something as serious as what Terin faces, and I hope I could do the same. The closest I’ve experienced is having some of my clients decide to fire me as their lawyer because I refused to let them lie or present false testimony. The damage there is only a loss of income.
Being brave and true sometimes requires much more.