What defines you? It’s a pretty loaded question. For some, it’s money or fame. Others, it’s the promotion they got at work or the story they just published. But, do these things define us?
Let’s look at the flip side of the coin. Do our failures define us? If we cheat, are we cheaters? If we lie, are we liars? If we lose our jobs, are we failures? I think it’s easier to say that these things don’t define us, they are simply events that shape our character.
The same is true of our accomplishments. They don’t define who we are, they are just stepping stones toward goals in our lives; things that move us one step closer to what we have deemed to be personal success.
When writing, we have to remember that it is human nature to have both accomplishments and failures. Having characters who think their accomplishments and failures actually define who they are is a fantastic way to make them more believable and to build them up. If they realize that those things they accomplish during the story don’t define them, they will have a greater sense of who they are. Likewise, if the mistakes they make over the pages of your book define your characters, in their own minds, then when they discover they are not defined by their failures, we will love them all the more as readers.