Challenging Moral Beliefs – the essence of part one in “The Fortune Seekers”

I say “thank you” to  Angela Ackerman for writing this blogg. It explains exactly what I am writing about in the fictional experiences in my soon to be published novel.

Expected release late July – early August

Angela’s Blogg  begins – Level Up Your Setting By Thinking Outside The Box →
Deepen The Protagonist to Readers By Challenging His or Her Moral Beliefs

Posted on May 28, 2016 by Angela Ackerman

When we sit down to brainstorm a character, we think about possible qualities, flaws, quirks, habits, likes and dislikes that they might have. Then to dig deeper, we assemble their backstory, plotting out who influenced them, what experiences shaped them (both good and bad) and which emotional wounds pulse beneath the surface. All of these things help us gain a clearer sense of who our characters are, what motivates them, and ultimately, how they will behave in the story.

soul. But in challenging  our characters’ moral beliefs how often do we think about our protagonist’s morality? It’s easy to just make the assumption that he or she is “good” and leave it at that.

And, for the most part, the protagonist is good–that’s why he or she is the star of the show. The protagonist’s moral code dictates which positive traits are the most prominent (attributes like loyalty, kindness, tolerance, being honorable or honest, to name a few) and how these will in turn influence every action and decision.

In real life, most people want to believe they know right from wrong, and that when push comes to shove, they’ll make the correct (moral) choice. People are generally good, and unless you’re a sociopath, no one wants to go through life hurting people. Sometimes it can’t be avoided, but most try to add, not take away, from their interactions and relationships.

To feel fully fleshed, our characters should mimic real life, meaning they too have strong beliefs, and like us, think their moral code is unshakable. But while it might seem it, morality is not black and white. It exists in the mists of grey.

The Movie – The Prisoners

In the movie Prisoners, Hugh Jackman’s plays Keller, a law-abiding, respectful man and loving father. But when his daughter is abducted and police are ineffective at questioning the person he believes to be responsible, he is forced into a moral struggle.

Keller needs answers, but to obtain them, he must be willing to do things he never believed himself capable of. Finally, to gain his daughter’s freedom, he kidnaps the suspect and tortures him repeatedly.

In each session, Keller battles with his own humanity, but his belief that this man knows where his daughter is outweighs his disgust for what he must do. It is not only Keller’s actions that makes the movie compelling, it is the constant moral war within the grey that glues us to the screen.

Extreme circumstances can cause morals to shift. 

What would it take for your “moral” protagonist to make an immoral choice?

Is your character deeply honest? What might push her to lie about something important?

Is your character honorable? What would force him to act dishonorably?

Is your character kind? How could life break her so that she does something maliciously hurtful?

When your protagonist is forced to enter a grey area that causes them to question what is right and wrong…this is where compelling conflict blooms!


Have you built in situations that force the hero to evaluate his morality? If not, what can you do within the scope of your story to push him into the grey where he must wrestle with his beliefs? What event might send him to the edge of himself, of who he is, and possibly force him to step across the line dividing right and wrong?

Tools to help you understand your character better:

The Reverse Backstory Tool: Hit all the highlights on your hero’s backstory reel, including his Emotional Wound & The Lie He Believes About Himself

The Character Target Tool: Set the path of your hero’s positive traits, spiraling out from Moral based attributes

The Character Pyramid Tool: Plot your character’s flaws that stem from a Wounding Event &visualize how these flaws present as behaviors & thoughts
Originally posted at IWSG


10 Reasons Why Your Hero Needs Flaws

In “Character Flaws”

Will Readers Find Your Protagonist Worthy?

In “Character Traits”

Personality Traits: Building a Balanced Character

In “Balance”

Freedom to be yourself

Who would you be if the influences of society weren’t directing your attitudes and behaviours?

Perhaps you are responding, “That’s not true for me. I’m who I am because I do exactly what I want to do.”

But is that really true?

Many outside influences have influenced our society over the generations

The Crown? Queen? King? Government ? Religion? Lack of knowledge? Illnesses and Plagues? Wars?


How about Charles Darwin? Did his theories affect your beliefs and choices ?

If not you, how about your grandparents?  As in the 1800s he began theorising about life. Proposing ideas previously unheard of. Beginning to guess about genetics.



Let me introduce you to this young man and woman.

Meet Dan and Charlotte  – the main people we are to spend time with in  the historical novel – “The Fortune Seekers.”

  • How did the laws of England and Wales affect these two people in the 1860s?
  • Did societies influences prevent them becoming free?
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  • What about the beliefs of the church at the time?
  • What did the people believe at the time?
  • What was being taught by John Wesley and John Calvin?

Teachings of biblical interpretations brought whole British populations to faith in the Welsh and English revivals.

  • But was their belief in the interpretation of the bible truth?
  • And did the population experience hope and freedom because of it?
  • As people like Daniel Rowland (below) began to change the beliefs of the Welsh population.




Personal freedom should be found in love and peace of mind.

Therefore, how did the tiny church of Saint Brynach’s (in south west Wales) effect the freedom of young Dan? And the beliefs of the Non Conformists in Essex  – how did they affect Charlotte?


  • What about the theories of Charles Darwin? How can his ideas affect a young English woman such as Charlotte?
  • How did the philosophies taught Dan, erode his emotional freedom  – forming religious conclusions which lead him to despair?
  • And Charlotte? Is it believable that new governmental and church laws could really force her family to make decisions uprooting family and loved ones forever?

So much confusion.

Deep seated anger.

Hopelessness and hatred.

What is the real fortune Dan and Charlotte are seeking? How will they overcome manipulation and tradition?

By now it may be becoming  clear; that freedom isn’t just about financial freedom for any of us.

Instead the fortune we may be seeking may be deeper than physical.

  • Do Dan and Charlotte find their freedom?
  • Is it possible to arrive at that place?
  • The answer is not obvious, but it does make a good story.

Look for The Fortune Seekers on ebooks and at late July/or August.

The answers may surprise you. 


forbidden to be yourself?

Are you forbidden to be yourself? I wonder why we think this is true? Is this the Fortune we seek…freedom to be ourselves?


The Daily Post: Forbidden

“You act as if it is forbidden to be yourself. To think about what you want” he looked at me with a careful, measured gaze.

“Forbidden? I don’t think it is forbidden. How did you get there?” I replied, suprised at his provoking suggestion. We’ve been talking about some decisions I had been grappling with in recent weeks, and the ideas of reality and choice came up.

“Well, you are saying that you have some free time on your hands. And straight away you start getting yourself into choices, need to focus and doing things which you describe as …meaningful.” he said, “It seems that with a little more space and time, you become scared?”

“Scared? Come on, scared of what? I am just saying that I have a few choices, but I need to get back to reality. I don’t always want to be in-between…

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Why I teach my grandkids to play the guitar?

Born within our grandchildren is a little bit of their parents. A certain amount of their four grandparents, and a sprinkling of their great grandparents. This smorgasbord of genes making them who they are.

As their grandmother I watch the antics of these little grand boys. Chuckling at the resemblances emerging over the years.

  • Listening for abilities and gifts, even encouraging the tiny familiar idiosyncrasies I found in myself.
  • Will the grand boys be skilled sportsmen as their father and grandfather and great grandfather were?
  • Will they have a quick wit?
  • Will the gift of music blossom… Oh I hoped so.

Listening one day to my youngest grand boy singing his little heart out, I was encouraged.

Has the gene from my dad been inherited?

When ever I brought out the various musical instruments I had played as a child, my youngest grand boy’s eyes lit up.

  • The gift, the gift! Has he inherited the gift of music?
  • Will he sing like a bellbird, accompanying himself on an instrument?
  • I birth elation.

Me, his grandma dreamed her dreams, unashamedly.
It isn’t long before small guitars and tiny keyboards are in their home.  The old ukulele I was given by my parents when I was six or seven, stripped down, revarnished by my Dad, is introduced to them one day. The grand boys strummed their chord less songs on the four strings.

Also the squeaky school recorders squealed when  grandma arrived another time for  a weekend visit. Their parents run and hide.

A gift of mouth organs were given upon returning from a European cruise. Possibly never to be seen again, to be lost in the box of toys after grandma returns home. I’m not to know the truth.

Yet, when-ever grandma arrives to visit, these instruments appear from under the bed and from the back of the cupboards. The dust is brushed away, and we begin to play.

The sing a longs with Grandma are enthusiastic.

The younger grand son continues singing like a bellbird, and grows another year older. His small fingers begin to reach around the neck of his guitar, as he persists.

  • Believing grandma when she speaks of his gift.
  •  Desiring to be the musician she believes he is becoming.

On grandma’s ipad using a recording app, we recorded his songs. Creating a four track recording with his unique hip hop song, creating an offbeat rhythm on the keyboard, and accompanying himself on a guitar he can’t yet play. But it rocked!

A few days ago Grandma arrives with another guitar – there’s now a guitar for both grandsons. Needed as the older grandson is learning chords at school – so he has told me.

Now with two chords of grandma’s under their belts, (D and A), and guitars not in perfect tune, we record lesson one on video.

These boys –  My child prodigies, – with musical genes birthing and growing as they have turned ten and twelve. They strum along. Changing chords when I tell them to. Keeping the rhythms to a song in their heads. Priceless!

  • As their Grandma, I’m ecstatic.
  • Proud.
  • Enthused  – highly motivated to buy them a tuner to fine tune their strings. And replacement guitar strings for the inevitable break.


They are unlikely to become Elvis, or The Bee Gees. Or who ever is the current Justin Beiber of their generation.

But, if a percentage of music ability stays with them throughout their lives, they will enjoy their leisure hours, strumming and singing with their mates.

Why do I teach my grandchildren to play their guitars?

This is why.

And also to relive my own childhood.

  • Being a family of five who formed a family musical band – the Powell Quintett.
  • Winners of country talent quests.
  • Playing at country halls celebrating New Year’s Eve and family 21sts.

I sat goggle eyed as our parents sang together.

  • Amazed when my Dad sang and yoddled, accompanying himself on any one of our instruments.
  • Singing the ballad of old Peg Leg Jack – eventually Dad struggled to remember the last verses in his latter years.

Yes, this is why I teach my grandchildren the guitar.