We have been looking at how I wrote The World That Was series. Today I will take a look at character development as it relates to Adam.
You might wonder what could possibly be difficult about creating the character Adam? After all, he is the primary character, other than God, in the first four chapters of Genesis. What’s so difficult?
It was difficult for the very reason that Adam is so well known. Anybody who has read those first four chapters has formed in their mind an image of what he was like. And the Bible gives insights. My task therefore required me to be very careful to make his personality fit what the Bible describes and hints at.
First, here are some basic facts found in the Bible:
1. Adam was created from earth (clay?) by God
2. Adam was the first human
3. God gave him great intelligence (his offspring invented music, worked with brass (mining & industrial processes), established religion and more
4. God placed him in the Garden of Eden
5. God gave him a wife
6. God fellowshipped with them morning & night (cool of day)
7. Adam sinned
8. Adam was expelled from the Garden
9. Adam believed and worshipped God
10. Adam fathered at least three sons and possible three or more daughters
These are ten basic facts. You can discover more by studying the Bible. It provides a general insight into the man. But I needed more.
So how did I do it?
The first thing was to become familiar with his story as it is related in the Bible. Being something of a Bible student that wasn’t hard. I also needed to be aware of his unique relationship with God plus his life with Eve in and out of the Garden.
That last point provided me the spark my imagination needed. What was the Garden like? I did a lot of research on gardens, but eventually I settled on the fact that this was not like some backyard garden. It probably was more like the Amazon.
It was a perfect world that Adam found himself within. And when God created Eve, he had a perfect wife! This was all before sin corrupted us, so such perfection can not be found today. (I love my wife dearly, but she has a sin nature just like me, so that rules out perfection. Although she comes close.)
As I studied these questions I was able to put Adam in differing situations. This required me to step inside the man and become him. Then it was, As Adam how do I react to the Garden? What fascinates me? How do I relate to Woman (Eve)? These questions triggered my imagination.
More difficult than that was Adam’s relationship with God, his Creator. As Adam how did I view God? As Creator? As my Friend? Myriad possibilities. Added to that I had to be very careful about God Himself.
In writing about God I followed a very simple principle: Not to have God do anything or say anything that was not found elsewhere in the Bible. That was tough, but I believe I held to that principle successfully. Thus, the God of my novel was consistent with the God of the Bible.
Actually that principle is good for writing about any well-known historical figure. But it was an absolute must regarding God.
Back to Adam. Another principle I employed was: put myself in his shoes (so to speak). I referred to that above. But it is important enough to go deeper. When writing about your characters, especially your primary character, it is a big plus if you can become that character.
For example, I needed to put myself in Adam’s character and imagine my reaction to the first sin. That wasn’t impossible since I know how I feel whenever I sin; it is terrible guilt! With Adam it would have been magnified! And then there was the expulsion! The Garden of Eden was his home, the only home he had known. How did he feel and how did he react to being cast out?
Identifying with Adam enabled me to demonstrate his sorrow, his strength to handle the murder of Abel, and the building of “Little Eden.” This last was my imagination let loose. If I had been Adam I would have felt tremendous guilt, but I also would have remember the wonderful days in Eden. And I wouldn’t want to forget it! Thus, when I built my first home, and everyone thereafter, I would have built within the house a small place (perhaps a courtyard) where I could meditate and remember God. I might even call it “Little Eden.”
Once I had the character of Adam clearly embedded in my mind, I was able to trace out his history as the years went by and he faced different scenarios, virtually all for the first time.
All in all it was quite a humbling and satisfying experience. I used two very important principles:
1. Not to have God do anything or say anything that was not found elsewhere in the Bible.
2. Put myself in my character’s shoes.
I believe that your imagination is the most valuable tool a writer possesses. If you can put yourself within your character and express the result to your readers, you have the beginning of a successful story.
Imagination is something we emphasize in Authors Academy. While having an imagination is something you have or don’t (and if you don’t you are in the wrong business), but we can give you principles for employing it.
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R. Frederick Riddle is the author of several books. For more information on him visit his Amazon Authors Page. He is also co-founder and Vice President of T&R Independent Books where his books are featured.