Last Monday, I began the process of taking the kernel of an idea and expanding it. People always ask writers, “Where do you get your ideas?” Well, there’s not a straight-forward answer. An idea is like a child. In the hot, sweaty throes of life a few bits of information merge, and BAM! Life. Some might consider this an idea, but it is just the idea of an idea. It holds some promise, but the writer’s job is to determine “Does this hold water?”, “Is there weight to it?” and “Will it stand the test of time?”
Our kernel, so far, has been about a person who is a Sin-Eater, someone who takes on the sins, the pain and the darkness of another or others. We came up with a name: Simon Peter. To refresh your memory, here is the blurb we ended with:
This leaves us with the framework, the bones, the skeleton of our character: Simon Peter, a lapsed Catholic, who speaks before he thinks. He listens to others, which means he has empathy, and can be a rock, a solid foundation when he makes his mind up.
In the comments, you dear reads, asked to move on to discussing “Why does he eat the sins of others?” This brings in the title of today’s post: WWWWWH Questions. Pronounced “wuuuuuuuuh”, like the sound of deadlines whizzing by. Not really. Ok, maybe a little. You learned these in grade school (I hope): Who, What, When, Where, Why and How. These are the questions that you apply to your kernel of an idea. Today, we answer Why.
Simon Peter, the Sin-Eater, had a wife and couldn’t please her, so he walled her in their basement and… oh, sorry. I got carried away there. That’s how my mind works, though. Did you see what I did? Simon Peter? Peter Peter the Pumpkin Eater? Mixed with a little Edgar Allen Poe and BAM! Something interesting comes out. Simon Peter, our lapsed Catholic, lapsed because his wife left him, or moreover, because God would not answer his prayers. In depression, anguish and grief, he lashed out. He cursed God, and so, God (Perhaps? Or maybe he just believes God did so) cursed him.
Characters with abilities tend to work better when they are conflicted about those abilities. While someone like Captain America is happy with his super-strength and makes a decent character, someone like Jessica Jones, who is tortured over her powers and what happens when she uses them, is a more compelling character. And that’s what we want: a compelling character.
All of this, still does not answer “Why does he eat the sins of others?” It tells us why he has the ability, but not why he chooses to use it. The great thing about people who have lapsed from religion, they have normally done so because they see hypocrisy running rampant. That is what our Simon Peter has seen. He sees people who care more about the price of their house, the clothes they were, and who gives how much to the church, rather than caring for those who truly need help. Simon may be lapsed, but he still wants to help people. So, he walked away from it all. The big, fancy house, the beautiful wife who cheated on him, the six-figure career.
Now, he lives day-to-day. He works odd jobs to make enough to get by on, to help others. He works in the inner city, he travels, hitchhikes and plays the hobo life, to get from place to place, to help those who truly need it. “Why does Simon eat the sins of others?” Because everyone wants and deserves to be loved. Simon takes their pain and darkness, bears their sins so that they can be.
Let me know in the comments what you would like to work on next Monday!
- Does he enjoy it?
- Where is he from?
- What does he do, is this his full-time job?