Posts Tagged ‘Jack Miner: “A man’s reputation is what other people think’

Writing: Reputation Vs. Character

Sunday, October 5th, 2014

“A man’s reputation is what other people think
of him; his character is what he really is.”

~ Jack Miner

Reputation vs. character. How can they differ? Perhaps the story behind the reputation differs from who your character is.

In the television show Burn Notice, Michael, the protagonist, is a spy who discovers he’s been removed, “burned,” from the CIA. Cut off from financial resources, a web of support and contacts, he has unseen enemies within the organization and outside of it. As he works on private cases, attempting to untangle the mystery and get back into his old job, his goal is helping innocent people while earning a living.

Through it all, his encounters with government agents allude to his past: he’s a ruthless killer. Is Michael’s character, as we know him, different than his past? What’s the story behind the story? Was he set up to be the fall guy?

As the story behind the story is revealed, suspense with the audience, or with a book, the reader, grows.

Writing Prompts:

Create a character who acts one way while shields his true self.

  1. Take your protagonists and put her/him into a situation where reputation, beyond control, is cast in a negative light. What is the story behind the story which casts the character differently?
  2. Now write the opposite. An antagonist takes credit for everything good, while acts deviously behind the scenes.
  3. In the photo below, write what happens when this dog’s family arrives home. Next, write the story behind the story. How can the pooch’s reputation differ from his true character?liz photo