I love quotes, proverbs, old sayings. As a teacher I used them. I had entire books of them. I love to find fiction books that begin with one. How does the quote connect with the text? It has me asking questions before I’ve even begun reading. A mini-mystery. So, when I stumbled upon this one on Facebook, my inner reader engaged. I’ve heard it before and it’s one of my favorites for a host of reasons.
An old Cherokee told his grandson, “My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is Evil. It is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, & ego. The other is Good. It is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & truth.” The boy thought about it, and asked, “Grandfather, which wolf wins?” The old man quietly replied, “The one you feed.”
Unfortunately, we all know humans are flawed and too often we feed the wrong wolf more than we should. In fiction that is what makes our characters raw and real. Recently, I saw Captain America. Nerd that I am, I enjoy the comic book heroes. As I watched it though, I thought about the nature of those super heroes. Granted super humans qualities and one flaw. Can you imagine humans with only one flaw? Or with multiple super traits?
When we create characters, we have to remember those inner wolves the Cherokee spoke of, and we need to feed the demon wolf more than once. Otherwise, we risk the super hero archetype of a character with merely one flaw. I love crusty characters so feeding that demon can be fun.
How do you feed your characters’ inner wolves?