Money! — Your Character and Finances

Money! We all need it. (And so do the characters about whose lives we wrangle.) We either love money or hate it, often both. Of course, there are the stories of a family living in a house a few square yards long, or a man solving his financial woes by retiring, or people investing and coming out with big money.  Well, you need money to build, to have put into retirement, and to invest. You read of lottery winners or of poor girls with whom a prince falls in love with. And the chance of either of those happening is such a sliver-thin chance we know it won’t happen to us. But we still hope. Oh, why has money so fascinated us?

On Saving Money — If the average American family eats out four times a week, and my DH and I only eat out once a month (and only to a fast-food-take-it-home-to-eat place), a suggestion to cook at home in order to save money isn’t really relevant. Give up smoking? Don’t do it. Give up annual family trips? DH and I spent $2,000 on our seven-week honeymoon, camping out in or traveling through sixteen states. Our family vacations were all camping or visiting out of state family. Both our cars are eighteen years old. It’s not like we’re putting that extra money in the bank every month; it mostly goes from paycheck to mouth and bills. So how does your protagonist save money?

On Giving Away Money — Even in the church-going realm, the Bible instructs to give one tenth of your income to God. (All of what you have is God’s, but we are expected to give back only one tenth of all that.) Many people claim to be “tithers” because they give money to their churches, but a recent poll showed that only 3% of church-goers actually give that full annual ten percent (and that’s before taxes, gang). The poll also showed that the people who give the larger percent have the less income.

On Having Extra Money — Are rich people happy because of money? How many people are like Rockefeller who, when asked how much was enough, answered, “Always a little more.”

On Being Free of Money — As I mentioned, we need money, but we can be freed from the hunger of it. One of my favorite lines about money is from a movie from a book by Bernard Cornwell. When Richard Sharpe is asked, “What do you do when you don’t have money, Richard?” He answers, “Do without, Sir.” The response is, “No, Richard. You borrow!” Richard is free of the entanglement of money. How about the characters you write about?

Writing Exercise: Think about a character in your story and where they are with money. Do not just think about where they stand physically (e.g., village in Sudan, wealthy American suburb, rural, urban, tourist area). Also wrap your mind around their attitude towards money. Are they needy? Greedy? Freed from it? Then plop your character into a situation to show off that attitude (e.g., earthquake, robbed in an unfamiliar city, divorce, health issue, etc).

Happy writing.

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4 thoughts on “Money! — Your Character and Finances

  1. Like you, we eat out so rarely that dropping that from the budget makes as much difference as shedding an electron or two when measuring weight.

    Also, interesting stats about how the people who donate more often have less. I do think that when you automatically subtract out tithing and other charitable giving first, before making plans for the rest of it, you realize that money is not the most important thing out there.

    And, I think so many books and movies feature people who DO have money that it’s sort of refreshing to read about real people who don’t–plus, it adds challenges to the story.

  2. Rose, I think money is one of those subjects which modern writers list along with the subjects of religion and politics. Sex used to be taboo (shocking to mention), but now is freely written about (anything goes).

    Thanks for your comments.

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