Learn About Values

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A JCAD “Learn About Values” Workout

A thought-provoking exercise to hone your characters, your story idea, your theme

 

First, let’s differentiate between ethics, morals, and values

Ethics = A generally accepted set of moral principles

Morals = The good or bad or right or wrong of actions

Values = Individual or personal standards of what is valuable or important

 

Next, we decide what our values are.  Sounds elementary?  Take a test:

  • Write down the major challenges (both positive and negative) you have encountered in your lifetime. This could be a page long or ten pages long.  No time limit.  It’s just for your eyes.

  • Now, answer this question: How did you overcome or meet these challenges.  Are you still dealing with them?

  • Next question: If you could be a main character in a story, what challenges (positive and negative) would you like to give to your main character?

  • Next, how do you think your main character could overcome/meet these challenges you have given to him/her?

  • Next, write down some of the values that “speak” to you.  For example,

  1. Honesty

  2. Trust

  3. Kindness

  4. Integrity

  5. Courage

  6. Perseverance

  7. Personal Responsibility

  8. Empathy

  9. Tolerance

  10. Anything else you can come up with!

Now, let’s do a WHAT IF exercise with values:

We know that problems may arise where individuals allow their personal values to interfere with their actions, thereby potentially bringing their actions into conflict with stated ethical standards.

WHAT IF individuals allow their personal values (which are the opposite of what we wrote above) to interfere with their actions? 

For example, let’s say personal values are: Dishonesty, immorality (the opposite of what we wrote).

Now, we have a law firm that specializes in dishonesty and immorality, such as the one in The Firm.  Why?  Because it’s a firm that is a front for the mafia: Nobody ever leaves!!! (except in a coffin)

So we’ve just taken a value system and corrupted it, and what is the result?  We have CONFLICT.  John Grisham, who wrote The Firm, has given the hero (in the film, the Tom Cruise character), a young, idealistic lawyer, CONFLICT.  He doesn’t know about what this firm really does when he takes the job.  His wife has an inkling that all is not quite right, but Tom Cruise, young lawyer, is swayed by the offer of a Mercedes, a home, a mortgage that comes with a nice down payment, and a huge first-year salary with all the perks.  Is it greed on the hero’s part?  Or is it the lure of a poor boy finally “making it” and being accepted by his wife’s wealthy (and snobbish) family?

Then we look at the values of the hero: Integrity, Honesty, the complete opposite of the firm.

And now we know the challenges Tom Cruise’s character is going to have to overcome to SURVIVE because the Firm is going to murder him, as they have done to other attorneys who discovered just who they are.

How many of us are confronted with DISHONESTY AND IMMORALITY?  Do we consider ourselves to be honest and moral?  Are we ever tempted to be dishonest and immoral?  What happens to the Tom Cruise character as he confronts all of his challenges in the story?  Is he tempted by immorality?  Yes.  Is he tempted by dishonesty? Definitely.  So, how does he resolve his challenges?  We find out in the climax, in Act 3!

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https://jcad18.org/2015/02/learn-about-values/
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