Pride Is Bad
What is the light side of pride? That's when we work hard on something or are proud of our accomplishments. However, I wanted to focus on the darker side of pride. What is this? Let's start by defining what pride is not. A person does not do something because they have pride. Instead, they do not do something. A good example is not apologizing because we would have to face a person and admit fault. Taking this a step further, one would never say, "I hit you because I have pride."
We fill our lives with pride-motivated decisions, and these are not our proudest moments, but a person cannot be perfect. Dark pride is illogical, immoral, and often insulting. It holds us back, gets us into trouble, and makes others think less about us. But we have pride and still make those decisions.
There is another problem with dark pride that I wanted to write about. It makes a terrible story motivation. This is true of fiction and nonfiction. Let's make an easy example. While driving home, Tom is sleepy and accidentally dents his neighbor's car. The dent is small and will not cost much to repair. Tom can easily afford to fix the damage, but he remains silent about the incident. Why? He would have to face his neighbor and admit fault.
We all understand what is going on, and want to yell, HEY TOM, MAN UP! Just walk over, take responsibility, pay for the small dent, and all will be forgiven. But does Tom have a defect? Is he secretly a gambler and has no money? There must be a reason for his actions.
And there is the problem. A character must have an explained reason for actions. It is wrong to hope that readers will make the leap to pride. "Everybody understands what's going on. Why I did the same thing last week." Readers might think, "Oh, I get it. In the next chapter, Tom is going to go crazy." And when Tom does not go crazy, the readers will get angry. And remember that Tom is not crazy, yet pride is illogical.
There is some good news. I have come up with a trick to explain this common occurrence. I use the word "pride" to explain a character's motivation. "Tom crashed his car into his neighbor's car. The next day, he had too much pride to admit his mistake." That small addition is all that is necessary.
Yet, I have read many books where I did not understand the motivation behind a character's actions. I recall one book set in a fictitious world where two factions went to war. Why? One day, the leader simply declared war. Completely confusing. And I know people do all kinds of crazy things. Like going to war and then not retreating when victory is hopeless…
I have pride in my blogs. It is fun to write something, see the result and get reactions. But I never want my four blog readers to be stuck guessing because that would miss the point.
You’re the best -Bill
August 17, 2022
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