By Kate Curran
I’ve done several blogs on grit recently, and I keep circling back to this subject. What is grit? According to Angela Duckworth, author of Grit, the Power of Passion and Perseverance, grit is perseverance and passion for long term goals.
Grit is what motivated me to start a long term goal that I never thought I could achieve—running. My goal is to enter and race in the Pole, Pedal, Paddle next April so I started running in May. I have never considered myself a runner. I knew I could finish, but I might end up walking part way. Well, finding my grit I have not only run five miles in just a few months, but I am improving my form and speed all thanks to grit.
I have also taken on mountain biking, hiking, and I have written close to a 1,000 articles for various magazine over the last 20 years. I have also written several books, plus dozens of rewrites before I finally published them. All of this things take grit, and I am a firm believer we all have grit. Some of us are gritter than others, but we can learn to find and use our grit. If you want to learn more, I highly recommend reading Duckworth’s book. I would even go so far as to say it’s a must read for writers.
I’m also learning that finding my own grit has helped me create grittier characters. I used to think that making them suffer made them strong, but I’m discovering that making them strive for greatness makes them great whether they are an athlete, a stay-at-home, a plumber or a nuclear physicist. It’s not their career that makes them great, it’s their grit that drives them to greatness.
For instance, what if the heroine’s goal is to become an Olympic swimmer? While she has plenty of talent, she refuses to take the advice of coaches and mentors. She’s determined to do it all on her own without any help from anyone. Does she come off as strong and sympathetic because she can do it alone, or unsympathetic?
But what if the heroine has less talent and more grit? What if against all odds she keeps swimming even though she’s the slowest on the team? What if she continues to believe in herself even after numerous failures? What if she searches constantly for ways to improve her technique, she finds a mentor who encourages her and a coach who won’t give up on her? Isn’t that grit? Isn’t that a character you’d admire and want to read about? I know I would.
Grit could also be a negative for a villain. We can use the villain’s grit to persevere and accomplish a negative goal—continue their killing spree until they are stopped. After all, we don’t want our villain to give up without a fight.
What characters do you admire and why? Are they admirable because of their grit?
Definitely not, and although she enjoyed her career as a photojournalist, she was ready to spread her wings and make a leap into something new—contemporary romances. Ironically, her books still carry an agriculture thread in them, some more than others.
Also writing under Kathy Coatney, Kate has written a series of children’s books, From the Farm to the Table and Dad’s Girls.
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