Character is the KEY to Story. Character is what creates, builds and drives a story. If you don’t give a flip about any of the characters, you’ll put down the book or turn the channel. Characters we can relates to and cheer for. So I decided to compile a list of character traits about what makes a winning character in MY eyes, based on what I’ve noticed about MacGyver and using the ABC’s:
A = Adaptable Things change. Situations are always fluid. You have to be able to roll with the punches, take whatever comes.
B = Believes Everyone believes in something. Anyone who says they don’t is a liar. There’s always something that drives a person and holds them together.
C = Creative Being able to see the potential in everyone and everything, turn a problem into a challenge, find new uses for things, being able to see (and work) outside the box.
D = Deteremined & Dependable Life is full of challenges and obstacles. Treat them as challenges and learning experiences and things that make you stronger. Be someone others can count on as someone who can go the distance and see it through.
E = Educated Not necessarily FORMAL education, but someone who is ALWAYS learning and growing and changing – who never makes the same mistake twice.
F = Faces Fears Everyone feels fear. Everyone fears something. What defines you is being able to face & conquer your fears, to not let them rule you.
G = Genuine Know who and what you are, what you believe in and what drives you. Stand by them. Be yourself. Don’t be afraid to let others see the “real” you. No lies or hidden agendas.
H = Hardworking/Helpful/Humor/Honest/Honorable Okay okay I’ll stop there, but there are SO many good ones here… Seriously, no one’s going to hand you your happily-ever-after. You have to work hard for it, be willing to help others. For something bigger than yourself, be willing to make a difference. And it helps to be able to have a sense of humor about yourself, to be humble and not take yourself too seriously.
I = Innovative Something needs doing. How do you get it done? If it’s never been done before, if there’s no precedent — it still needs doing. You make something up. Can’t be afraid of failure. Edison was prime example of “If at first you don’t succeed…”
J = Justice A strong sense of justice, of right and wrong. The ones to stand up to the bullies, the ones who defend the helpless, who work to lift you up & not beat you down.
K = Keeps Trying Nothing worth having comes easy. How bad do you want/need something?
L = Listener We’re all in this together. Everyone has a viewpoint, experiences, ideas. We have to be able to listen & learn from each other. How many GOOD ideas would you miss if you don’t listen? Only way to work together, to grow…
M = Moral What do you value, believe in? What’s your sense of right & wrong? What are your limitations? What inner compass guides you? What are your ethics?
N = Never Gives Up “Winners never quit & quitters never win.” When things get tough, you dig in and try harder. Something gets in your way and you can’t go through it, then find a way to get over or around it. Often there are others depending on what you do — you have to work for them, and give them a shining example to look up to.
O = Open-minded Life is full of new people, places, experiences and ideas. Embrace the variety and differences and what makes us all unique & special.
P = Persistent & Planner Never go off half-cocked. Assess the situation, develop a tentative game plan and grab what you think you’ll most need — or the tools you need to gather what you need along the way. See it through to the end.
Q = Quick-thinking & Questions Never assume you know everything. Question everything. When life changes it up, think fast. Adapt.
R = Rational & Resourceful Be a thinker, not a reacter. The solution is usually there, you just have to look for it and be able to recognize it when you see it. It won’t always be obvious, but you can make due and still accomplish your goal.
S = Smart Horror movies always weed out the dumb ones — cliched but true. Use your brain. Look, listen, assess. Use the right tools — don’t bring a knife to a gunflight or try to cut down a tree with a screwdriver.
T = Thoughtful & Tenacious Be kind & helpful to others. Don’t give up. If you commit to something, you see it through to the end.
U = Underdog Fight for those who can’t fight for themselves. Defend the weak and helpless. Work to affect change, to make the world a better and more equal place, where everyone is equal and has rights and dignity and respect.
V = Values What do you believe make you and the world better? What drives you? What do you hold most precious & dear? What do you think of on your darkest night? What picks you up out of the mud?
W = Whatever It Takes Someone needs you to do something. You need to do something. It’s challenging, some would say impossible. But it NEEDS to be done. No one else can do it. There’s only you. So get ‘er done. How? Whatever it takes.
X = Xtreme Okay, so I was grasping here (X’s are HARD!) But MacGyver set the bar for high stakes. He was notoriously afraid of heights, but was always mountain climbing and rappelling and jumping out of airplanes — because the mission required it. It usually involved a rescue or stopping a disaster. He HAD to do it. So he sucked it up, shoved the fear aside and DID it. (And probably threw up afterward, but they never show that…)
Y = Yourself As in, BE yourself. Respect yourself and others and celebrate the unique. Don’t hide who you are. Stand up for yourself and show everyone what a wonderful individual you are.
Z = Zeal & Zest Do what you love and love what you do. Make every day a grand adventure.
That’s what I see in MacGyver, and why I encourage my kids to watch and emulate heroes like that. That’s what I try to bring to the page each and every time. My heroes have a similar code of ethics as above. My villains are the antithesis of the above. Sometimes villains are just those who have lost their way and can be redeemed. Other times they truly are lost souls. It’s the variety and the contrasts that bring life and drama and scope to a story.