Prized possessions

Our prized possessions say a lot about us. My most prized possession is a religious picture that hung in my grandmother’s house. It’s in an old oval wooden frame with curved glass in it. It says God Bless our Home. Why do I love it? Because it has been in my family since before I was born. Because it depicts a value that has been honored in my family for generation. I love it because it’s one of the few things I managed to save when my house burned to the ground in 1993. (That picture was the first thing I grabbed. We won't talk about the useless stuff I grabbed after that.)

I’m starting a new book this month. It’s another Amish story and I’m not sure what my heroine’s prized possession will be. It will be something simple, a wedding gift perhaps, or something that came down through her family. Maybe something homemade and valued for the loving care with which it was crafted. Why? Because that is what Miriam will value. Her marriage, her heritage, the things she can pass on to her daughter.

My characters almost always have something they value. In my book Military Daddy, Shane had a muscle car he’d fixed up. He made it shine! He loved that car. How did I use the car to show how much he cared about the heroine Annie?

First off, when Annie’s car wouldn’t work and she needed a vehicle to get around, he loaned her his car. It was a tough move for him, but he was going to out of town with the color guard and the car would have been sitting unused outside his barracks. Having him loan it to Annie showed just how much he wanted to help her.

By the end of the story, Annie needed to be transported from Fort Riley, Kansas to Houston for emergency fetal surgery by private medical aircraft. Neither of them had the money, but to save Annie and his unborn child, Shane sold his car.

Readers loved it. They identified with a man who made sacrifices for his family. He is one of my best loved heroes.

I don’t always know what the key will be when I start a story. I usually realize near the end of the book that I’ve created it without knowing why.

Being a writer is just that way, sometimes.


Becky A said...

When the subject of our characters prized possessions was mentioned, I sat scratching my head. My characters didn't have any that I was aware of. I've been thinking about it a lot though and even though I wasn't aware of it, they have them.
Reggie's is his old, beat up cowboy hat. Like him, it's had a rough life but it's still here, still usable and still hanging on. Like Reggie, what you see is what you get. No pretense, no mask and nothing fancy. Dependable and genuine describe both hat and man. He may get a new one for Christmas but I'll bet he hangs on to the old one, just in case.
Thanks Pat, for helping me dig a little deeper into my characters.

Pat Davids said...

Thanks Becky,
Glad I could help you understand your man better. It's something your heroine may want to notice or say about him.

Why keep such a good understanding between author and hero quiet? Let the reader in on it.

Joan Vincent said...

Pat, I too found on thinking of this topic that most of my characters don't have prized possessions. The things they value most seem to be interior and intangible. Then I realized I was wrong. Your post made me realize that though not mentioned in the actual books my characters do have objects they valued that revealed much of who they are. Thank you for that and Happy Easter!

Roxann Delaney said...

Until this latest book, I haven't used objects for cherished possessions, at least not that I can remember. In the previous one, the hero gives the heroine a Christmas gift, and she's seen using it later.

Another heroine's prized possession wasn't hers, but her aunt's and would belong to the heroine in the future. It was land. Does that count?

I'll definitely keep the option of using a possession in the future.

Penny Rader said...

Great post, Pat! I haven't read Military Daddy yet, but I plan to remedy that soon.

Reese Mobley said...

Your post got me to thinking about what prized possessions I would give my characters in my wip. Thanks for the nudge! It really will make them seem more real. Perhaps it will be a stuffed armadillo like the one I have. (grin)

Elaine Morrison said...

Pat, I loved the book Military Daddy! But that's no suprise --- I love all your books! I looked at my characters and found that my heroine's most prized possession so far is a skill --- her martial arts ability. When I get further along in the story I'm sure there will be more tangible items. But just wondering if a skill can count as a prized possession?

Starla Kaye said...

Oh my gosh! You had me tearing up about the car thing and the hero selling his beloved possession to show his love for Annie.

I read so many books, especially now that I'm a reviewer. But I haven't thought about noticing what characters think of as their "prized possessions." Now I'll start watching for that special tidbit.

Pat Davids said...

Your characters always have such quirky things. I love that about them. Odd possession can show characters quirky personality much better than telling the reader what an odd person they are.

Elaine and Rox,
Skills and land certainly count as prized possessions. What a person values shows a lot about them. It tells me one character desires to be in charge and safe, the other desires to hold on to family values and independence.

A "prized possession" can be anything. It can be a woman's shoe collection or a man's old recliner, but it doesn't have to be a physical item.

For Joan's characters it's often the friendship her military men share as brother's in arms. They prize their loyalty to each other. It lets a reader know that when one of her men fall in love it will be forever exactly because they value loyalty so highly.

I'm sorry I made you tear up. It was a tear-jerker of a book. As you are doing your reviews, let us know if you come across a character possession that really catches your eye and tell us how it affects the story.