Our job as writers is to put our characters through the worst days of their lives. We first create characters that we like, mostly good people who have numerous attributes we admire.
And then we destroy their lives, hoping they’ll be able to overcome it.
Basically, our job is to make our characters Job.
In the Book of Job, Job is a holy man and, in line with Jewish tradition, has been rewarded by God for being so devout with financial success and a large family. God loves Job and has tremendous faith in the depth of Job’s holiness.
Enter Satan. He’s not so sure. He thinks Job has had it easy and with a little muck and mire, mayhem and devastating loss, Job’s great faith in God will crumble like a brittle stone.
God gives Satan the go ahead to do his best, “all he has is in your power,” but he can’t kill Job. Satan agrees and unleashed his wrath upon Job and his family.
In short order Job’s oxen and donkeys are stolen. His sheep and shepherds are killed by fire from the sky. Raiders take his camels and kill his servants. And his family is killed when their house collapses under a freak storm.
Job, penniless and overcome with grief, is stricken with sickness and sores.
He has lost everything. Everything. Except the most important thing. His faith in God.
Job’s friends come to comfort him and try to figure out what is the cause of Job’s suffering. His friends believe he must have offended God to have his possession and family so ruthlessly taken from him.
But Job challenges them, time and time again, exclaiming his innocence and pleading for God to show him where he failed God, where he offended him. He knows he has remained faithful, even in his current tortuous state, but humbly asks for death to escape the smoldering remnants of his life.
God eventually reenters the story and bears witness to Job’s innocence.
Job has overcome challenge after challenge, disaster after disaster and the doubts and accusations of his closest friends. He has kept the faith.
When we write, we are to do the same thing. Define the character, find their weakest spots and attack, allowing the character to grow and become greater, stronger, by overcoming the awful things we came up with in our heads.
At the end of the day our job is to make our characters live the life of Job. And, likewise, to do so we must play the role of both God (loving and caring for our characters) and Satan (unleashing painful challenges).
Hopefully, our characters will keep the faith and their journey will be as rewarding as Job’s.