Some time ago, in a post entitled A Bunch of Daft Punks, I mulled over the problem of character development. Unlike many of my fellow writers, I’ve always said that I detest the people I write about. I despise everyone in One God—with the exception of one character, whom I love: Will Smart. It was not love at the first sight—instead, my affection for him grew slowly, until it reached a colossal size. Now, I admire Will. Out of a hundred characters in the book, he’s the only one I care about.
When I did the research for One God, I discovered that a lot of people know someone like Will—someone really bold. Here in Poland, the word bold is usually pejorative. We shy away from people who brag, who’re self-confident and know their own strengths—yet, at the same time, we want to be like them. Confident, capable, strong, proactive, and smart. Like Will Smart.
Every one of my friends knows at least one person they consider truly BOLD, as do I. When creating a character who could go toe-to-toe with Miran, I needed someone who met all the criteria for boldness, so when I talked to my sources I gave them a questionnaire I titled “Are You Bold?” Here it is, with a few notes and explanations. Answer every question with 1 (no/ not at all/ never), 2 (maybe), 3 (yes/ sure I am/ always).
- Do you tend to ignore uncomfortable facts until they change?
Bold people don’t care about facts—they just do the job. Even if everyone else says their idea’s crazy, they keep going unless their own judgment tells them to do otherwise. They’re not stupid, don’t get me wrong. But they stick to their decisions. If that means ignoring a few facts, so be it—we all know pantha rhei, so there’s no point worrying today about something that might not be true anymore tomorrow.
- Are you the only person you know with your hobby?
Bold people have strange hobbies. They don’t just collect stamps or books, they don’t take photos or buy rare vinyl discs on eBay. How about breeding piranhas or iguanas? Or travelling to the moon (provided you have the cash)? Or maybe an extreme sport? Bold people find this kind of hobby entertaining. For a while, anyway—they get bored easily.
- Do you find chess boring?
Or playing any other game of strategy that doesn’t involve betting. Bold people don’t care about complex strategies requiring finesse, they care about the thrill. They need action—they want to move on, discover, defeat, and win. Playing chess is for people who prefer long evenings in front of a fireplace—definitely not for the bold.
- Do you hate it when the other people cry?
Bold people aren’t overly concerned about the emotions of others. Sure, they understand that other people feel joy or heartbreak, but it’s unimportant. As long as people obey their orders, things are fine. When they stop obeying—that’s a problem. If they support the bold leader in reaching his or her goal—that’s good. If not—well, they’ll have to be crushed. It’s as simple as that—nothing personal. But there are exceptions to the rule—family, for example. Bold people are often very caring toward those close to them, and want them to live in comfort and peace. Don’t tease, pester, or bully one of these protected people unless you’re looking for trouble.
- Would you try base jumping?
Bold people are brave, something that extends beyond daring moves in business to activities that other people might consider downright crazy. They’ll try base jumping, free falling, rock climbing, skiing on wild and dangerous slopes, and so on. In fact, it seems to me that they need a lot of adrenaline just to feel normal. The average human would die from an adrenaline rush that intense, but they feel at home with it.
- Do you love your mother/ father/ caregiver?
Bold people are usually raised by loving parents—sometimes to the point of being spoiled. They get a lot of positive feedback growing up, and so become confident. Sure, there are children who are mistreated who nonetheless grow up to achieve a lot, but they tend to be driven by fear, whereas the bold are driven by a belief that they deserve anything and everything they can imagine having—after all, that’s what their mum and dad always told them, both in words and deeds.
- Have you ever devoted yourself to playing a sport or an instrument?
Nothing hones the psyche better than playing a sport or an instrument. Hours of practice, staying focused, not losing your temper. You’re not allowed to smash your violin in frustration, or give in to screaming. Bold people may become bored easily, but when they have a goal, they don’t drop it easily, either. Very often they were taught in early childhood to pursue their ideas doggedly, through endless piano lessons. Or karate workouts. Or anything requiring patience.
- Can you name three of your greatest strengths just like that?
Bold people have no problem with this. I do—I can only name one. How about you?
- Have you ever heard that you’re creative?
Genuinely bold people are highly creative. If they can’t find the road to success, they’ll set to work building it. If they hit an impasse, they’ll find a work-around. They often engage in a wide range of undertakings: running different types of companies, doing different jobs at the same time, changing professions. They learn fast and adapt to change readily.
- Do you look at people when you talk to them?
Shy people tend not to. Bold people are never shy.
So, how did you do? I rate people with a score over 20 as quite bold. Between 10 and 20 is not terribly bold. And under 10? Well, nothing wrong with that—the world can’t be filled entirely with the bold.
My Will scored 30 on this quiz. He’s confident, has a crazy hobby, loves to try new kinds of entertainment (including some that are illegal), and loves his mother. Like any bold person, he’s a bit of a psycho. He doesn’t care too much about the people around him—they’re just the pawns in his game. And his language leaves a lot to be desired. But you’ll need to actually read One God if you want to get to know him better.
I think Will Smart worked out really well (“I did a great job writing him,” she said boldly). I had problems challenging him in the course of the book—I’d rather torment Miran and spare Will. Of course, my pet character couldn’t win his clashes with Miran too easily, or all the time—my Will had to really work when he did battle with the head of Genesis. Who won? Hmmm. I’m not telling.