I've just seen details of a blogfest where the participants are asked to write about their MC's greatest fear, biggest accomplishment and biggest regret. This is an exercise designed to help them to get to know their characters better.
I started thinking about this. Not in relation to any of my main characters, though, but in relation to myself - and I realised I couldn't define any of these things!
Greatest fear? Can't think of a greatest. I have lots of lesser and larger fears, from being stung by a wasp to being in a plane crash. From fearing a bad review for one of my books to being scared of spiders. (I know, I'm a wimp!). I've had lots of different fears at different times of my life. But 'greatest' fear? Nope, can't say that I have one single great fear.
Biggest accomplishment? I've accomplished a lot of things but how do I quantify or compare them? Is bringing up two daughters to be mature and responsible adults a 'bigger' accomplishment than having a 25 year career as a teacher? Is running a Girl Guide unit for 20+ years a bigger accomplishment than running a social group for over 50's for the last 12 years? I'm proud of many things that I've achieved, but no way could I say which was the 'biggest' accomplishment.
Biggest regret? We all have regrets and I'm no exception. But again, it's impossible to define the 'biggest' regret because it's so difficult to compare one with another.
As a result of my self-questioning, I question the value of asking writers to define their main character's 'biggest' fear, accomplishment or regret. By doing so, I think we run the risk of making our characters one-dimensional. I think we have to take into account, not the 'biggest', but ALL the hopes and fears, accomplishments and failures that contribute to the complexity of each individual's personality.
What do you think?