Bringing Out Character: The New Pope

English: Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archb...

Cardinal Jorge M. Bergoglio SJ, Archbishop of Buenos Aires (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

With a puff of white smoke from the Sistine Chapel and to the cheers of millions of faithful, the Catholic Church elected their new Pope a few hours ago. Now I’m neither Catholic nor religious, so if you’re looking for a theological debate or a affirmation or condemnation, this is clearly the wrong blog for you. The reason I’m making this post is because of this list of facts that’s making its way around Facebook.

Facts about Pope Francis

  1. Bergoglio was born in Buenos Aires in 1936. His father was an Italian immigrant.
  2. He’s the first pope from South America. The only remaining continents that have never had a pope come from their lands are Australia, Antarctica, and North America.
  3. He’s the first Jesuit pope.
  4. He only has one lung. His other lung was removed due to infection when he was a teenager.
  5. Bergoglio is known for his personal simplicity. In Argentina he lived in a simple apartment rather than the archbishop’s palace, cooked his own meals, and gave up his chauffeured limousine in favor of taking the bus to work.
  6. In 2010, when Argentina became the first Latin American country to legalize same-sex marriage, Bergoglio encouraged clergy across the country to tell Catholics to protest against the legislation because, if enacted, it could “seriously injure the family” and that gay adoption would be “depriving (children) of the human growth that God wanted them given by a father and a mother.”
  7. He studied and received a master’s degree in chemistry at the University of Buenos Aires, but later decided to become a Jesuit priest and studied liberal arts at the Catholic seminary in Santiago, Chile.
  8. At the age of 76, Francis is the ninth oldest pope of those elected after 1295. (Benedict, who was elected at the age of 78, was fifth oldest.)
  9. Last year, Bergoglio compared Catholic priests who refused to baptize the children of unwed mothers to the Pharisees of Jesus’ day. “These are today’s hypocrites. Those who clericalize the Church,” he said, adding, “Jesus teaches us another way: Go out. Go out and share your testimony, go out and interact with your brothers, go out and share, go out and ask. Become the Word in body as well as spirit.”

When I read this simple 9 point note, I was like, “Wow, he sounds awesome!” This is despite not following the news, never having heard of this fellow before and honestly having no opinion about him whatsoever. Some things that immediately came to mind were, he is a great man who has survived great adversity, he is opinionated and is willing to speak his mind,  he has an affinity with the poor of the world who absolutely adore him. He is also intelligent, forward looking but balances finely between the demands of the future and the sanctity of the past. Oh, and he’s old.

All that detail in a little over 200 words. – History, Birth, Pain, Rise to Glory, Who He Is and A Voice. Throw in another 100 and you could probably describe his physical traits and view of the future as well.

So fleshed out, so creative….why can’t I write like that. This got me thinking about my character creation process. I’m trying to move on from normal everyday folk to cops to heroes/famous people simply because my characters ARE BORING. Sidney Sheldon and Danielle Steele were probably on to something when they decided to ditch normal for fanciful leads, and that is what I intend to try out for now.

But instead of creating a bullet point, I found it easier to write a simple paragraph about your character, throwing in as much details as you can. But the basics should still be covered –  Birth/History, Pain, Rise to Glory, Who He Is Now and A Voice. Backstory is nice but I believe the writer should find a way to weave it in, instead of having a separate chunk for it.

My Creation

Peter Pendleton, better known as his pen name Borris Black is a suddenly-famous author on the verged of being labelled as a one-off has-been. He races around the clock to meet the deadline for his next horror novel having taken a massive advancement from his publisher and spending every cent he had.  With the possibility of foreclosure on his lavish apartment overlooking the East Bank looming if he does not deliver, he tries to write, but encounters a problem he never had before – Writer’s Block. Seeking inspiration from outside, he attends a high school reunion where its evident he was the ostracised loner kid from school. There, he stays in his shell, thinking bad things that will happen to everyone in that room, until he meets an old friend who changes his life forever…

That’s what I’ve come up with so far, it’s a far cry from a historical figure like the Pope, but it’ll suffice for the needs for my story.

How about you, how do you go about creating a character.


4 thoughts on “Bringing Out Character: The New Pope

  1. Poor Peter. You can do it!

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