Two days ago, we considered the personas our characters create for different emotional and social situations. Outside Marvel movies and noir detective fiction, our protagonists will show different sides of their personality, depending on where they are and whom they are with.

We also thought about whether any of these personas were damaging or upsetting to our hero. Does your protagonist play a role they dislike or one that requires them to hide something important about themselves?

Today, consider what reward system has arisen around your character’s personas. For example, a practiced work persona is probably designed to obtain financial rewards, including salary increases and tenure. The at-home persona may be intended to create a role of the good son or the fun parent.

Consider also the rewards for the roles your character hates to play. The work persona may be necessary for financial reasons, even if the role is draining your hero emotionally. The role of the dutiful child may also be connected to financial benefit, religious or moral beliefs, or an assuagement of guilt.

When we consider rewards for emotional behavior, we also need to consider the dark side. A parent competing for their child’s attentions may be trying to make their spouse look bad. The dutiful child might reward himself with a feeling of moral superiority over his siblings.

Avoiding unpleasant emotions or confrontations are another type of reward. The good employee might work late to avoid a situation at home. A parent who sacrifices for their children might be avoiding regret about past decisions.

As we did before, take time to play with these layers of character and see what develops.