I’m getting ready to write the second draft of the next book in my Abundance series. At this stage, one of the things I look at in particular is whether or not my hero and heroine are likable.
In fiction, one way to make a character more likable is to have them do something kind early in the book. In a romance this may show that the hero, who perhaps comes across as gruff, is actually a good guy. Or that the heroine, who may seem irritable or mopey or otherwise someone we might not want to spend three hundred pages with, is really someone we want to get to know.
It works with secondary characters too.
For instance, in my book Love at Sunset Lake, I have a secondary character, Abby, who runs an antique shop. When Abby first appears in the story, she’s paid someone twenty dollars for an old, beat-up recliner that is in no way an antique. She bought the chair simply because the seller needed the money. This little bit of information takes up less than a page in the story. It wasn’t planned. Abby just appeared in my mind as a really nice person, the friend that the heroine of Love at Sunset Lake needed to meet. However, I think that kindness Abby shows when we first meet her is what makes her a favorite character to some of my readers and what made me want to write her story in a later book, Love and Roses.
In fiction, there is so much power in one kind act. Which brings me to a real-life story I want to share, a story about a rosebush.
Fifteen years ago, when our kids were little, my husband took them to a local garden center to buy a maple tree for our front yard. The garden center is a pop-up place, a tent that’s only there in the summer. This day, late in August, was near the end of the season. Soon the garden center would disappear until next year.
About an hour after they left, my family came back with a small maple tree, which is now about twenty-five feet tall. They also came back with a pink rosebush the owner had given them for free.
I studied advertising in school. I understand that the freebie was good marketing, a perfect example of giving the customer more than they expected, like when a baker throws in an extra roll when you order a dozen. I also imagine that, since the center was about to shut down, if the owner hadn’t given my husband the rosebush, it would have been thrown away.
The heart of the story, though, in my mind, is that when the owner gave that rosebush to my husband—a man who was clearly shopping when the trees were on sale, a man unlikely to ever spend a lot of money at the garden center—the owner probably knew it wasn’t marketing that would pay off later in big profits.
Instead it was a kind act that has blessed our family for years. That pink rosebush has bloomed and bloomed and bloomed, all summer, every summer, without fail, often despite benign neglect. It has made the front of the house more beautiful and given countless blossoms that my daughter and I put in little vases inside.
And the garden center owner has no idea.
I imagine you don’t know how much your kind deeds have meant to people either. The little text you sent a friend who’s been sick. The hug you gave someone at the grocery store. The time you spent listening to someone who was going through a hard time. The person you prayed for, then told them you were remembering them. Any one of those small things you’ve done may have had repercussions far beyond what you could imagine, for the person you helped and for the people around them.
Just like in fiction, one small act of kindness can have a lot of power.
If you’re like me, you sometimes think of a kind thing you could do, only to find that the phone rings, the urgent presses in, and the day slips away. The kind act never quite happens.
Today, if one of those inspirations for kindness hits, I encourage you to act on it. It doesn’t have to be a big thing. It might even be giving something you were going to throw away to just the right person.
You will feel blessed. And who knows? That one small act might bring fifteen years of blessings to someone else.
What about you? Have you ever been the blessed with a special act of kindness? Or do you have an inspiration for a kind act you could do today? Something that might feel small to you but seem big to someone else? If so, please share in the comments.
In honor of that rosebush, I’m giving away a free copy of my book, Love and Roses (one Kindle copy, available worldwide). In this story, Abby, the owner of the antique store, finds love. If you’d like to be included in the drawing, please comment by Friday evening, June 28, 2019. One commenter on this post will be chosen at random, notified by email, and announced in a Sunday edition.
*Void where prohibited; the odds of winning depend on the number of entrants. Entering the giveaway is considered a confirmation of eligibility on behalf of the enterer in accord with these rules and any pertaining local/federal/international laws.*