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Pardon the incorrect grammar. English is not my first language. Long post.

The context is this:

A man is delivering his dead friend's baby to its grandfather.

The old man hasn't seen his son in 10 years. Of course he would ask questions on the state of his beloved son.

I can see the friend's mind debating on two options:

  1. Lie.

In a way of, "Oh, he went off to explore other places to pursue his dreams. He entrusted me his son to look for you myself."

Because he's thinking that handing over your friend's toddler to a grieving caretaker might not end well.

And he doesn't know the old man enough to know how he'll handle the kid when he's gone.

So, his reasoning would be that maybe, this old man wouldn't be as much in distraught if he just knew that his son is alive somewhere, but won't ever go home.

  1. Tell the truth.

This poor father has been waiting for years on news of his beloved son. He deserves to be told the truth. Despite thinking that he could be jeopardizing the kid's life growing up because of the truth, he just hopes for the best.

I have trouble putting myself in a character's shoes. So I ask, what would most likely be this man's decision?

Attachments could be tossed to weigh in more weight to lie. As the dead man's friend, he would feel obligated to make sure the baby would be safe.

But, would the weight of guilt and a father's concern press more for the truth?

What would weigh a certain character to choose on such tough decisions such as this?

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    "I have trouble putting myself in a character's shoes" - this means that you don't know your character well.
    – Alexander
    May 2 at 18:32

3 Answers 3

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For your character, you have to consider the impacts of each decision, and his personality. If he doesn't really care about other people, and only cares about his own convenience, then he might lie, so he doesn't have to watch an old man cry.

To avoid pronoun confusion I'm going to give these people names: Father of the dead son is Allen, the dead son is Bob, the infant (Bob's child) is Charlie. Bob's companion, bringing the infant, is Dave.

If Dave does care about other people, like Allen and Charlie (which I guess Dave does or he would have dropped Charlie off at an orphanage rather than be burdened with this trip), then Dave will tell Allen all he knows.

It is sad news, but Allen will not then think Bob is an irresponsible jerk, out adventuring and saddling his own father with the care of an infant. Allen won't then resent Charlie.

Allen can stop wondering what happened to Bob, and embrace Charlie as a member of his family, in need. And when Charlie grows up, Allen can tell him whatever he deems fit. Maybe he wants the infant to grow up thinking Bob died a hero, or in an accident, so Charlie doesn't think Bob just abandoned him.

Charlie can be raised by Allen (his grandfather) knowing Allen is his grandfather, and a hero for taking over raising him. Even as a surrogate father, Allen and Charlie can form their own father-son love relationship.

I would write that. Dave does the tough thing and tells the truth. The grief will fade and heal. If Dave lies and Allen feels betrayed and exploited by Bob, the lie can ruin two lives.

You have to decide if Dave is the kind of selfish and self-centered person that would risk that, just to avoid an hour of discomfort in telling the truth.

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    This is the answer I needed to hear. Thank you. May 3 at 4:52
  • Thanks the checkmark. You can upvote all the answers you thought were helpful, and you should. Even if answers are not chosen, the ten points for providing you with an answer is encouragement to the community to continue providing answers. Like I upvote all the questions I think were worth getting an answer, whether it was my answers or not.
    – Amadeus
    May 3 at 11:36
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    Lying in this situation doesn't have to be a sign of selfishness. It could be an act of compassion (as described by OP), rooted in Dave's own denial about his friend's death, or any other reason. Neither decision is good or bad, but it will say a lot about Dave.
    – Llewellyn
    May 3 at 18:21
  • @Llewellyn I disagree. I don't consider it "compassionate" to withhold that information, unless Allen's death is imminent. Dave wants somebody to take care of Bob's child, and whoever that is, including Bob's father, they should know they are performing an act of self-sacrifice for a good reason, not being saddled with a son because Bob did not want him. In this circumstance, Dave would not be "compassionate" at all by letting Allen believe a lie, or letting Allen (and perhaps Charlie with him) hope for a lifetime that Bob would return. Or even letting Charlie think Bob did not want him.
    – Amadeus
    May 3 at 18:48
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Whatever Serves the Story:

You are the writer, and you know what you want the story to do. Does it follow the kid, grandpa, or the friend? How do you want your MC to feel, what do you want them to know? Either way, the character may be regretful, angry, at peace, or something completely different. What makes your story flow go where you want?

If you haven’t decided where the story is going, pick what will make the most drama. Does the friend stay with the grandpa distraught with loss to protect the kid? Does the kid grow up believing his father will return someday?

Either way, it’s your decision. Do what’s fun.

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What is the worst choice he could make because it is the right thing to do?

You say have a hard time walking in the character's shoes, that usually means the character isn't defined enough. This question should help you define them. What is the worst thing the character could do for a good reason?

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