The underlying values

When we say something is good or bad, we're basing that on an underlying set of values.

In this snippet, the narrator likes athletic training—but why do they think it's good?

What kept me going was the empowerment of it. I had found a way to show what was possible outside and alongside my disability. The thing that I loved so much about what I was doing was that I could present ability alongside disability – and that is a whole other kind of cool.

The narrator values empowerment. They probably like anything that provides empowerment.

And they say that, in athletics specifically, they could present ability alongside disability—which is even more cool than normal empowerment.

We said we often evaluate using adjectives such as good, bad, or average.

In contrast, underlying values tend to be expressed with nouns or verbs and processes:

  • Nouns: I value... empowerment, justice, enjoyment, meaning, service, education, environment, family...
  • Verbs/processes: I value... presenting ability alongside disability, running, playing music, getting takeaway instead of making dinner...

What values determine how the narrator judges their clothes?

What we most loved about our new clothes was the opportunity to make our neighbours look like trash. We'd been competing with the den Houts since they moved in, but what we really wanted was the chance to take them out of the game once and for all—and these new outfits were like barrels of gunpowder waiting to go off.

What values drive the narrator's attitude toward skating?

It's all about the weightlessness. All you need is a plank and some wheels and you can fly. When I feel like life is too heavy, I love to glide out from underneath it—it's easiest way to escape.

Imagine something your character either likes or dislikes. 

Then go one layer deeper and have them explain why they like or dislike that thing: what is it deep down that they value?

Write a snippet in which the narrator describes an underlying value.

We've seen narrators making valuations of degree, as in: this is good, that's great, that's bad, that's worse.

But there's another type of evaluation we do, which involves classifying things in discrete buckets.