Tuesday, March 9, 2010

Character sketch: Reverend Dave

The Rev. David Douglas, or Reverend Dave as he's known to his friends, is the 44-year-old minister of the fictional Northmoor United Methodist Church in Peoria, Ill.

He's friendly, engaged and always happy. Except when he's not. Reverend Dave is a doughy man with dirty-blond hair and somewhat stooped shoulders, as though he's carrying the weight of the world on them. And sometimes, he is.

Reverend Dave counsels men at his church on the evils of Internet porn and elicit sex, all the while ignoring his own long-suffering wife's needs. He loves God and golf, and not always in that order. He's prone to spells of egotism and aloofness and cares very deeply what his flock thinks of him.

But through all of his faults, Reverend Dave is a good guy. Like most of the characters in The Devil You Don't Know, he's fighting his own personal demons. Not unlike all of us. And instead of making him unlikeable, I like to think his personal battles eventually make him more likable, more like we are.

The thing I like most about Reverend Dave is that no matter how much he wants to run and hide from life, when someone needs him, he's there for them. No questions asked. He's trustworthy. I like that in a person. And since I liked Reverend Dave's character, I gave him the gift of trustworthiness.

So when Dave's God calls for his service -- and quite possibly his life -- Dave answers the call. And boy, does he find himself in a terrible predicament. Poor guy. I really put him through his paces in the novel.

Will he survive? Will his faith, fragile as it sometimes is, prevail in the end? Ahem. You'll have to read the book, of course. Provided it's ever published.

Here's Dave's first vignette within the body of the manuscript (he also appears in the short prologue, along with the other main characters). It immediately lays out his personality, his, um, problems, and his hypocrisy. Be warned. There's some adult words and situations in the section below.



Saturdays were Reverend Dave’s one day off, which he earned by busting his hump on Fridays to finish his weekly sermon. He would deliver his message, timed precisely to twenty-one minutes, to the Northmoor United Methodist Church congregation on Sunday morning.

Dave liked to add a dash of topical humor to his sermons and spent a great deal of time scouring the Internet for obscure facts, which he sprinkled throughout his folksy message. The flock loved it, except for the occasional complaint from some of the older women who liked their religion straight up.

The forty-four-year-old minister—happily married and the father of two little ones, Devlin and Dottie—had long ago learned the Internet was a gift from God when it came to theological research.

It was also a tool of the Devil. He’d learned that just recently.

“We’re off,” Pam said, leaning down and kissing his cheek. She was taking the kids to the mall for some shopping before catching the latest Harry Potter film at the Mega-Plex.

“Bye, babe,” Dave said. “Don’t spend too much.”

“Oh, don’t worry.” She fished around in her purse for a wet-nap and wiped the macaroni and cheese from a squirming Dottie’s face. “I just need a couple of outfits and the kids need new shoes for the holidays. If you get hungry, there’s lunch meat in the fridge.”

“I’ll make a sandwich later,” he said, sitting back and firing up his computer. Buddy hustled to his spot under the desk and promptly fell asleep. “I figured I’d do some research first.”

The doughy little minister had already forgotten the weird explosion from last night, chalking it up to exhaustion. He really needed to get to bed earlier.

“Have a good day, Daddy,” Devlin called as they trooped out the door and into the attached garage.

As Pam’s car pulled out, Dave visited the church web page, where he would post tomorrow’s sermon once second service ended. After spending a couple of minutes there, he clicked on the United Methodist Church’s worldwide site for any updated news. He then spent some time reading about his other passion, golf.

But after about five minutes, he felt the familiar tug of a darker passion. Heart pounding, he held it off for nearly two minutes before giving in. That was about a minute longer than he usually did.

Hot amateur webcam babes! the website announced. Teens spread for you! and Fuck me, Daddy! were his next Internet destinations.

Red-faced and breathing heavily, he grimly reached his right hand into his pajama pants and silently asked God to forgive him.


IN REAL LIFE: I had a great day revising today! I knocked off a chapter and a half and completely reworked one key scene near the middle of the manuscript. All in all, a very good day.

COMING TOMORROW: Kris Reed, wife of main character Michael Reed. While not a primary character, Kris ends up playing a key part in the overall plot. Oh, and she's smart and sexy and I have a huge crush on her. I think you will, too.


  1. So, preacher-man named his kiddo Devlin. I'm sure there's a Rorshach dot that explains that kind of thing. ;-)

  2. I love this description: "The doughy little minister"

  3. Great character and I love how you end the passage with the word, "Again." Sounds like you're back on track, good for you!

  4. Fantastic post. Thanks for sharing.