Four Faces


“The Japanese say you have three faces. The first face, you show to the world. The second face, you show to your close friends, and your family. The third face, you never show anyone. It is the truest reflection of who you are.”

— Unknown


One might call them faces, or perhaps one might call them masks, a topic I’ve already delved into before:

We all wear masks. We laugh at jokes that aren’t funny and alter our personalities to fit in with whatever group is surrounding us at the time. I envisioned a masquerade ball. Everybody around me wore beautiful, light-weight masks of satin and sequence, brightly colored and innocent. My mask was made of iron and was slowly suffocating me. I think for many people, the mask they wear is who they want to be, who they pretend to be. Who they are is inside. In my case, it was the opposite. I felt like who I was was that mask, and all I wanted to do was shed that skin.

Read the full post “Welcome to the Masquerade” here.

This unknown quote about the three faces embedded itself in my mind like barbs. The more I pondered it, the more entranced I was by how it could relate to writing, although I would propose that we actually have four faces: the face the world sees, the face your friends and family see, the face you adorn in the privacy of solitude, and the face that is your own perception of yourself — a face no one else can ever witness.

How can this be applied to writing? In my never-ending endeavor to better myself as a writer, I am constantly reevaluating my characters. In my early days as a novice, I felt my characters lacked variety, and so I focused my attention on giving them unique qualities and backstories. I examined their speech patterns, their dialects, their vocabulary, their attitudes, their values, their motives. I became a reporter and explored how different characters would respond to the same question. And as a result, they evolved from cardboard cutouts to individuals that were real enough to, in many cases, talk without even needing a tag to identify which character had spoken.

Now, I’m looking at their “faces,” or layers. How does my councilwoman’s demeanor shift from when she’s sitting at her desk alone in her office to when she’s standing in front of a microphone facing a crowd of people? Then put her with her family, and we should get a different picture of her again. How does her thought process change? Tone of voice? In solitude, is she less confident with her decisions than she is with an audience? How does she conceal her vulnerabilities?

Writers can develop “faces” with a plethora of tools ranging from facial expressions, to actions and split-second decisions, to opinions, to a character’s innermost thoughts and worries. Consider how the observable reactions that other characters can witness might reinforce or juxtapose internal reactions that only the reader and the character herself are privy to.

It’s easy to focus on one or two faces, but in reality, each face is another facet, and neglecting the others will only limit the dimensions of the character. The goal is to make your characters as realistic and relatable as possible. Peel back their layers and see what the faces look like underneath that outermost mask.


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I'm an award-winning fantasy author, artist, and photographer from La Porte, Indiana. My poetry, short fiction, and memoir works have been featured in various anthologies and journals since 2005, and several of my poems are available in the Indiana Poetry Archives. The first three novels in my Chronicles of Avilésor: War of the Realms series have received awards from Literary Titan.

After some time working as a freelance writer, I was shocked by how many website articles are actually written by paid "ghost writers" but published under the byline of a different author. It was a jolt seeing my articles presented as if they were written by a high-profile CEO or an industry expert with decades of experience. I'll be honest; it felt slimy and dishonest. I had none of the credentials readers assumed the author of the article actually had. Ghost writing is a perfectly legal, astonishingly common practice, and now, AI has entered the playing field to further muddy the waters. It's hard to trust who (or what) actually wrote the content you'll read online these days.

That's not the case here at On The Cobblestone Road. I do not and never will pay a ghost writer, then slap my name on their work as if I'd written it. This website is 100% authentic. No outsourcing. No ghost writing. No AI-generated content. It's just me... as it should be.

If you would like to support my work, check out the Support The Creator page for more information. Thank you for finding my website! 🖤