Character Profile: Ben

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Get to know Ben, one of the main characters in the Saviour’s Path series. Light spoiler warning. Although Ben is a charmer with a lot of integrity, he has a lot of personal challenges that make it difficult for him to always do what he knows is right. He’s tired hurting those he cares about and just wants to know how he’s supposed to live his best life. Sometimes, he ends up turning to the dark side in ways he never thought possible.


Sometimes, Ben has a lot of self-loathing for himself. He gets confused about his dreams and goals and whether he deserves anything good. He feels that he has a lot of atoning to do for his past, particularly because of his addictions and the fact that he has destroyed and ran away from any meaningful relationships. He feels that there’s something missing inside himself, and he tries to fill that with drugs, alcohol, sex, and humanitarian work, among other things. Despite his funny, charming, caring, and devoted nature, he sees himself as damaged and unworthy, but still strives for what he wants and does his best to be a better person.

Character Profile

1.        Name:  Bennett Murray Goldberg

2.        Hometown:  Kirkby, Alberta, Canada

3.        Type of home/ neighborhood:  First lived in his family’s cabin in the woods, then moved around with his mother. When she died, he went to various foster homes, then graduated and travelled the world. His final home is Lanie’s family home, a basic modern five-bedroom at the quiet edge of town near the river.

4.        Relationship status: Eventually marries Lanie

5.        Current family: Near the end of the story, he has twin girls and an adoptive son

6.        Family background (parents, previous marriages, etc.): His mother had some drug problems but mostly intimacy disorders, and married his abusive father. She runs away from him a few times, twice with Ben. Once leaving one other child, and the second time leaving two other children. His father hated him because of his light-grey eyes. Since everyone else in the family had dark brown eyes, his father believe that his mother cheated. Ben was often the recipient of abuse along with his mother, but his father treated his dark-eyed siblings reasonably well. Ben doesn’t remember his siblings because he spent so little time with them, and his oldest brother tried to hide Ben from their father when their mother died. Ben has had no previous marriages. The most serious relationship he had was with Lilah Anderson, but he ran away when he pushed too fast and things got too serious.

7.        Friends: In Somalia, Lena is Ben’s best friend. He also has a positive relationship with Mickey and Alison, and has a love-hate relationship with Damien. He’s also friends with Jake, even though he’s jealous of Jake’s relationship with Lanie.

In Canada, Ben is friends with almost all the characters, mostly through the church.

8.        Other close relationships: He’s pretty close with Dre and Lanie, and has a dubious but mostly positive relationship with Jake. He’s close to Pastor Anderson as well.

9.        Job: Engineer/architect/construction worker, tutor, chef, and many others since constantly obtaining certifications is one way he tries to fill the hole inside of himself

10.        Dress style: usually pretty casual, not a lot of layers. Usually short sleeves as he is easily overheated. He’s very fashion conscious and dresses to emphasize his desirable features.

12.        Hobbies: Self-care, fashion, guitar, cooking, baking, construction and design

13.        Favorite foods: Fast food, cookies, cake, cinnamon rolls. Generally not the healthiest diet, though he does enjoy home-cooked foods since he’s a chef. But he travels a lot so usually doesn’t have the time or tools to cook for himself, so eats a lot of convenience foods. He loves most international cuisine as long as it’s not too spicy.

14.        Strongest positive personality trait: Optimism (even if he gets depressed sometimes)

15.        Strongest negative personality trait: bouts of severe self-loathing

16.        Sense of humor: Very strong, silly, usually sunshiny and childlike. He likes to make people laugh, but can be misogynistic, dark or offensive.

17.        Temper:  Usually pretty easy-going and even tempered but when something big happens it Can range in extremes. He’s a passionate person so he can either be intensely angry or intensely happy, intensely in love, etc. Sometimes he can be unintentionally abusive

18.        Consideration for others: Usually quite high, though sometimes his attempts to make a joke or save his pride gets in the way. He spends a lot of time worrying about what others think of him, and generally wants to make his loved ones happy, even if it’s something they didn’t actually ask for or might not actually want.

19.        How other people see him/her:  Usually big and lovable, geeky and nerdy, confident, sex symbol, highly intelligent, and funny

20.        Opinion of him/herself: He sees himself as working hard to achieve a certain aesthetic. He’s not terribly conceited, and sometimes gets embarrassed when he gets too much positive attention for his looks. He’s at peace with his weight. He’s ashamed of his past and the way he’s treated women and thrown away his close relationships, including his last foster family that wanted to adopt him as an adult.

21.        Other traits, especially those to be brought out in story:  He’s very stubborn, especially when he thinks he’s doing the right thing. He’s usually not afraid to go against people he cares about and admires in order to achieve a greater good. His self-esteem can be a little shaky when it gets hit by people he loves. He also loves children. He’s usually not afraid to take risks and put his personal wellbeing on the line for others.

22.        Ambitions: He wants to have a job that enables him to use most of his training and experience, something that is varied and impactful. He also wants to make himself worthy of marriage and family, and settle down.

23.        Philosophy of life: Even if everyone else is telling you something is right when you know it’s wrong, don’t do it.

24.        Most important thing to know about this character: He wants to be happy and live a good life for himself and his loved ones, he’s just not sure that he deserves it or the best way to achieve it.

25.        Will readers like or dislike this character, and why?: I think readers will like him a lot, because he’s generally a good guy, if a little misguided, temperamental, and self-recriminating at times. He’s got a lot to learn, but when he gets knocked down, he gets back up again and tries to do better eventually. He also tries to encourage others to do and be better. He goes through a lot of internal and external crises, and has to battle a lot of demons on a daily basis, which I think a lot of people will identify with. He has to learn self-control and personal responsibility to overcome his explosive temper and abusive tendencies, but he’s not afraid to put in the work once he comes to term with the changes he wants to make in himself. Overall he’s a good guy.

26.        Father’s name, background, and occupation: Joseph Carter is ethnically Israeli/other Middle Eastern. He was an odd-job man, and did some basic construction work. He built the cabin in the woods. He was also a soldier and spent 20 years in the Canadian forces before being sent home with an injury that spurred his drug abuse.

More info

1.        Mother’s name, background, and occupation: Mira Goldberg is ethnically Lebanese/Indian. She doesn’t have a specific occupation, she was homeless when she met Joseph. She’s scrappy and determined, but has a minor drug problem. She has a handful of service jobs, including maidservice. Her last job before she died was at a grocery store. She also occasionally prostituted herself.

2.        Enemies: Ben doesn’t really have enemies, but he comes into conflict with Damien and Terrence in Somalia. When he’s home, his jealousy for Jake grows slowly, and eventually Jake snaps when Ben’s abusiveness gets out of control. Ben has a brief conflict with Sean. Generally his conflicts are internal/interpersonal as opposed to having a clear-cut enemy.

3.        Influential person or event: When his mother killed herself in front of him. 

4.        Leader or follower:  Kind of neither. He does his own thing, whether someone is leading or not, and he generally doesn’t seek leadership positions, he just happens to need to be a leader for the things that he’s interested in (i.e. teaching), but doesn’t really think about it.

Writing Character Profiles – Additional Questions

1.        If your character has a job, is he or she good at it? Does he or she like it? 

He loves most of his jobs, except that he needs to change often because he’s easily restless. He loves teaching and construction, as well as engineering. He does the things that he’s good at.

2.        What are your character’s bad habits?

Getting ahead of himself, talking too much when he’s excited, interrupting people, doing things without permission

3.        If you asked about his or her greatest dream, what would your character tell you?

His greatest dream is to have a big, loving family and a dynamic career that challenges and excites him.

4.        What’s a secret dream that he or she wouldn’t tell you about? 

Reuniting and making things right with his last foster family

5.        What kind of person does your character wish he or she could be? What is stopping him or her?

He wishes he could be worthy of the things he wants and not feel like an imposter. He wishes he were the kind of person who could have resisted the addictions and maintained close relationships without sabotaging them. What’s stopping him is that he can’t change the past, and sometimes he gets so obsessed with it that he undermines the present. He goes into a frenzy trying to fill up that hole, only making it bigger.

6.        What is your character afraid of? What keeps him or her up at night?

He’s extremely terrified of being abandoned. He’s deeply traumatized by his mother’s suicide, and being shuffled between foster homes. He’s scared of dying alone, and also that he might not really be lovable. He’s scared that he might be permanently damaged and worthless because of the things that he’s done, so he’s scared that this will extend to his family and other loved ones as well.

7.        What does your character think is his or her worst quality?

He thinks his worst quality is his propensity for escapism, whether through drugs or abandoning relationships.

8.        What do other people think your character’s worst quality is?

His self-loathing and mulish stubbornness.

9.        What is a talent your character thinks he or she has but is very wrong about?

BBQing. He usually over-or-undercooks the food, but thinks it tastes great. Same thing with campfire food. He’s also worse at drawing people than he thinks.

  1.         What did his or her childhood home look like?

Very chaotic. His father hated him because he believed his mother cheated with another man. In general his father was a hard man. His mother was flighty and temperamental, and ran away several times, including twice with him.  He has two brothers that he doesn’t remember because of how infrequently he saw them. His father often beat his mother and him. Both of his parents are high-functioning drug addicts, and his father is also an alcoholic. Then his mother kills herself and he has to go into foster care, going to about five different homes until he becomes an adult. His eldest brother tries to secretly protect Ben before dying, but his father goes behind his back and starts getting Ben into drugs when he’s a teenager, though he never reveals that he’s Ben’s father. Ben finds sanctuary in church, learning to play guitar, and participating in extra curriculars at school.

11.        Who was his or her first love?

Lilah Anderson. They met in Mexico during Ben’s freshmen summer of college, and did a charity construction project together. But he refuses to go back to Canada and marry her, mostly because he’s scared of commitment and is self-conscious about her faith. He feels like her family would never accept him.

12.        What’s the most terrible thing that ever happened to him/her?

Either having his mother kill himself in front of her or losing his wife and children for several weeks, or being deeply betrayed by one of his best friends.

13.        What was his/her dream growing up? Did he/she achieve this dream? If so, in what ways was it not what the character expected? If your character never achieved the dream, why not?

He had a lot of dreams and interests as a child and they changed throughout his life. He dreamed of being an architect/engineer, or a famous guitar rockstar in a band. He did end up being an architect and engineer and started his own firm, but quit the office job soon after to travel the world doing eco-retrofitting, tutoring, and humanitarian projects. He lost interest in being a professional musician but always had his guitar with him and plays basically every day. Eventually he becomes a pastor and the worship/youth leader at his church.

14.        In what situation would your character become violent?

He gets physically violent with Lanie a few times when his frustration with her goes over the top. He also has violent thoughts when she’s being threatened, though he doesn’t act on them.

15.        In what situation would your character act heroic?

He often acts heroic and sacrifices himself for others, especially when he realizes that he might have caused them to suffer in the first place. His “heroism” often gets him into trouble when it wasn’t asked for.

General Profile

Name Meaning: Blessed

Age: 34

Birthday: April 1982

Parents: Mira Goldberg, Joseph Carter

Children: Summer Goldberg, Sam Goldberg, Dre Folger

Writing style:  Lofty, inspired, curious, wandering

Mental disorders: ADHD, polyaddiction

General description:

Ben has a lot of insecurities and doubts, but after he gets committed to rehab in California and has a revelation, he makes a promise to God to try and live a clean life. At first, he tries to see how far he can push himself without technically breaking the promise. Later, he feels like he can legitimately let go of his old crutches and latches on to Lanie and her son, and devotes himself to being a husband and father, and continuing to search for God. He feels like all he needs is his family, but he soon learns that they cannot be the foundation for his life when he almost loses all of them. This breaks him to the point of returning to drugs and alcohol. Even when he gets that more under control, he becomes angry, abusive, and even violent, until he starts attending a program for abusive men through his church. Although he continues to wrestle with himself and his darkness, he slowly starts to feel the connection with God he’s been looking for, a lot more consistently. He starts to put his faith and trust in that, and his faith and healing grow. He gets into conflict with Lanie, who hates religion, particularly Christianity, but he usually stands firm and continues to grow. For a while, he feels like he’s got the life he’s always wanted, even if things are rough with Lanie sometimes, and even if the darkness still comes over him from time to time. His faith starts to slip when Lanie puts herself in danger by trying to bait her ex, Sean, and they get into a violent fight. After, he feels like a horrible person, and that niggling fear that he’ll never be free of the toxicity of his father. He does eventually bounce back and finally embraces the love of Jesus fully and sees himself as a new, redeemed person.

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“May the God of hope fill you with all joy and peace as you trust in him.”
~ Romans 15:13

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