Sometimes I find something I wrote the year before and I need to share again! I remembered this post as I was trying to think of a cool catch line to use when I sign copies of my book. I hope everyone is having a blessed week!
ORIGINALLY POSTED IN MY PERSONAL BLOG 9/13/11:
Today I’m taking a break from preparing my novel for submission to literary agents. After working feverishly over the past week on my story’s synopsis (a two page breakdown of the plot from start to finish) I am pausing to reflect on the journey my characters and I embarked upon a little over one year ago. As an author, I enjoy reviewing how my characters developed through their story, especially through every conflict and plot twist weaved in and out of their complex lives—some events even I had not anticipated when first sitting down to write. This got me thinking, what makes a great story?
Consider what you love most about your favorite book.
For me, my first requirement is a character I can relate to—someone who, even if I’m not necessarily fond of his or her personality, I understand. I want to feel invested in that person’s life, both in struggle and triumph.
This brings me to my next requirement: conflict. Who wants to read a book where the main character lives the perfect, mundane life? Where nothing difficult ever happens? Wake up. Go to work. Come home. Go to bed. The act of typing those short sentences bored me to tears! We want our characters to suffer (sadistic, isn’t it?). We want to watch them overcome hardship. We want excitement, danger, tension, romance, fear, sadness, joy…we, as readers, want it all! The stories we can’t put down are filed with tension—stories that make us long in our hearts to know what happens next. When we come to the conclusion, we feel as though we’ve lived each and every emotion as if it were our own. Isn’t that the best feeling?
This brings me to my final requirement. I want…no, wait—I’m going to speak for everyone here and say that our human nature needs—a happy ending. I hate getting to the last chapter of a book only to realize that I’ve struggled along with the character, I’ve cried, and then—bam! Life still sucks. I’m going to be frank here—that just pisses me off. Maybe some of you like sad endings, but not me. I want resolution. I want, at very least, contentment.
Now, as I struggle to plot the lives of my characters—throwing circumstances into their paths that I, as the author, know will ultimately bring them to their happy ending (even though they cannot see it yet)—I realize that I’m playing God in my own little way.
Sure, I didn’t have to give my main character in Changed, Maddy, incurable cancer with only a few months to live. I could have provided a doctor who worked scrupulously to get her the treatment she needed. But that plot would not have taken her story where I needed it to go.
Was she upset? Of course…I needed her upset! Did she understand? No, of course not! Most of the time our growth, both spiritual and emotional, occurs as we work through our struggles, not in the outcome.
Did Maddy learn, grow, change, and find true love in the process? (Spoiler alert) YES! Did she come to a faith and understanding she never had before? YES! That’s what I needed her to do. I love my characters like my children. I both loved and hated putting her in challenging positions, but I needed to put those struggles before her in order to move the plot forward. Maddy needed to be diagnosed with cancer in order to grow.
Ok, so now I’ve provided a mini “How To Write A Great Story” lesson, but you’re thinking, “Kirsten can’t be done yet. She always mentions God and faith somewhere in her blog.” Yep, you’re right.
Being an author has provided me great insight into how God writes a story for each and every one of us. No wonder He created us! It’s fun to invent someone, have that person struggle then watch him or her grow (parents can understand this point too). Through this epiphany I’ve come to a few conclusions about God the author:
- God is writing an amazing story and like every great author, He is invested in that story AND He is invested in you, the character. God, the author, loves His characters!
- God loves watching His characters grow through internal and external conflict. It is this conflict that moves the plot forward —plus, it keeps things from getting boring.
- God looks to use your story not only to grow your faith, but to inspire others who are watching it unfold.
- God always wants our story to have a happy ending.
So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, or you find yourself asking,“Why God? Why is this happening to me?” remember yourself as a character in God’s novel. God is taking you where you need to be. Plus, if you never experienced conflict, the story of your life would just be plain boring. He wants you to have excitement, danger, tension, romance, fear, sadness, joy…He wants you to have it all. Embrace your struggles (which I know is easier said than done). Remember that you are growing, and in a few more chapters, you will see the plot unfold. Have faith in your happy ending!