by guest novelist Siri Mitchell
If character development is one of my strengths, then I have to admit that plot is a definite weakness. Plot is all about where a story is going. It’s the structure upon which any story ought to framed. Every plot should include a definite beginning, a middle, and an end. A traditional plot structure is comprised of incidents of escalating significance that propel the characters toward a crisis. And crisis—or conflict—is what novels are all about.
If novelists have any secret, it’s this: growth and change come through crisis or conflict. And tension is created by the gap between who a character is and who he or she ought to be. Novels are generally tales of becoming; they chronicle a journey.
At some point in a novel, the main character faces a choice. She can choose to live life the way it’s always been lived (stay with status quo) or she can choose to step out, step forward, and make a change. The reader generally has a bird’s eye view of this internal conflict and in most books, they root for change. If the novelist has done her job, the reader knows that the only way the character will find fulfillment is to step out of the ordinary and into the unknown.
Unfortunately, the unknown usually comes with complications, doesn’t it?
So where are you going? And what is the plot of your life’s story? Is it starting to get complicated? If so, try to look at your life through the eyes of a novelist. A novelist knows that people with real character can withstand life’s twists and turns. The novelist knows that only adversity can bring triumph. And the novelist knows that the protagonist at the end of the story is much stronger than the protagonist who began the story.
And here’s another novelist’s secret: no one wants to read about Jane Smith who gets out of bed one morning and does the same things she’s always done. They want to read about Jane Smith who gets out of bed one morning and decides to make a change. They want to read about characters who make choices. Characters who take risks. So go on, step out, and be that character! Be the protagonist in your life’s story. When the unexpected happens—and chances are it will—step up, not back.
Are you the protagonist in your story? Have you been plotting your life? Are you willing to take risks? Share with us a little about your story today?