In writing fiction, our characters transform in some way, as they struggle through conflict until they reach resolution, or they fail miserably, and they learn a lesson.
In Joseph Bates’ Writing Your Novel From Start to Finish- A Guidebook for the Journey, he explains that what makes a story “remarkable, even unforgettable”, is the way the “external motivation and conflict parallel, complicate, and deepen our understanding of the characters’ internal motivation and conflicts.”
He further says the events in the story, through which the characters persevere, “must come into direct conflict with whatever it is they want or value”. Bates asks; “ What would the outcome be if the character achieved his goal, or if he failed to achieve it?”
We, as individuals in real life, transform through our adversities and struggles. As Steve Harvey says in his video with Joel Olsteen; Let Them Go, July 1, 2021 ; “Every pain leaves a gift”.
“You grow through what you go through”. We struggle through the loss of loved ones, the end of romantic relationships or friendships we thought would last our lifetime, the closure of our career- or a job we loved, or through any decision which might alter our path. This is a part of life.
Rather than allow conflict or struggles to break us, or weaken us; just as the writer orchestrates the transformation of her characters in her story, the individuals in life, as Harvey and Olsteen note in their video, should recognize and embrace adversity as a blessing and a lesson.
In Bates’ novel, he likens the author to a sort of “God”;
An author is in a precarious position as a kind of “naughty God”. We ought to feel connection to our own characters, and hope on some level they will succeed, even as we’re the very ones making their lives difficult.”
This is not to imply God makes our lives difficult; he merely lays the ground work and allows us to find our own path, and if that journey is obstructed by challenges along the way, we should keep faith that in the end, wherever we land, it will be the destination God intended for us.
The fictional story we create, as writers, mirrors the non-fiction lives we live as human beings. The writer creates the conflicts through which our characters journey, as the characters grow stronger with each success, or failure. They embrace their successes, and they learn from their failures, which allows them to grow.
According to Dr. Wayne Dyer, internationally renowned author and motivational speaker, individuals who recognize the difference between living life according to the demands of their egos (looking at adversity as a negative), compared to the no-limit individuals who value the “divine I am-ness inside us”, recognize adversity as opportunities for growth and happiness, rather than as set-backs or dead ends.
He said the following, with regard to adversity and failures; The no-limit person uses his rejections and failures to reframe his thinking, or to go on to try other things. In other words, the individual who understands that the challenges he faces are meant to strengthen him, recognizes the blessing he receives from facing that difficulty. He feels blessed to get through it, and to come out on the other side as an improved, learned or better person because of it.
Our characters will possess some degree of clear wants, goals, ambitions or a quest, in order to grow. We, as individuals, experience adversity when we desire a relationship with our families , our friends, our co-workers, our neighbors or a romantic partner. We experience adversity when we have a professional, educational, or personal goal and something gets in our way.
Bates says “ A character with no clear want can’t ever be in a state of conflict (because there’s nothing to be in a conflict against), and a character who’s not in a state of conflict has no opportunity to change, as there is no conflict to resolve.”
As I have stated in the past, as so many writers teach, writers write to question, to explore, to discover, to share and to reflect. We write to connect with our readers, to mirror the complexities in our lives, and to help our readers recognize the blessings and lessons we all gain from those struggles.
Just as our fictional characters grow through their conflicts and struggles in our made up stories, individuals in real life have the power to grow emotionally, mentally, spiritually, intellectually, and even physically, as we face adversity, and come to understand and appreciate just how much, and how blessed we are to be able to, grow through what we go through.