These days, experiencing a (worldwide) pandemic feels like an excerpt from a novel, not our real lives. How are we supposed to cope? What do we do when the world goes crazy around us? Well, we can be like characters in a book, we can start where we are and realize we are on a journey. We will be building character, as we live each real-life day. Each new day can feel like a fresh new page to write on. We can use our words to paint beauty. We can use our experiences to create a pathway for us.
In a book, especially if the author uses the omniscient point of view, as a reader, you know exactly what the character is thinking, and what motivates them too. Being real is so understated. But by honestly accepting how we feel, we aren’t saying, we want to stay in a certain mood. We are just acknowledging feelings we probably need to address and process. But first of all, we have to be open and claim these feelings, before we can deal with them.
REALIZE WHAT OUR MAIN CONFLICT IS
In a story, the plot is driven by conflict. Usually it’s between the character and another character; between the character and a machine; between the character and a beast; or inside the character themselves. A crisis, puts a microphone to these conflicts we already have going on. For example, married couples often have conflicts based on differences, say he is very carefree and she is ultra careful… in this Pandemic situation, she may be highly concerned about all the face touching he is doing. Whereas, he may be amazed by her obsession to clean and disinfect everything. She may be a night owl, and he an early bird. Or, she may be health conscious, while he doesn’t care anything about fitness or eating healthy.
When crisis hits, these areas often light up; escalating potential conflict. Conflict can be a source of tremendous growth in a book, for it’s what drives the character to change. The contrast between characters can also create humor as well. Say she-Miss Tidy Bed, likes to make their bed super tight … and he-Mr. Fluffy/Tousled Bed comes along, after she makes it he grabs her around the waist and tackles her right in the middle of the freshly made bed! That clash can be the making of a war, or some of the best humor there is… if we let it. It’s all in how we choose to handle conflict.
WHAT MAKES YOU YOU
Writers spend hours creating character sketches. These consist of subconscious and conscious traits their characters possess. Writers create thick folders with details from the character’s eye color, talents, gifts, sports they play and watch, what church they go to, or if they go to church, favorite books, magazines—- to city of origin, experiences, and favorite past times. We get to see some of these aspects come through in the character by the way they speak to others, deal with situations, relate with superiors and those under their authority.
Crisis creates a magnifying glass to examine what makes us who we are. Often the answer is, we are what we repeatedly do. Or, we are often shaped by our habits. What are your habits? What makes you who you are? Are there areas you want to change, are there things we want to become? Then, it seems like the natural thing to develop that habit. I know playing an instrument isn’t easy. It’s not something you can just do, without some element of study and practice.
What are areas of character development you wish you had, areas that may be surfacing right now, like a festering splinter? It’s a pretty good time to examine these places, and look at habits we can develop in the future, to achieve these goals.
CREATE A SIZZLING STORYLINE
Fear is a real threat to the plot line of our lives. Often I’ve felt its’ presence, before attempting something new, or before a great opportunity emerges. If every character in a book gave fear its’ way, the resulting storyline would be stale… boring. But face the giant, and you have the story of David, a young boy, who eventually plays his music in front of the King of a country, and publishes his songs in an international bestseller; not to mention, becoming king himself. Imagine the world without the story of David and Goliath. Imagine your life without you facing your giants.
WRITE FROM THE CONCLUSION
What’s the best part of the book? The ending of course! It’s where the underdog team comes from behind and charges across the end zone. It’s where the heroine finally kisses her true love. It’s where all the intricate storylines converge into a satisfying climactic moment. So, that’s where we can start, in life… looking at what our goals are… where we want to finish. It creates a goal, a dangling carrot for us to follow. And even if that desired result doesn’t happen exactly like we hoped, we will, after all, have tried. Yes, we will have plot twists, and unexpected turns, and we have to adjust our goals, as our character develops and we start in new directions with new purpose, but knowing what we believe in, and directing our lives in that vein, helps to lead us through each day.
KEEP A SENSE OF ADVENTURE
In a book, adventure is vital, I think in life it is too. When we lose it, we get old and irrelevant. God help us all! I like the way a friend spoke of her greatest challenge. She said, I can’t wait to see what God does with this!
Right now this Pandemic may be one of the greatest challenges we ever face. I hope that I can keep a sense of adventure. I hope we can see the good all this can bring. I hope someday we each have a story worth reading. Keep believing the faith, hope in what is true, and love with all the love you got!