Sometimes I feel like life is like writing a novel.
Goal: What does she want to do?
Motivation: Why does she want to do this?
Conflict: What is keeping her from accomplishing her goal?
Knockout: How does she overcome the conflicts to accomplish the goal?
In romance novels, it looks like this:
Lead: Your heroine
Goal: To get the guy
Motivation: Because he’s good looking, smart, kind, sensitive, she wants a guy . . . .fill in the blank.
Conflict: Here’s what makes a story stand out from the rest. After all, you don’t want every romance novel to be the same, do you? For our story, let’s say her father won’t allow her to marry until she’s 35 and well, she’s, hmmm . . . . .13? 8? 25? Each would present a different set-up.
Knockout: This part gets fun too. Our heroine could murder her father, marry the guy anyway, pray that God send a flash of lightening that changes her father’s mind, realize that Daddy is right and dodo brain isn’t for her after all, move out of her house to get out of her father’s abusive behaviors . . .
Pretty simple, huh?
Okay, let’s get real.
Lead: A 23 year old minister from St. Louis in 1847.
Goal: Our guy wants to establish churches in the Oregon Territory
Motivation: There’s no established churches in the Oregon Territory and he strongly believes folks will weaken in their faith if they don’t belong to a community of believers. Besides, he feels called of God to this mission field.
Conflict: He meets a girl. A girl of a different faith. An abandoned girl on the Oregon Trail. A girl who has a very different life goal.
Knockout: Are you kidding? Do you really think I would give away my plot line? But just think of all the possibilities! What do YOU think should happen?
Several people have asked me how I concoct a plot for a novel. This method (what James Scott Bell calls the LOCK method) provides a great outline to help me focus on where my novel is headed.
As I was going through this exercise for my current Work in Progress, it occurred to me that real life is made up of Goals, Motivations and Conflicts as well. I really want to publish a book. That’s my goal. And sometimes I get discouraged by the conflicts that seek to keep me from that goal.
Here’s my big flash of lightening. Just as the knockout creates ways for my hero or heroine to overcome the conflicts they face, we don’t have to allow the conflicts in real life to stop us from attaining our goals. In fact, just as an author gets pretty creative in her approach to those conflicts, we can be intentional and creative as well.
Here’s one chapter:
Goal: To get a book published.
Motivation: Um, that’s harder. What is my motivation? To make money? Nah. To get attention? I’m not that egocentric – I hope. For the feeling of accomplishment? Because I have a message I want to share with others?
Because I love to write and I’m a creative being who craves to express my creativity to an audience? Maybe I’m overthinking.
Conflicts: There’s a bunch here. My writing is still maturing and not stellar enough to drive an editor crazy, the market is tight, my busy life as a minister’s wife keeps me busy, Facebook and computer Solitaire are so tempting, worries about my families sap my energy, and my dog and the church secretary’s very cute baby lure me away from my computer.
In a good novel, goals can be external and internal. So I don’t run the risk of sounding trite, here’s one of my internal goal.
Goal: To influence others for Christ
Motivation: Because I love Jesus and long to share how Christ has relevancy for this life and life hereafter.
Conflicts: Others won’t listen, I get entangled with worldly pursuits, I’m isolated from impacting many people, just like my writing, I’m afraid of what people will think of me if I push my religion as they might accuse me of doing, I’m still a novice at this Jesus stuff and . . . the list could go on.
So, you say, tapping your foot, wanting to know the end of the story, “What’s your knockout?”
Sorry. If you were reading my novel, you could stay up to the wee hours of the morning, paying with bleary eyes and a sore neck to find out what happens. In life, we have to wait day by day. The knockout comes in the pages of our daily lives, the choices we make, and the way we allow the conflicts to shape us or strengthen us.
You see, I don’t have to sit back and allow life to happen to me. I choose to partner with God to overcome the everyday conflicts of my life by perhaps even some unconventional means. Then, as others watch, they will witness the knockout and say “Ahhh” as they read the final lines of my life. I want to make the denouement a good one.
I need to retrieve my legal pad and through prayer and pondering, devise creative ways to overcome those things that threaten to hold me back from my dreams. Obstacles will come, it’s part of life and the conflicts and how I as the Lead character of my story handle those conflicts is what makes the story worth watching.
I’m determined to make my life a best-seller, one that will shout God’s grace and glory to a watching family, community and world.
What will be your knockout? Make it a good one – one the world will notice. One that God’s “Ah” moment will follow with a “Well done, good and faithful servant.”