Think of your favorite book as a child. Was it a fairytale? A book of poems? Maybe a Disney book.
I remember reading a big book with lots of stories…including The Little Red Hen, that classic about selfishness. Actually, it was probably first read to me, because by the time I could read myself, it had well-worn pages.
One of my very favorite “Little Golden Books” was Disney’s Cinderella. In fact, I still have that book. A classic fairytale if there ever was one. My favorite characters were the mice!! When that story was put on the movie screen, I loved how the mice were voiced and the way they moved and scurried. What imagination the illustrators had.
My reading in those early years consisted of the usual: Snow White, Sleeping Beauty, Lady & the Tramp, Bambi, Dumbo. Disney all the way, I guess!
What do you remember most about the books you read, or the ones read to you? Was it the heroes, the adventure, the mystery, the moral? I loved it all, I think. It wasn’t until I was introduced to Nancy Drew that I focused in on mystery books, or adventure. But I’m wondering what sparked your interest? Can you recall?
Think of the hundreds of thousands of books that have been published through the centuries. How can they all be so different? How can they capture our attention and sometimes our hearts?
When you study creative writing, you learn there are basically only so many plots. That is why sometimes when you are watching a movie, or reading a book, you realize you’ve been down this road before and maybe it’s a tired re-working of an old idea. What makes a great book is how an author takes a concept that’s as old as time (good guy vs. bad guy/evil) and makes it all “new.”
Whether it’s cowboys and outlaws, knights and dragons, space ships and invaders, the elements of a story are the same. There is a main character with a goal, a reason why they need that goal (that’s motivation), and a person(s) who wants to keep them from their goal (that’s conflict). The conflict is what drives the story forward and keeps you interested. Conflict doesn’t mean fighting, it’s just something that is a stumbling block to the well laid plans of the main character.
Cinderella is the quintessential romance. A young woman, who sees herself as mistreated, seeks a better life and finds it with the handsome prince and lives happily ever after. You can put that story line into any number of books, movies and videos. Her goal is to work for herself; her motivation is to get away from her mistreatment; the conflict comes from the Evil Step-Sisters and Step-Mother. And the drama comes when the clock is running out and strikes midnight. Gasp! What will happen next? Will she survive? Will she overcome the odds? How will it happen?
We are all writing our own life’s story, aren’t we?
I hope we look at what our goal is, our motivation for reaching it and what conflicts may come as stumbling blocks along our way. There will be drama, no doubt. There may be sadness, and maybe despair. But we have the end of our book already written. We overcome. We survive. We win.
Remember your story is fluid. And God holds the eraser. Never think you cannot have a good ending. It is guaranteed.
by Cindy Best