Everyone needs a little inspiration from time to time. As a writer, I sometimes joke about inspiration, as in this E-Card I created:
Of course, as a writer, I actually know better than to sit around waiting for inspiration. I’ve learned to create my own.
We live in a world of inspiration. We have only to look at the beauty around us to find moments of breath-taking wonder and awe. We can draw inspiration, too, from the words of others — words of love, encouragement, strength, and determination.
Each day, I come to my little writing room, I sit down, and I tell stories. I write about people who’ve come into my head, about their lives, their struggles, their dreams, and ultimately, their triumphs and happy endings. They are imaginary people, yet they’ve become my friends. They’ve whispered in my ear, sharing the stories of their lives and loves.
In many ways, each of us is an author. You might not write fiction, but you are writing a story — the story of your life. With that idea in mind, I began browsing a bit.
I found this inspiring thought:
These are powerful words to remember. It’s up to us to create the life we wish to lead, up to us to develop our character, discover our strengths, and find the healing power of love. We can’t allow others to take control, to determine how our story ends.
Many of the ideas and principles I use in writing romance novels can apply as well to the art of writing our own life story.
All stories begin with characters. In fiction, good characters are imperfect; they have flaws. Yet they also possess a fundamental goodness. They make mistakes, but they do know the difference between right and wrong. They may be reluctant to reach out, but still, they do care about others.
In fiction, it’s important for an author to fully develop the main character. This means finding those flaws, helping the character acknowledge his or her weaknesses, and most of all, guiding the character through a process of transformation. Character development means finding strengths, too, and showing the character how to draw upon them, how to find courage and faith, how to love, and how to trust.
Often in writing a story, I find myself getting tangled up in lots of clever little sub-plots. At least, that’s how they first appear. Later, I realize they’re not so clever after all. They’ve taken the focus of the story away from what’s really important. They’ve created unnecessary complications for my main character. They’ve led me — and my characters –down pathways that go nowhere. There’s nothing of value to be found at the end.
In our own lives, we also get tangled up in awkward situations, wrapped up in worries that don’t rightly belong to us, and caught up in other people’s drama. I’m not saying we shouldn’t be there to support our friends and family during troubling times. I am saying that we need to maintain the proper perspective and draw lines when needed. Allowing ourselves to be swallowed up in another’s misery isn’t helping anybody. Not them. Not us.
Often, I submit scenes or chapters of stories I’m working on to the IWW — the Internet Writing Workshop — for critiques from other members. In return I read their submissions and offer my thoughts. We all like to think our prose is thrilling, our stories exciting, and our style so enthralling that readers will be unable to put down our book. As we’re writing, that’s how it feels. Thrilling. Exciting. Absolutely enthralling. But, it’s not. I’ve written my share of dull, boring scenes. It’s important to catch them, revise them, or take them out of the story altogether. I think it was Sam Clemens who once said:
Writing is life…with the dull parts taken out.
Take out the dull parts in your life story. Life is short, and each day is precious. Make the most of every moment.
Remember, too, that your life story will include conflicts and complications. In the tales I tell, my characters must encounter opposition. It’s how they grow, how they learn, how they discover the best within themselves. In the same way, each of us can learn from our past experiences and create a better future.
Much of my story-planning involves finding the way to happiness for my characters. I don’t like to begin writing until I know how the story will end. Love stories — at least, the old-fashioned variety that I write — always have happy endings. No matter how difficult the struggles, how far the characters have had to journey, how hard they’ve had to fight, they will find a way to triumph in the end.
Their happiness, however, isn’t a matter of chance. Over the course of the story, they’ve learned lessons about life, they’ve opened themselves up to love and to be loved, they’ve made difficult choices, and they have proved that they deserve their happy ending.
In the same way, you can find happiness. You can begin today to give and receive more love, to make the right choices, to demonstrate your own self worth. You do deserve your happy ending.
Faith often plays a role, as well. In romantic fiction, it’s not really the hero who saves the heroine, or, when the situation is reversed, the brave heroine who rescues who hero. Oh, that may happen in the story, but even when it does, the hero and heroine — together — usually find themselves facing a bleak, black moment. It’s the point at which all appears lost.
But miracles happen. As often as not in romantic fiction, divine intervention saves the day. Hearts are changed. Old feuds are forgotten. Forgiveness is granted.
Life is filled with opportunities for little miracles. Develop a strong faith, find the power you believe in, and expect good things to happen. Do all you can, and when you find yourself facing those dark nights when despair sets in, draw upon that faith. Expect a miracle.
Remember, too, that heroes and heroines in love stories are filled with doubts. When responsibilities are thrust upon them, they don’t often feel adequate to the task. They worry about failing, about letting others down. They’re painfully aware of their weaknesses, and they fear that others are better, stronger, wiser, and far more capable.
We all have doubts. But love is a powerful force. Find it, give it to others, share it with the world.
Write your own love story and create a happy ending.