It’s easy to recognize a good story when we read it. But it’s harder to realize that our own lives are stories too.
When we read a story, we want our hero to face challenges, danger and mystery. But in our own lives we want everything to be easy and straightforward. We cry when we experience set backs. We throw tantrums when we don’t get what we want on the first attempt.
Every story starts with a problem. Without a problem, there’s no need for the hero to act. If there’s a problem in your life right now, you should be glad. It marks the start of a great adventure!
Good fiction comes in three parts and follows a series of well-defined beats. A story has ups and downs. It doesn’t travel in a straight line. That would be boring. The hero must face challenges and overcome them. The hero must demonstrate qualities like courage, persistence, generosity and kindness.
Sometimes in life we experience disasters. They come out of the blue and knock us flat. Often they come on top of other problems. In fiction, these are called “catalysts” – they are an opportunity for the hero to change. Will the hero decide to make that change? Of course! Otherwise there would be no story! But the hero must spend some time agonizing and despairing before making that decision, otherwise it won’t feel significant.
So if your life is full of problems, disaster strikes, and you just don’t know what to do next, then rejoice! You’re about to enter Part Two of your story.
Part Two is full of ups and downs. You’ll meet new people, visit new places, learn new skills. You’ll make enemies too, and face hardships. But eventually you’ll achieve some success. This is the midpoint of your story. It’s sometimes known as the false victory! Ha! This is where the stakes are raised and the bad guys really start to close in. If you thought things were tough before, they will get a lot worse now!
You can’t have a knockout ending to a story unless the hero has a dark, all is lost moment first. Here the hero is allowed a moment to wallow in defeat, pity and self-blame. Very often that dark moment comes immediately before victory is achieved. Those are the best stories.
Sometimes the hero needs a friend or mentor to show them the key to victory. But you know what? In the end the hero wins because of all the trials and tribulations they’ve been through on their narrative journey. They use the skills they’ve learned on the way. They overcome their internal problems and by changing themselves, they are able to change their situation. How empowering a thought is that? Why wouldn’t we want that for our own lives?
So if life is getting you down and everything seems to be against you, remind yourself that the next chapter will be better and that this is just one step along your own personal story.
Every life is a story, and every story has a hero. What’s your story? Comedy, tragedy, mystery, thriller? Maybe even an erotic dystopian vampire romance?Whatever your story, live it to the full.