“This is the joy
And it’s the pain
And all the pages in between
Your finest hour
Your weakest moment
It where you’ve been
It’s where you are
It’s where you’re going”
Where should we begin if we want to tell our real, wholehearted stories? What can help us create quality connections with others? Could our wholehearted stories support honesty, truth and understanding in our lives? If we want to base our relationships on a sense of real worthiness and trust – how do we make that happen?
I love writing and if we are talking about getting to the heart of our story then I need to dig deep. What are the ingredients of a well told story? How do the bestselling authors build real connection between their main character and readers?
Given that you are the main character in the story of your life and those you meet and interact with are your readers how can your story best be told? How can you make it real and powerful? What story would help those you meet understand you better, connect with you emotionally and even empathise with you? What is going to help us understand each other?
Can the classic ingredients of a well told story be good ingredients of my wholehearted story? Can we mix together the power of creativity, real humans, deep thinking and deep feeling, bravery and strength, achievements and struggles, sensitivity while daring greatly, disappointments and love as well as the heart and soul of my real life adventures, which is ALL in comes together to form our lives?
This sounds exciting already! Could I be a good protagonist in a well told story? Could any of us be?
So I started my research, seeking to discover the ingredients of a real, well told story?
And I found an explanation of a Five Essential Story Ingredients that we could focus on.Ingredient #1: Orientation
This is when the main character and their circumstances are introduced. This is the moment when readers have an opportunity to emotionally connect with the protagonist.
The author says “Whatever portrait you draw of your character’s life, keep in mind that it will also serve as a promise to your readers of the transformation that this character will undergo as the story progresses.”
One of the main ingredients of the wholehearted story is therefore a real connection between the main character and those who listen /read the story. They follow if they feel attached and maybe on some level similar to the main character. They listen if the story helps them to understand and then to care about the protagonist or if it helps them learn something new. The story could begin normally but…
“Please note that a normal life doesn’t mean pain-free life.”Ingredient #2: A life changing event
The world of the character is turned upside-down. The challenge cannot be immediately solved and the protagonist must face their new circumstances and find the way forward that sets the movement of the story into motion.
“Depending on the genre, the crisis that alters your character’s world might be a call to adventure—a quest that leads to a new land, or a prophecy or revelation that he’s destined for great things.(…) it might be a new assignment to a seemingly unsolvable case. In romance, the crisis might be undergoing a divorce or breaking off an engagement.”
Could these be real life events that can shake up anybody’s lives and potentially change it completely? Absolutely! In each case, a life is changed and it will never be the same again.
We all have such experiences but we are not always prepared to share our wholehearted stories about them with someone we trust. These are facts of life and they happen to some degree to all of us. A wholehearted living means showing up (like the main character in a novel) possibly wounded and scared but moving forward and pushing through to see a brighter future.
Do we all dream of happy endings? Of course!Ingredient #3: Escalation
A well told story means that the main character is flexible and adaptable to circumstances. Whatever happens they face the event and do their best to push forward. In order to find solutions the main character would use their connections, knowledge and skills or draw from previous experiences to find a solution.
Isn’t that what we do in life?
“When you throw him into the crisis of the story, he is forever changed, and he will take whatever steps he can to try and solve his struggle—that is, to get back to his original shape (life before the crisis) (…) he’ll always be a different shape at the end of the story than he was at the beginning.”
So if “Plot is the journey toward transformation.” every challenge you get through enables you for future struggles. And probably in a fictional story, the protagonist has to face difficulties, come out unsuccessful but then eventually win over unfavorable situations. In life we can never be sure. What we know however is the change and transformation that happens in all of us as a result of what we experienced. Did we learn enough? Did we take time to notice all that happened and how it shaped our new thinking and approach? Do we value ALL experiences equally? Every experience is a lesson and so all are valuable.Ingredient #4: Discovery
This is the moment in the story when the main character experiences an epiphany. What follows is a long – awaited change of events or way of thinking. But what’s important to know is that “The protagonist’s discovery must come from a choice that she makes, not simply by chance or from a Wise Answer-Giver. While mentors might guide a character toward self-discovery, the decisions and courage that determine the outcome of the story must come from the protagonist.”
Don’t we all experience those “Aha!” moments every now and then? Those moments of out-of-the-blue, spontaneous creative insights, the light bulb over the head of a cartoon figure means the discovery of the solution or an idea that has not been yet considered. This is the moment when we are able to make great progress. Even though we are wounded, we survive a bad day, a bad month or even a bad year by self-discovery and making courageous decisions. If you are reading this, your track record of getting through bad days in style is so far 100% and that’s pretty good.Ingredient #5: Change
“As a result of facing the struggle and making this new discovery, the character will move to a new normal. The character’s actions or attitude at the story’s end show us how she’s changed from the story’s inception. (…)The old way of life has been forever changed by the process of moving through the struggle to the discovery and into a new and different life.”
This is my story. I am a storyteller. My goal is to give life to my story. I want to tell it, showing honesty and truth. I don’t want to fill the gaps or make things up just for the sake of adding structure. I am different than I was 5 years ago; I am different than I was yesterday. The changes that have happened adds to the wholeness and richness of me and my real wholehearted story. I cannot possibly be the same. I choose to change.
Our lives have perfect elements of well told stories. They can be perfect tales of adventure, beautiful romance, quests, brave achievements or unbelievably funny comedies. Sometimes all in one day. We are ideal characters to show up and push through struggles that we are facing. We have readers/listeners of our stories and they are the people in our lives. We can choose to live in a way that helps others connect with us and empathise. We can live wholeheartedly and through our story support others.
It is true that real life is not a fiction. It does not always have a happy ending. But we can change it and shape it as we go along because we are not only the main character but also the writer and the storyteller.
Inspiration and quotes: Writer’s Digest
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