At what price love?
What will they do to win the intended’s heart?
Or, find the killer? Save the family farm?
Or, if you’re a fan of Firefly, fly into the black where reavers dwelled. (Shudder!)
You must create a high wall for your hero or heroine to scale in order to achieve the dream.
It’s not about the wall. It’s about the internal journey.
The protagonist must come to her end, believe all is lost, then dig deep, find inner strength, and try one more time.
Scaling the wall is not in absence of fear, it’s in spite of fear. It’s the moment of truth with she realizes the lie is a lie. She wants to live by the truth.
Let’s look at a few examples:
Cinderella was locked in a tower when the king’s men came with the glass slipper. She had to find courage and stir up resources to get free. Otherwise, all was lost.
In Photogen and Nycteris, each one had to learn about the other side of the day. The day boy had to learn about the night.
The night girl had to learn about the day. Otherwise, their budding love would never work.
But the real obstacle, the biggest wall, was defeating the witch who enslaved them.
In Sweet Home Alabama, Melanie Smooter had to decide if she was going to give up the sophisticated, well-connected life by marrying the mayor’s son.
What about her promise to him? Her career? Her dreams?
The big wall in her life was could she trust the man she thought she divorced? Was it worth the risk?
Could she still have her career in NY while he managed a budding business in Nowhere, Alabama?
Melanie had another huge wall to scale. Her past. She wasn’t raised by rich Yankees.
Her parents were ordinary blue collar folks who lived in a double wide.
At the end of the day, could she had to embrace her country girl upbringing along with her big city sophistication.
Because that’s who she really was, in her core, her essence.
Melanie was a small town girl with big city smarts.
In the end, her black moments, was do I marry the man waiting for me at the altar?
Or do I marry the man who truly has my heart?
I know Hollywood makes it look easy, but it’s not so easy.
It’s hard to leave a man who loves you. Especially with a hundred folks looking on.
So, what is the wall your characters have to scale at the end? Write it down. Keep these things in mind…
1. Ask yourself, “What can the protagonist do in the end he can’t do in the beginning?” The bigger the fear/lie, trouble in the beginning, the bigger the wall in the end.
2. Create an emotional as well as physical barrier. What if your protagonist moved away from his family and the thing he can do in the end that he can’t do in the beginning is forgive his father. So he has to emotionally and physically travel there. Big wall to scale because it’s not like he’ll be with his dad watching Sunday afternoon football and go, “Um, yeah, dad, oh by the way…” The action of forgiveness is premeditated and that takes change in the protag. Humility.
3. Use walls like different faith, social norms, ethnicity, distance, time, family conflict, careers. I once met a Muslim boy dating a Hindu girl. They were struggling in their relationship because her parents were against it. Um, yeah. I didn’t have to be a history major to know those two religions from their home country, India, had a lot of conflict.
4. Different dreams and desires are huge walls. He wants children. She doesn’t. Huge wall to scale in your story. Who’s going to win that one? Who should win? How will they change?
Take a look at your story. What walls are their to scale? Are they high enough? Yeah? Good. Go back an add another brick!
Best-selling, award-winning author Rachel Hauck loves a great story. She excels in seeing the deeper layers of a story. With a love for teaching and mentoring, Rachel comes alongside writers to help them craft their novel.
A worship leader, board member of ACFW and popular writing teacher, Rachel is the author of over 17 novels. She lives in Florida with her husband and her dog, Lola. Contact her at: Rachel@mybooktherapy.com. Her next book, Once Upon A Prince, releases May 7!
Go forth and write!
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