Fairytales: Scaling The Walls

k2047136The height to which your protagonist scale to achieve love, happiness or peace is the height at which your readers will love your story.

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!

Happy Writing!

OUPBest-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!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

The What and Why of Writing: Noble Cause

Every story starts with an Inciting Incident catapulting the hero and heroine into a journey. They’re either scrambling to get their lives back to normal or hoping to settle into their new life after some amazing “I never knew this could happen to me” experience.

Each scene you write is either an Action or re-Action scene. Your characters are doing something or responding to what happened. But the challenge is to write more than just he-said-she-said or he-did-she-did scenes. You want to layer in emotional depth – and one way to do that is to know your character’s Noble Cause.

What: The Noble Cause answers the question why? It’s the motivation that moves your character from chapter 1 to “The End.” Think of your protagonist saying something like this: BeCAUSE of my Noble Cause, I will Quest after something. (Thanks to our fearless leader, Susan May Warren, for that great way to remember what the Noble Cause is.)

Understanding a hero’s or heroine’s Noble Cause enables you to:

  • Create a multilayered character
  • Build stakes and tension
  • Maintain a strong Act 2

To help determine your protagonist’s Noble Cause, answer this question for them: Because of _____, my Noble Cause is to _____ by doing _____.

  • Know the defining moments in your character’s life.
  • Know what two values are expressed in the Noble Cause.

Examples: Here’s how I would answer the Noble Cause question for the heroine of my upcoming novel, Catch a Falling Star:

Because of how childhood asthma limited my life, my Noble Cause is to help other children live as normally as possible by being a family physician specializing in asthma and allergies. (Two values: family/children and freedom)

How could we fill in the Noble Cause question for Sandra Bullock’s character, Lucy, in the movie While You Were Sleeping?

Because of how I was left all alone after losing both of my parents by the time I was in my early twenties, my Noble Cause is to recreate a family by falling in love with the perfect man and getting married. (Two values: family and true love)

Consider your work-in-progress: What is your protagonist’s Noble Cause?


BethVogtisaJetsfanMBT’s Skills Coach, Beth K. Vogt provides her readers with a happily ever after woven through with humor, reality, and God’s lavish grace. Her inspirational contemporary romance novel, Wish You Were Here, debuted May 2012 (Howard Books.) Her second novel, Catch a Falling Star, releases May 2013. Beth is an established magazine writer and former editor of Connections, the leadership magazine for MOPS International. Visit with Beth at her website bethvogt.com.


Fairytales: Belief, Dream and Your Protagonist

dictionary-series-_~k7661777 You’ve probably figured out by now I’m learning as I write these fairytale post.
We’ll compile them, clean them up and offer them to you in book format one day.
Anyway, I’ve been reviewing my original, “this is a fairytale” list and it’s quite shallow.
We’ve covered a lot of what I initially thought to elements of fairytales but now I realize there are all kinds of fun elements.

Your protagonists, your hero and heroine must believe in something, someone, in values, in the goodness of humanity.
In CBA novels, they should believe in, have hope in, the goodness of God.
As I review novels from new writers, even from established ones, often the core belief system is missing.
This ties into the “secret desire” of the heart or as I liked to call it “true essence.”
Michael Hauge explains that characters move from identity to essence.
A character starts out in his or her identity – who they think they are – and ends up in their essence – who they really are – by the end of the story.
To do this, the protagonist must have a core belief in something larger than himself.
This belief is what motivates him to face his fears, overcome and win the day.
In the movie, Remember The Titans, Coach Boone believes in himself. His identity as a good football coach is bolstered by his essence, “I’m a winner.”
Boone’s problem in the movie is overcoming racism as well as his own pride. He’s so locked in his identity as a winning coach he can’t see that winning also includes leading and loving others.
But that’s where he is at the end of the story. Partnering with his assistant coach, Yoast.
It was belief that powered Boone through the pressure, the racism and the monumental task of uniting a black and white team.
He’s arrogant in the beginning, but he’s loving in the end.
And a winner.
Cinderella believed that one day her prince would come.
It powered her through the dark days of serving her family.
Snow White believed in innocence.
I love the quasi-symbol of the dwarfs as children. Snow White took care of them. They took care of her. There was a belief in the goodness and kindness of others.
It was confirmed to Snow by the mercy of the Huntsman who did not kill her as his queen demanded.
In Lost In Nashvegas, Robin McAfee battled fear of singing in public.
But her secret desire was to be on stage singing her songs.
The power of that desire – her belief in music – overcame her fear. Eventually.
Does your character have a core belief?
Is there a hidden essence? If not, work it out.
Contrast the greatest fear with the secret desire. Muse over the protagonist identity verses essence.
The belief doesn’t need to stand up and salute the reader as they scan the pages but it should be a driving force as you write the scenes.
What caused Snow White to go with the Huntsman? What caused her to trust the dwarfs? What caused her to trust the ugly old lady?
Her belief that all people were good. Her innocence.
In the end, one innocent kiss restored her life.

The dream comes from the belief.
“I can trust people, so my life will be good. Or restored.”
Cinderella believed her prince would come so she shouldered on, practically a slave in her own home, because belief fueled her dream.
Prisoners of war in the Hanoi Hilton harbored a dream that they would one day go home. What was their belief?
That they’d live through the day.
Those who focused on just living through the day and it’s hardships survived better than those who focused on the future of “someday getting out.”
The more time went on and they remained in prison, the more they lost hope and courage.
They broke. Even died.
So, the dream must be real but grounded in a belief.
“I can survive today.”
“I can survive the night.”
“I can win this football game.”
“I can go on this date.”
“I can sing one song in front of a small crowd.”
The dream is what makes you get up and say the same thing the next day!
The dream for your protagonist is that what dwells in their hearts, their essence, what they believe is true and will come to pass.

Take a few moments to identify and map out these elements for your characters.

Happy Writing

OUPBest-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 15 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!

Do you need help with your story idea, synopsis or proposal? How about some one-on-one craft coaching. Check out our menu of services designed to help you advance your writing dreams.

Taking The Next Step: Fast Drafting

As a newbie writer, I completed my first Fast Draft. I was elated.  I even did the happy dance.  I couldn’t believe just how much I learned and of course, I had to share.

Plot And Plot Some More!  For me, it was truly a timesaver and stress reliever to have the story plotted ahead of time.  I was really blessed; my friends helped brainstorm the story.  Then I used The Book Buddy to get my thoughts down.  It allowed me to have all the main points of the plot and the character development done before I sat down to write.  It cut down on some of the “blank-screen-staring” that so many writers go through.   At the same time, it still allowed me the freedom to change several scenes and add twists and turns to the story.  I had confidence starting out, that the main points needed for my wip was already plotted.

Perfectionist Be Gone! This was a fast draft, not my final draft. I had to remind myself the scenes weren’t going to be perfect, that’s what edits are for.  I got the scene down and moved on.  There were lots of asterisks with notes to go back and insert the missing pieces.  I didn’t want to get bogged down trying to stop and find a metaphor or describe the scene so I would insert and asterisk and write in “add metaphor” to keep going. It’s easier (for me at least) to revise a scene, than start with a blank page.

Find & Replace Word Search.  I realized I kept using the same word or phrase repeatedly.  I went back and did a word search afterwards.  It was almost embarrassing, but hey I caught them right?  Utilizing the find and replace feature in Microsoft Word helped.

Emotional References & Journal.  Sometimes I didn’t feel I captured the true emotion of what the character should be feeling.  There are several books that help give you a good starting point for basic emotional responses and I found it helpful to have that resource handy.  It gave me a starting point and a couple of times I pulled my own journal.  Reading my journal reminded me of my own emotional responses which in turn, helped me put it on the page.  Later I went back to refine.

Visual Reminders.  Since I am a visual person, I printed out a few visual aides to keep me from getting off track and meandering in my writing.  I posted them around my work area to keep me focused on the key ingredients for each scene.  The main visual aide I utilized was the Scene Starter Infographic.

By the way, I looked up fast drafting in the MBT Library and got information for help with fast drafting.  You can find it by clicking here.

What about you?  What have you learned from fast drafting?


A romance novel addict, Alena juggles life in the family business while mothering four zany kids. She ponders the beginning aspects of a writer’s life while enjoying real life with her family.