Recently I was talking to my students about the two doors of story (for more on the two doors, read James Scott Bell's Plot and Structure). The first door is The Change that thrusts the character into the story. It's where the story actually begins. Before The Change we simply have introduction...of the main character, of important side characters or villains or love interests—whoever is logically located and important that early in the story, of the setting or world, of the rules of magic or law or ordinariness, and things along those lines. Sometimes the introduction is so brief it is practically a part of The Change. Sometimes there is a lot of setup before The Change.
Sometimes we see the story goal before The Change. But it's often more clearly expressed after The Change. That's when we really understand what the protagonist is trying to achieve or gain. That when the story embarks. It gets underway. It leaves the nest to build its own home. Gandalf marks the door and dwarves show up with a thievery plan. The Ring can no longer stay in the Shire. Bruce Wayne returns to become a symbol for Gotham. Dom Cobb takes one last job so he can return to his children. Echo Sackett arrives in town to collect her inheritance.
That when things get interesting. And complicated.
I was thinking about this, The Change, the first door. And I was thinking about my life. If my life were a story, how far into the tale of events would it be? The end? The introduction? The huge plummet before the resolution? Somewhere else entirely?
If I were writing a character based on myself—an early twenty-someone, aspiring but distracted writer, trying to help take care of her family though she is neither a wife nor mother, waiting for something to turn for the better but unsure if it will because many of her dreams have been crushed or forgotten, who is so confused as to where she is in life that she doesn't know how to navigate anymore—where would I put her in the story?
Actually, I would place her right before The Change, right before the first door where the story starts hopping along. Things would be building and falling into place, and I would set up a large story that she has no idea is about to happen. A grand, life-long adventure that would sweep her off her feet, build her up, break her heart, bring healing and unprecedented joy. She would take some steps that set her in the right direction, and the choices of others would send her on her way.
And I believe that I am a part of a story. A big story. Bigger than I'll ever author. It may not be exactly like I would plan it, but that's okay. That just means it'll be better. And it's far from over.
Did you know that Jesus is described as an author? I've recently been encouraged by Hebrews 6:9-12, 10:35-39, and 11:35-12:2.
Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.If we enjoy a story and think it's worthwhile, we like the author. Or, even if we don't like the author, we at least recognize that we like what they created.
Hebrews 12:1-2. (NKJ)
God is The Author, and real life is His story. If I would care enough about a fictional person to give her something good and use her to tell a compelling story, how much more will my Father orchestrate my life to be and to receive blessings that point back to how good of an author He is?