What Do Your Characters Learn From Their Climb?

Has anything ever happened to you that made you pause, and say, “Why me? Not again.”

It feels like there’s a black cloud hanging over your head because anything that can go wrong does. You’re always getting rained on. You start expecting the negative, and you’re not surprised when it happens.

Stop and reflect on a time when this happened to you a year or two ago. Did the event plunge you down a drain and swirl you out of control to the point that you thought you’d never find your way back? What happened? How did you feel at the time? Were you angry? Lonely? Frustrated? How do you feel now? Are you a better person as a result of that experience? What happened since those dark days? Did they make you stronger? How did it change you?

I believe that there are times when adversity is a gift. Our darkest moments teach us something. Sometimes it’s patience, strength, empathy, but at the time of our hardship, we can’t see good in anything. We don’t think we’ll make it out of it alive. Maybe we believe the worse. We certainly don’t think we need to be “taught” anything.

But when we’re at our lowest point there are ways to rise above. It makes me think of Miley Cyrus’s song, “IT’S’ THE CLIMB.”

I can almost see it

That dream I am dreaming
But there’s a voice inside my head saying
“You’ll never reach it”

Every step I’m taking
Every move I make feels
Lost with no direction
My faith is shaking

But I gotta keep trying
Gotta keep my head held high
There’s always gonna be another mountain

I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb

The struggles I’m facing
The chances I’m taking
Sometimes might knock me down
But no, I’m not breaking

I may not know it
But these are the moments that
I’m gonna remember most, yeah
Just gotta keep going

And I, I got to be strong
Just keep pushing on

‘Cause there’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be a uphill battle
Sometimes I’m gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

There’s always gonna be another mountain
I’m always gonna wanna make it move
Always gonna be an uphill battle
Somebody’s gonna have to lose

Ain’t about how fast I get there
Ain’t about what’s waiting on the other side
It’s the climb, yeah!

Keep on moving, keep climbing
Keep the faith, baby
It’s all about, it’s all about the climb
Keep the faith, keep your faith, whoa

Applying this to our characters

I think of this song when I’m plotting my character’s journey. I try to keep my character’s CLIMB in MIND. What happens to her ordinary world, the one she’s gotten so used to when her climb begins? How does she cope with the adversity, the change? When she’s in the thick of her mess how does she find her way out? Is she a heroine? Does she think of others before herself?

She doesn’t change over night. She can’t, because that’s not life. If she solves her problems right away it’s not believable. Take us on her climb. Show us how she stumbles on the rocks and slides in the mud. Show us how she fights for what she believes in so we like her. Have her take on the bully, the one who’s keeping her from doing good in the world. We want to root for her on her journey to her new status quo.

Applying this to our lives

If you’re struggling with something in your life right now, remind yourself of the other climbs you’ve had and how you’ve landed on your feet. Did it change you or someone you love? Think of adversity as a gift.

Keep the faith.

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Comments

  1. Robin says:

    I love that song. I think it’s in every single novel playlist I have. And I love the reminder that it’s not over in a day, for our characters or for ourselves. Sometimes, we need to make a decision that feels hard and scary, because we don’t know where it will lead. Better the devil we know, right?

    Love this reminder. Thanks, Michelle!

    • mark says:

      ,,,,things can go wrong when I make a brave decision and things can go wrong when I take the easy route. Which leaves only 1 logical path to follow. I just wish I was braver; or could stop thinking of such scary things to do! (the latter isn’t actually true).

  2. Great post, Michelle! A challenge to us personally as well as working with our characters.

  3. mark says:

    Michelle, really very impressive post, thanks. I’m gonna have a good think about it, Mark

Trackbacks

  1. […] Talk to your character. Pretend she’s sitting across from you sharing a cup of coffee. What EVENT happened in her past that contributed to her fear? Maybe the only person she ever loved was her father, but he died. Her greatest fear is loving someone too much and losing him. She guards her heart, refusing to fall in love again for fear of this loss. Maybe she believes God was responsible. Maybe she believes she was responsible. This is a lie, but nonetheless, she believes it. She won’t discover the truth until near the end of her CLIMB. (To read a past post on the climb, click here.) […]

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