Monday, November 15, 2010

Spiritual Journeys of our Characters, Part 4 by Susan May Warren

This Manuscript Monday, Susan May Warren concludes her series on the inner journey our characters get to travel (lucky them!). What a pleasure it's been hosting her. Enjoy!

Spiritual Journey of our Characters Series, Part 4*
by Susan May Warren

Now that our hero has confronted his Black Moment and seen the light, we have to know that the Black Moment and the Epiphany have worked and that our character has truly learned his lesson and changed.

How do we show this? There are a number of key elements you want to weave into the last section of the book – let’s say the last two-three chapters that will help you prove this.

First, we want to see that your hero/heroine is truly a NEW MAN. It’s the confirmation and presentation of the changed person he/she has become, complete with new skills, new beliefs, and new courage.

This New Man moment happens right before the finale of the story. We want to glimpse what our new man looks like.

Then you are ready for the finale: the TEST of the new man through the Final Battle.

The Final Battle is the cementing that yes, the truth is RIGHT and with it they can win the day.

The Final Battle (a metaphor for the concepts, just so we’re clear) has five parts:

Storming the Castle, Lie, Loss, Truth, Victory

Step One: Storming the Castle

In my book Nothing But Trouble, (the first PJ Sugar book), her black moment is when she is arrested at the end for something she didn’t do. She wants to run. But, she has learned that maybe God made her with a curious bone and all her crazy skills are a good thing. So, I have her go to get her nephew from where he is staying and, when she sees the potential mystery-solving clue, instead of giving up, she takes a chance, digs deep into her toolkit of skills and saves the day. It’s short, but it confirms that she’s a different person.

I often figure out how they will Storm the Castle by asking: what can’t they do at the beginning of the book that they can at the end? For PJ, it’s keep her commitments.

Now that we have the Battle overview, and their Storm the Castle action, now we have to add some conflict. Because only in conflict do we test/reveal the mettle of a man (or woman!)

The next thing we must do to test our character in the Final Battle is resurrect the Lie.

Step 2: Resurrection of the LIE

Your hero has to believe that he will lose the battle. This is where the lie raises its almost dead head. We see it again. Is it going to win, or is our man truly a new man, armed with the truth, willing to escape/defeat the lie?

PJ Sugar fails in her attempt to subdue the villain, and finds herself in trouble. She’s NOT amazing, she’s just a mess. (That’s the Lie).

Right on the heels of the resurrection of the Lie is a glimpse of what they might lose.

Step 3: Glimpse of the Loss

With the rising of the LIE, there is also the Loss of the goal. The realization that the victory could pass out of their reach.

For PJ, if she’s killed, the villain will also hurt her nephew, whom she’s sworn to protect. She’ll lose her sister’s love and her mother’s confidence. She really will be Nothing but Trouble.

Give us a glimpse of the loss…and then follow it quickly with a reminder of the Truth.

Step 4: Reminder of the Truth

At the pivotal moment, the hero/heroine has to remember the Truth and what they’ve learned. Just like all of us right before we do something we know is wrong, and we hear the voice of Truth that stops us, the Truth stops our hero.

For PJ Sugar, although she’s failed at her first attempt, knows that she knows the truth about the mystery and blurts out the plot to the killer. He accuses her of babbling and pounces on her…but it acts as a diversion so the good guys can burst in. She’s saved the day with her crazy, everyday skills.

This Reminder of the Truth is the key to cementing that character change, and leads us to Victory.

Step 5: The Victory!

Then, of course we must have that Happily Ever After that gives the Hero and Heroine what they want.

PJ Sugar, having saved the day with her crazy skills, doesn’t have to run from her past anymore. She a heroine in her town.

Mapping out the inner journey can be as extensive or as minimal as you want. I like to define the Steps that I’ve just outlined and let the story and characterization take it from there.

*From My Book Therapy, originally entitled: The Final Battle: Finishing the Inner Journey for your Hero


Susan's latest release: Nightingale

Wolfgang Jager grew up in Iowa---but he's fighting on the "other" side in World War II. And Esther Lange is trapped by her own battles. When Wolfgang is captured and sent to a Wisconsin POW camp, he's relieved---until he's accused of murder! Can faith save him and the woman he loves?


To learn more about Susan, visit her Web site.