Opening Doors

Think of all the times that doors have opened in your favor. I’m not just referring to physical doors, but the literal ones as well. For women it was breaking through the glass ceiling and being hired to do a job traditionally seen as a man’s. A good example is our Supreme Court Justice, Ruth Bader Ginsburg. She was admitted to a law school that had never before had a female student. Imagine how hard she fought to get there and to remain there.

Our characters also pass through many doors in their lives. It could be making it through the first job interview to get hired at a fast food joint. Or maybe it was when they were chosen as a soloist in the church choir.

Your task is to think of several doors that opened in one of your character’s lives. Begin by making a short list of at least five things. Next to each record why that door was important and also how it changed that person’s life.

Choose the one that you feel most comfortable writing about. Tell the story, remembering to include sensory details. We want to feel the anxiety before, during and after waiting for the door to open. We need to walk in her shoes as she goes through the process.

In order to make it more interesting, put obstacles in the way. Perhaps the door is far from home or the door opens at an inconvenient time. Maybe there is rejection at first, followed by disappointment, which then turns to joy.

Have fun with this one.

Character Strength

Recently I had a bout of pneumonia, followed by an asthma attack. It has left me weak and tired. I am not able to do much in any given day.

This has led me to think about strength, in all its various forms.

Physical strength is what usually comes to mind first. It is a truth that some people are stronger than others. We hear stories about individuals who, in times of need, lift one end of a car up in the air. There are those who are required for a job to display prowess in a challenge, such as a rope course or an obstacle course in order to be accepted into the military, fire or police departments.

What about emotional strength? I’m the type who cries at anything. Cute kittens, cartoons, a love scene in a movie, all bring me to tears. But I am strong in that I have been able to overcome doubters, people who said I’d never graduate from college, or ones who doubted by husband’s love. I’ve stood up to bullies as a teen and as an adult.

But I’ve known individuals who backed down whenever threatened. Who refused to fight for their rights or speak up when denigrated by a boss.

Stop and think about one of your characters. What kind of strength does he/she have? There has to be something or your character will not be able to carry the weight of a story. No one wants to read about a weakling, a whiner, a defeatist.

Read a section of your story. Find instances where your character shows strength, or, if no strength exhibited, places where you can make slight changes to give your character the skills he/she needs to stand up to the world.

Rewrite a scene or two. Then reread. Do you sense the difference? How do you feel about your character now? If nothing changes, then rework the scene.

Have fun with this one.