Life Learning Labs

Last week I talked about how fun it is to see characters get stretched beyond what I’ve seen. It’s one of the benefits of the realm of fan fiction–there’s a foundation that comes from working with familiar characters that lets you stretch them in ways that it’s more difficult to do when you’re introducing a new world, new characters, etc.

However, when you begin with certain characters, there are always the same set of character changes needed. For example, when writing a Pride & Prejudice fan fiction, you’ll always have to address Darcy’s pride.

I really enjoy trying to dissect a person in a story–to try to boil down the key events needed to push them the direction necessary. There seem to be certain constants that are constrained by the person’s base character. First-season Lois always needs to find out that she’s not as competent as she believes she is, that she needs people in her life. I’ve seen that accomplished various ways–having her publish a story that’s wrong, losing everyone and finding out that she’s not functional alone, the smack in the face of finding out Lex Luthor is evil and she almost married him–there are lots of events you can utilize in order to push someone in the appropriate direction.

All the time I’ve spent reading and analyzing fan fiction over the past couple of years has increased my appreciation for God as an Author. He knows us. He knows where our characters need to change. And, praise Him!, He puts us in the right circumstances to trigger character development. I can’t tell you how thankful I am for that. I think my worst fear is that I’ll be stagnant–that I’ll get to the end of my life (or even just five years from now) carrying the exact same emotional baggage and hang-ups in the exact same way I’ve always done it.

The circumstances that work for me won’t work for you. But, because we have a God who knows us inside and out, He knows what circumstances we each need, what the perfect life learning lab for each of us is. I have a couple friends who always wanted to be stay-at-home moms, and I never, ever, ever wanted to be. I wanted a career. They have careers and I get to stay home with my kids–which I actually do love (probably because I have such great kids!). But it’s a stretch. It’s not easy. It’s not comfortable. It’s good though. Personally, I think anytime we’re not in a life where it takes everything we are, we’re doing something wrong.

It changes how I handle things when I look at my circumstances and ask myself what I can learn from them, instead of just trying to survive them.

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