recently i decided to try my hand at writing a novel. while i have an idea, i have never written a novel before, or even taken a creative writing class. i'm undeterred. writing is a craft: you can learn the elements of a good story, but it is through the process of creating a story that you learn how to make a good story. so far, i've drawn out some characters, and have been reading material on how to create an interesting plot with fascinating characters.
one of my research books is called "The Art of Dramatic Writing!" (yes, that's with an exclamation point). it explores how to create a three-dimensional character, and pinpoint a character's motives and weaknesses, so you'll be able to tease out the most fascinating conflict possible for the story.
it is through conflict that story characters change and grow. in a solid, worthwhile story, characters move from one pole to another. for instance, hatred to love and compassion. perfect example: in schiendler's list, schiendler was introduced to us as a selfish, exploitive womanizer, who made business decisions only for the financial betterment of his company. he opened his heart to the plight of the jewish people while the nazis came under power, and became a compassionate man that saved hundreds, maybe even thousands, of lives. the power in his personality and character was his ability to manipulate nazis to play into his demands, which saved the lives of polish jews. it's a powerful story--true story--and beautifully demonstrates the nature of CONFLICT in stories. it is gut-wrenching, sweat-inducing conflict that makes the most dramatic, and powerful stories. stories that edify people and inspire them to live better.
now, here is my problem in writing this novel. my main character is mormon. my goal is to show a mormon woman who is experiencing the level of conflict that could obliterate her faith. where her relationship with her religion is giving her pain as well as peace. i hope i can live up to this task. it is a challenge because there are no mormon novels that i know of where a mormon's faith is delicate, or a mormon family is being torn apart. i think this is because it is difficult for mormons to admit to others that they are struggling. that there are times when we don't know whether to sit through the sunday school lesson that pains or hearts, or to walk out. we certainly don't want to give a bad impression to the "outside world" of nonmormons.
but isn't it time that mormon art reflected a little bit more authenticity, a little more transparency? mormons are under fire in the public eye. there was prop 8, there was the endowment ceremony shown on "big love", and the broadway musical made by the south park guys. there is glenn beck who makes centrists and liberals and many rational right-wingers cringe. it's time to show the world some more diversity in mormon life. and part of that diversity is putting the complex inner life of a mormon--even a fictional one--on display.