Life is for Learning

My husband’s play list in the car includes a parody song of Woodstock, called w00tstock. If you are a nerd or live with a nerd, this song will make you chuckle and sing along. But for me, I had an earworm of Joni Mitchell’s original song in my head, especially the line that is the title of this post.

Life is confusing, invigorating, depressing, tragic, magic, and all too soon the first two reels are over (That’s a reference to the times when movies in theaters came on big reels of tape, usually three for the whole film). In Romances, we often deal with characters still in the first reel. Our plots need to show that the characters are learning something in the course of the story.

050717 a in five years

Does your heroine think she has to do everything herself? She should learn how to delegate and that it’s okay to rely on others sometimes. Does your hero believe he’s unlovable because maybe his parents said that to him? He should learn to trust the person who falls in love with him, to accept that love without expecting a betrayal. Does your heroine find herself longing for a dominant lover? She needs to learn that she can be a strong, take-charge person as well as a submissive lover.

091017 lover

Sometimes the story is about people who never learn, but then it’s not likely to be a romance. Romeo and Juliet needed to learn that they were just kids and should be patient while working to solve the feud between their families. What a different story that would have been!

Maybe Elizabeth Bennet should have learned sooner that first impressions are seldom true character studies and talking about your negative vibes from a person is not doing either of you any good. Still, her mother and younger sisters were an unchangeable part of her life and ready to make things difficult no matter what Lizzie did.

091017 jane and lizzie

Obviously, Jane Bennet needed to learn to express her heart clearly in public, but then she would have been crossing a line that social mores dictated in her world. Mr. Bennet needed to kick his wife to the curb. Imagine if he were a widower with five daughters and married Charlotte Lucas. Perhaps he could have produced an heir to save them all. And Lydia might have been saved from her self-interest enough to learn she was too busy loving herself to allow anyone else in.

In my still-being-edited story, Crazy for Trying, Adam learns that people are more important than money, but it’s nice to live in a penthouse. Valerie learns that grief can become a habit that stunts the rest of your life if you don’t move on.

091017 sort of valerie

What do your characters need to learn? Give it some thought and let me know in the comments. Thanks for reading, I’ll be back on Thursday.

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