Questions of Change

Elizabeth

THE STRENGTH OF A SYMMETRICAL PLOT

Since a story is always at its crux, about change, I encourage you to ask yourself (and hopefully you don’t mind reporting back to me) these questions:

1. What needs to change for my main character (MC) at the beginning? (I know this is a true story, but I also know the Bible is a true story of change)

  • I’ve asked myself this before and never come up with a good answer. This story starts with Obadiah at age eight. Does a child’s normal growth count?

  • The killing starts in Ch. 6, when he’s an adult, and Obadiah tries to avoid getting involved but then at Ch. 10 assumes responsibility to hide bubblers.

  • In following chapters, I don’t see any character change in Obadiah. He continues loyal to his friend Ahab.

2. How have the experiences God puts MC through led to that change?

  • He sees the suffering of slave children.

  • He feels the sorrow when the son of a good friend is killed.

3. How does the antagonist change through his experiences? for the better? for worse?

  • I don’t see any change in Ahab.

4. List the titles of the scenes (chapters, OK?) that show:

1. the need for internal change in MC

  • 6. Yedidah: Wife tells of Jezebel’s murders; Obadiah thinks, “Not my business.”

  • 7. Slaves: Where Obadiah sees suffering, Ahab sees silver.

  • 8. Pickles: Slave traders murder Liev. Obadiah resists getting involved.

  • 9. Burial: As Obadiah helps bury Liev he avoids conflict.

  • 10. Mourn: Obadiah decides to hide bubblers.

2. the need for external change in his world

Two evils trouble Obadiah and neither is fully resolved.

(1.) False religions of his people (2.) invasions from Syria.

1. the evil religions of his people

  • 4. Shemer’s Hill: While Obadiah hires managers, he argues values with Ahab.

  • 6. Yedidah: Wife tells of Jezebel’s murders; Obadiah thinks, “Not my business.”

  • 7. Temple Slaves: Where Obadiah sees suffering, Ahab sees silver.

  • 8. Pickles: Slave traders murder Liev. Obadiah resists getting involved.

  • 9. Burial: As Obadiah helps bury Liev he avoids conflict.

  • 10. Mourn: Obadiah decides to hide bubblers.

  • 13. Shunem: A desperate woman begs for hope.

  • 15. Misliya: A child seeks help for her brother. Obadiah inspects the Misliya cave.

  • 26. Dogs: For the murder of Naboth, dogs will drink Ahab’s blood and eat Jezebel.

  • 28. Clowns: Jehoshaphat asks for a bubbler from the Lord.

  • 32. Throw: Servants throw Jezebel from the window, and the dogs eat her.

2. Invasions from Syria

  • 2. Race: A Syrian arrow cuts short their horse race.

  • 5. Home: Syrians kill Obadiah’s father. Obadiah dashes home.

  • 19. Attack: The Syrian army attacks Samaria City.

  • 20. Threat: The elders say, Fight. Ahab sends the challenge.

  • 21. Thrill: A bubbler charms Ahab into hearing who should lead the counterattack.

  • 22. Commandos: Ahab readies junior officers to lead the attack.

  • 23. Counterattack: With Ahab leading, the junior officers send the Syrians running.

  • 24. Aphek: The Syrians return in the spring to fight with chariots in the open and are defeated.

  • 30. Dead: From a random arrow, Ahab bleeds to death in his chariot.

  • 31. Funeral: Dogs lick up Ahab’s blood. Obadiah buries him with full honors.

3. List titles of all the scenes that show hardships and experiences molding toward that change

Obadiah resists doing anything about the killings of the bubblers.

  • 6. Yedidah: Wife tells of Jezebel’s murders; Obadiah thinks, “Not my business.”

  • 7. Temple Slaves: Where Obadiah sees suffering, Ahab sees silver.

  • 8. Pickles: Slave traders murder Liev. Obadiah resists getting involved.

  • 9. Burial: As Obadiah helps bury Liev he avoids conflict.

  • 10. Mourn: Obadiah assumes responsibility and decides to hide bubblers.

4. the scene in which we see proof of MC internal change

  • At the end of Chapter 10, after days of mourning the death of Liev together, Obadiah and Gera veer their discussion into how to save others from the queen’s killers.

5. the scene in which we see proof of external world change (or lack thereof)

  • Every scene of Syrian killings and of battles with Syria show this as an ongoing thing.

The answer to these questions is a gold mine of information for you about making your story work.

  • Maybe I’m not doing it right, Elizabeth. I haven’t seen any ah-ha moments on these pages yet.

If you don’t want to indulge me with answering that’s fine too. But, you did say I could play developmental editor, right?

  • You betcha!


This is fantastic and shines a lot of light on the contour of your story for me.

First, drawing from your answers, I see Obadiah’s inner arc as the desire to follow and please God.

In the beginning, Obadiah believes he can do this best by honoring his king and caring for his family and community.

In the conflict phase, Obadiah learns he cannot do both. He must make a choice between fully honoring his king and honoring his God.

Enduring this struggle of conscience is what God uses to shape Obadiah like a potter shapes clay.

Obadiah, in Ch 10, after a low point, determines that he cannot honor God, king, and care for his family and community. To honor God and care for his family and community, Obadiah must dishonor the wishes of his king, and risk the safety of the very family and community he seeks to protect.

He acts on this by hiding bubblers.

Traditionally, the middle of your story would have either a false victory or a false defeat followed by increasing stakes and tension.

The conclusion of the story brings us back to the relationship with Ahab, and though Obadiah could not honor Ahab fully in life, after God ends Ahab with dishonor, Obadiah chooses to honor him in the final battle and after Ahab’s death with the burial.

A lot of us feel torn in relationships with nonbelievers. We want to show we care, but often, to honor God, we have to act in ways the friend doesn’t understand.

So this idea is relatable.

Something that elevates a story is to make sure that the catalyst, the crux, and the conclusion line up. I can send you a link to this idea if you like.

The catalyst that sets the story in motion should be reversed in some way in the conclusion. And the crux is smack dab in the middle which ramps up the stakes and ultimately leads to the conclusion.

If the catalyst for your story is the change in Ahab, bringing in false gods and slaves,

the closing would be that God brings Ahab’s damaging rule to an end.

The crux could be the choice Obadiah makes:

Is he responsible to the king or to kill the king? Ultimately he chooses to let God seek revenge, and simply to do what Obadiah’s asked to do, which is to hide bubblers and be a safe tower for the followers of God.

Your story has the right elements. If you highlight these elements, there will be a desired change arc for your main character who ultimately chooses to both act–hiding bubblers, and not act–no more punching Ahab or seeking revenge.

In this way, we can see Obadiah go from competitive kid seeking revenge and ignoring problems to swapping places with Ahab a bit. In the beginning Ahab secretly helped others. Now Ahab blatantly hurts others, and Obadiah secretly helps others. And God has the revenge while Obadiah honors the memory of his friend.

Super good stuff!!!

SO…the reader will care about conflict only as it directly threatens the main character and his goals. So just be sure that as your conflict increases, so do the stakes for Obadiah and those he loves. I’m pretty sure this happens naturally in the Bible account, but I thought it would be good to mention the emphasis on it.

We all want to see someone become what we thought they could be. It is so gratifying, and I think with a bit of tweaked emphasis on this change arc, we will get exactly that with Obadiah and his faith that matures to both act where he once stayed out of it, and to let go of revenge and let God ultimately deliver us.

What are your thoughts?

Do you have any questions for me?

Elizabeth

PS –

THE STRENGTH OF A SYMMETRICAL PLOT

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