I’m going to get a little geeky for a few minutes here (I give you fair warning).
I have always been a huge fan of Star Wars and the universe that George Lucas gave us with the creation of the series. I haven’t read all of the books, but I pick them up from time to time. There is a series of stories involving the children of Luke, and Leia and Han (we are on a first name basis you know) titled “The New Jedi Order”. This is the series name, the individual books have their own names.
The premise of this series is Jacen Solo turning to the dark side. He does eventually take the name Darth Caedus in hopes of surpassing the power of his grandfather. During this process he kills Mara Jade (the mother of Ben Skywalker and Luke’s wife). Eventually, he is killed by his twin sister Jaina Solo. The full details here aren’t super important right now (read the books they are worth the time).
But I am sure you are now asking, what does this have to do with anything? And this is where I will tie this all together.
In Jacen’s quest to become a master of the dark side, he learned that he could not become powerful with out struggle without an enemy to test himself against. He found this when he defeated Mara Jade. Instead of turning Ben into his apprentice like he originally envisioned, he created an enemy, someone to hone and sharpen his skills.
Granted it was eventually Jaina who defeated Jacen. But she too had to become stronger by facing trials and training harder in order to do so. She went so far as to train with Boba Fett (sworn enemy of her father) in order to train for the final encounter with Jacen.
Fiction has a way of mirroring our own lives. Buried under the stories that seem so fantastical or extreme there are lessons we can use in our personal lives and even in our own stories. In the case of these stories, we can take away the importance of struggle.
The obstacles in our life, the walls we run into everyday, force us to work harder to achieve what we want to accomplish. It is through these trials that are victories mean something. Without these obstacles our victories become hollow and worthless.
The same is true for our characters in stories. While writing if your character has no challenges, there is little else to build the story. Well unless you live in a care bear world and everyone is a winner and this makes you happy (sounds boring and a little disturbing to me though).
Maybe it’s just me, but it seems the world has become a place where the only thing that matters now is the end result. We have lost the importance of the struggle, the journey that takes us to our victories (or even our defeats). It maybe time to slow down a little and start looking at our journey and enjoy it for what it is. This is true in life as well as the stories you tell.