Why screw around? Here are 7 Quickfire thoughts about Writing and Story:
- Aristotle is the godfather of story structure. Writers argue about whether story is driven by plot or character or conflict or (_______) – but nobody argues about the 3 act structure. Aristotle said that each of the 3 acts has a base emotion attached to it. They are 1) Pity, 2) Fear, and 3) Catharsis. The audience feels pity for a protagonist at the beginning of a story, as everything is going wrong. In the middle of the story, as the tension rises, the audience feels fear for the protagonist. In the end, when the conflict is resolved, the audience feels relief, release, catharsis.
- Humans are “story animals”. We use stories to make sense of the world. We band together around our myths, religions, family histories. It’s the thing that distinguishes us from other animals. Not Language, Not Wisdom, Not Walking Upright on Two Legs.
- Adversity is an intrinsic part of the human story. Our bodies need resistance. Our minds need to stretch in order to grow. Without resistance there is no growth. Without evil there is no good. A story with no conflict is a shiny ford truck with no engine.
- During a good hero’s journey, trials and revelations are what transform the consciousness of the hero. Heroes are always self interested at first, but they progress along a spectrum of selflessness, until they are willing to give anything for the cause they know is pure.
- A student in a lecture hall once asked Haruki Murakami, “What did you mean when you wrote that ‘his stomach was a volcano?’ Did you mean that the character was hungry? Or that he was nervous?” Murakami responded, “It was not a metaphor. I meant just what I said, that ‘his stomach was a volcano.'”
- The best way to be a writer or any kind of artist is to write like myself. When I act like the socially accepted version of myself, I’m only capable of making copies, never any original art. When I act like a copy, all I’m doing is taking up valuable space in the universe. When I act like myself, I water the garden of the collective mind.
- I allow myself to dream. Dreaming is good. But I try not to forget this crucial step: right when the dream is over, I try and ask myself, “OK so, what’s one thing I can do RIGHT NOW (within the next 10 minutes) that will push me closer to that dream? There’s a canyon that stretches out between my current life and my dream life. Whenever I take those little actions, I nail another plank on the bridge that’ll one day carry me across.