A Post That Does Not Mention the C-word
Do you feel like you’re starring in a movie? Like you have no idea what will happen next? Life seems surreal right now, doesn’t it? Things are unfolding in a way that we could not have foreseen or imagined.
Well, unless you are a writer, that is. A writer’s job is to find the unimaginable and stick our protagonists in as much deep water as possible. The more the author ramps up the stakes, the more exciting it is. The more we can root for our champion, the more emotional we get and the more satisfying it is at the end.
We love to be left on a cliff hanger, the oldest device in the book. Like the old trope of a damsel being tied to the railroad track as the train is seen chuffing away in the distance towards her…all set up so our hero (or heroine) can beat the seemingly insurmountable odds and save the day, the wench, the world.
We love reading books because we are taken on a journey of ups and downs. Our protagonist must go through a big challenge or series of challenges. We watch them struggle, breakthrough, break down and grow into, if not a happy ending, at least a place of resolution.
If we leave a movie with no plot and no trajectory of the hero’s inner journey, we are disappointed. If we aren’t moved by the heroine in the first few chapters of a book, we put it down and move on to the next in our teetering pile of ‘to reads’.
The way I see it, GOD (the Great Old Dramatist in the sky) has just ramped up the stakes in the story of planet Earth. Really, things have been ticking along pretty steadily for a millennium or three million. The last ice age was a cool 2.4 million years ago, it was 66 million years ago since the asteroid hit and extinguished the dinosaurs and did the great flood actually happen, or is that us telling stories? No wonder GOD is getting bored.
Maybe the GOD is a ‘plotter'* and knows exactly how the Hero (Human Earthly Race of Oddballs) will save the world, maybe GOD is a ‘pantser'** and is enjoying watching it all unfold, trusting that it will end well, in a neat and tidy bow.
One thing I know is that we are all the heroes in this story, facing the seemingly insurmountable challenges of any good protagonist. We will untie ourselves from the train track and avoid a nasty death. And we will also learn about ourselves. We will grow and evolve and come out the other side stronger, wiser and kinder.
And hopefully, just this once, it won’t be The End.
*plotter - a writer who thoroughly plots out their story before actually writing it.
**pantser - a writer who dives right in and writes by the ‘seat of their pants’ and hopes that it will work out in the end.