Has it only been a week? Feels like a life-time has flashed by since my last Wednesday post.
Nancy’s Writing is our Superpower post on Monday, with her message about using story to help people make sense of the world around them got me looking at real life from a storytelling perspective, which led me to thoughts about how people react to conflict.
If the events of the past few weeks were something we were reading in a story, then last Tuesday would have been that inciting incident or initial conflict that blasted our protagonists out of their stable-state existence on Monday and drop kicked them into a whole new world on Wednesday. Like “innocent, optimistic, naïve Nancy of November 7”, those protagonists can’t go back to the people they were before; they must now figure out what to do in what is their new reality. They can refuse to change, but they can’t un-change the world around them.
“No man ever steps in the same river twice, for it’s not the same river and he’s not the same man.” ~ Heraclitus
So, if this were just a story, once the shock and blaming were over, what would our protagonists do next?
Despite the futility, some would in fact, refuse to change. They would do their best to take the new reality bend and shape it to fit their previous stable –state; working hard to convince themselves that nothing had changed until things reached a point where they just couldn’t maintain that fiction any longer. If we were drawing a conflict box their goal would be “not to change.”
In fiction, an example of this would be Bill from Jenny Crusie’s book Crazy for You. Bill’s girlfriend leaves him and moves on with her life, but he steadfastly refuses to believe it; insisting as the story progresses and nothing has changed, resulting in a big showdown in the climax of the story when he is forced out of his denial.
Going back to our story world, other protagonists might instead take up the “call to action” and work to become the drivers of their own stories, rather than players in someone else’s narrative. Their conflict box goals would be something like “make xxx happen”. From a storytelling perspective these are very crunchy goals because they have the potential for danger, additional conflict, and escalating tension. They’re also the kind of goals that provide great opportunities for community building along with the potential for both great risk and great reward.
There are obviously other ways our protagonists could react to the initial inciting incident, but the second group are who I want to both write about and read about. Seeing how they act under pressure and how they grow/change can be both entertaining and provide useful examples for how do to do the same in real-life. Conversely, watching how people react to the current situation in real-life will undoubtedly provide some wonderful story fodder in return. I’m predicting an up-tick in stories with family members on opposite sides of the political spectrum, not to mention some interesting real-life discussions around the dinner-tables this holiday season.
For now I’m off to see what kind of dent I can make in today’s NaNo word count.
If writing just isn’t on your mind right now, check out Chuck Wendig’s Mourn, then get mad, then get busy post or the recent thought-provoking posts over at Arghink. If you need a light-hearted distraction instead , check out the some of these Biden memes that have been sweeping the internet.