“I have no special talents. I am only passionately curious.” – Albert Einstein
What do you feel passionate about? What is your position on justice, authenticity, self-authority, the need for community? It is through investigation of the things we feel passionate about that we come to discover a deeper truth. By becoming conscious of what we feel passionate about and exploring its opposing arguments, we begin to see our story more clearly.
There is a danger, however. Have you ever read a book or watched a movie and felt like the author or filmmaker was preaching at you, like they were pushing an agenda. The way to avoid this is to understand that the purpose of story is to reveal a transformation.
Story is not about winning an argument, but about revealing a deeper truth. Every married person knows that winning an argument does not lead a peaceful coexistence. If one person wins, everyone loses. It’s the same in story. If all that happens at the end of the story is that your hero gets what he wants, your reader will be disappointed. If Jimmy Stewart left Bedford Falls at the end of It’s a Wonderful Life, we would be an audience bewildered.
We care about what the protagonist needs. In story, the hero goes on a journey in order to reframe his relationship to his goal.
1) Write for five minutes on what you feel passionate about:
2) Distill what you wrote into a single arguable statement, for instance: I feel strongly that everyone deserves a fair trial.
3) List the opposing arguments to this statement and you will begin to connect to the antagonistic forces in your story in a truthful and compelling way.