Anatomy of a Story

I love to read.  Sometimes I forget that and go long spells in my life without reading.  Right now I am reading four books because I can’t decide which one I want to read the most.  One is about prayer, one is about a man’s life and writing a new story.  Another is a sort of self-help book about being brave.  The other is an audio book of the “The Shack.”  The reason we like reading books is one thing – the story!  Even people that don’t like to read, enjoy movies and other forms of art that employ a good story.  It is interesting to think about how many parts of our world revolve around a story.  From the Bible to advertisements to movies to even many business practices – all benefit from good stories.


If you think about it, a story has about 3 parts.  Plays sometimes literally divide the play into these 3 acts.  Act one always begins with the hero.  The hero is trying to accomplish something.  During Act 1, the hero sets out on his journey to save the princess or make a fortune or win a championship.  The heroes also usually does a lot of good things that make us root for them.  Just think of all the nice things Rocky did in the first part of the movie to make us want to be on his side.  But, right at the end of Act 1, it always happens – the inciting incident.  This is the place where the hero realizes it is going to be tough – picture the hero sitting on the bed with his head in his hands, feeling truly discouraged.  

Act 2 is where the hero tries all kinds of different approaches to overcome the obstacle, usually starting with the easiest.  But, the challenge doesn’t go away – the problems only get more complicated.  The plot gets more complicated, the goal seems farther way, and the hero comes very close to giving up.  

Act 3 is when the hero realizes that there is only one way to solve the challenge.  They also realize that this may be the hardest thing they have ever done.  They may also experience some regret because they realize the challenge would have been much easier to overcome had they answered the challenge in Act 1.  We knew it all along, but they couldn’t see it, even though they are the hero.  

In reality, the hero isn’t made in Act 3 because most of us never make it to Act 3.  Most of us give up in Act 1 at the inciting incident.  We say “This is tougher than I imagined,” “This must not be God’s will” or “This is not fair!”  Substitute in your favorite excuse.  Heroes are really people that choose to write their own stories.  Heroes are the ones that push through the inciting incident and finish the story.  Have the courage to write a new chapter in your life, but realize you WILL face the inciting incident that begs you to give up.  Whether it is your marriage or career or other life goals, choose to accept the challenge and persevere!  Lean into the challenges instead of avoiding them.  It’s always hard — it’s always has been.  But, that’s what makes a good story!

Karl                                                                                                      Be sure to follow us===>

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