COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - E - Eventful start

2021-04-02

In the COEXIST method of storywriting, you have chosen your hero, issue (in the step C) and you wrote a one-liner of your story (in the step O). Now what? The story has to start somewhere and sometime. But this somewhere, sometime has to be pivotal that it changes the normal course of life for our hero. This is the essence of what we try to accomplish in E (Eventful start). Let’s take the heroes from some popular movies.

Marlin, Nemo’s dad, gets out his anemone, to look for his son. (Finding Nemo)

Neo, gets out of The Matrix to find the truth about his real world. (The Matrix)

Rose, gets out of her protected life, to experience life in the third class. (Titanic)

Ben, gets out of his human life, to become one of the many aliens. (Ben 10 and the ultimate alien)

“Gets out” is the big event here. So, how do you write the E step for your story? Take any favourite movie. Make the hero step out (or “get out”) of their comfort zone.

Source of all 4 images

This step, where the hero “gets out”, is also called the call to adventure. This step, once taken, leads to change in the hero’s life.

I have read a few articles on this topic where they suggest to give your hero two things:

  • mission
  • desire

A mission is external to themselves and we can, in the course of the story, see them make progress towards the goal. A desire on the other hand, is something intrinsic, a longing for something. We can only perceive the growth or progression.

I would add another point to these two “things” - obstacle or conflict. The hero has something (belief or a natural inability) in them that is holding them back from performing their mission and fulfilling their desire.

I have summarized the mission, desire and conflict for the movies that I started out this writeup with.

Movie Hero Mission Desire Conflict
Finding Nemo Marlin Finding Nemo, his son, of course Protect his son from everything Fun and adventure are distractions
The Matrix Neo Win over the bad programs on The Matrix Wants to understand the world around him Have accepted the world as it appears
Titanic Rose Remain alive no matter what To explore life at its fullest Need money to maintain their lives
Ben 10 Ben Fight the bad guys/aliens To be a good friend to his best friends His celebrity status and his big ego

Go ahead, make your hero stick their head out and get out of their comfort zone. As an author, you can be like one of those strict parents who will continually challenge their kids. But do remember that, like a good parent, you are doing this for their own good.

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