COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - I - In-between

We’ve reached an important point of a story. For regular movie-goers in India, we know this phase as the Interval or Intermission. Not only does this break in a movie serve as a pop-corn/bathroom break, but also from a story-perspective, it is the middle point of the story.

So, what is so special about the mid-point? For the hero, the mid-point has just one significance and an important one at that - Move from reaction to action. No, this has nothing to do with Sir Isaac Newton’s third law.

Let’s recap. In the COEXIST storytelling method, we chose a hero and an issue in step C; wrote our grand story in one-line in step O; made our hero “get out” of their comfort zone in step E; gave them an external threat for them to battle in step X; and now the hero is just tired of running around and just reacting to whatever is thrown at them.

Let’s go back to the stories that we have been tracking.

In Finding Nemo, Marlin and Dory find a diver’s mask which has the address where Marlin’s son might be. After dealing with the three sharks (Bruce, Anchor and Chum, if you wanted to know their names 😊), Marlin is faced with a dire situation. The only way to finding his son is in the mask, but the mask is in a dark abyss. With some persuasion from Dory (“Let’s keep swimming” earworm), Marlin decides that he’ll swim for the mask.

In The Matrix, after Morpheus is captured by the agents (Smith, Jones and Brown, if you wanted to know their names 😊), Neo is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Morpheus is to go to a military location, but the location is guarded by the military and three agents. With some persuasion (indirect) from the Oracle (“Know thyself” theatrics), Neo decides he’ll fight for Morpheus.

In Titanic, after Jack is captured by Cal (Lovejoy is the thug’s name, if you wanted to know his name 😊), Rose is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Jack is to go (back) to the Titanic, but the ship is sinking and she has no idea where Jack will be. With some (indirect) persuasion from Cal (and Jack himself), Rose decides to get back on to Titanic to rescue Jack and be with him.

Well, since today is May 4th, I’ll also talk about Star Wars (“May the fourth be with you”, get it?).

In Star Wars - A New Hope, Luke Skywalker is captured by Darth Vader’s storm troopers (Oh c’mon, I can’t name them all 😊) on the Death Star, Luke is faced with a dire situation. The only way to rescuing Princess Leia is to battle out along with Han Solo and the droids. Luke decides to join the Rebel Alliance against the Galactic Empire.

How do you perform the step of I - in-between?

Continue reading

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - X - eXternal threat

What is the role of monsters in movies or stories?

Monsters or villainous characters have a responsibility in a story. They are there to apply pressure on the main character/protagonist, so that the heroes rethink their decision on “getting out” of their comfort zone.

Marlin, Nemo’s dad, gets out of his anemone, but now, he has to face 3 sharks (or “4800 teeth” as a character in the movie later puts it).

Rose (in Titanic) has the iceberg episode to deal with.

Neo (in The Matrix) is arrested, intimidated and bugged after he decides to get out of the dream world.

In the COEXIST method of storywriting, so far, you have chosen your hero, issue (in the step C) and you wrote a one-liner of your story (in the step O). You then kick-started the hero’s journey by making them “get out” of their normal course of life (in the step E).

In this step, X, you will learn how to create pressure on the hero at a juncture when they have taken a decision to “get out”.

Continue reading

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

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.

Continue reading

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - O - One-liner story

A woman, engaged to someone, meets and falls in love with another man onboard a ship, which sinks a few hours after they meet.

A hacker, on discovering that the world that he is in is a computer program, teams up with a few rebels to overthrow the guardian programs of the system.

A father fish embarks on a long and challenging journey across the ocean to find his missing son.

A teenager, with the help of a watch that can transform him into powerful aliens, battles evil forces.

Which movies or TV shows do these one-liners describe?

This post is about the O (One-liner) step in the COEXIST methodology. This is part of a series of posts on the topic.

Continue reading

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - C - Choose a hero, issue

What is common between Captain America, Lord Rama (in Ramayana1), Marlin (from Finding Nemo2), Katniss Everdeen (from The Hunger Games3), Harry Potter, Neo (from The Matrix4) and Ishaan (from Taare Zameen Par5)?

They are my favorite people from these stories, but they also happen to be heroes of their stories.

One of the key elements for a story is a protagonist or hero who leads us through the story. The hero is relatable - we are able to relate to their situations. If we like them, we root for them to succeed in their quest. This is the core of the hero’s journey template of stories. You can take any of your favourite stories, you will find a hero at the center of the story. This hero is some human (or animal or robot) you cared about and now want them to achieve their goal in the story (usually against all odds).

In this series on how to write stories, we explore how to write actionable stories for sustainable change. In this post, we explore the first step to getting the story going - Choosing a hero and an issue (an urban wetlands issue).

Continue reading

COEXIST - Actionable Stories for Sustainable Change - Method of Storywriting

What does Coexist mean? “It means living in harmony with any being and all the surroundings.”

One of our young authors (let’s call her Sashi) answered in a workshop we had organized for middle school students. Just like Sashi, many of the students in workshops were fascinated about heroic stories about their own cherished surroundings. Some of them had written stories in the past, but it was on a whim or part of an assignment at school. Not only did Sashi want to make a change but also make her classmates aware of the state of the environment that she lived in. But she wondered – How do I write a story? What should I do about all the changes I see in the environment? Should I just be an innocent bystander of anything happening around me? In this series, we will explore the construct that the young authors in our workshops used to write stories. Not simple stories, but Actionable Stories for a Sustainable Change. (All stories are available to download as an e-book)

Continue reading