On Friday I returned from the Catalyst West conference at Mariners Church in Irvine. Wow, wow, wow. Amazing insights from a lot of brilliant thinkers.
Author and lecturer Donald Miller’s presentation met me at so many levels; as a writer, a storyteller, and as a human being on planet Earth.
Miller shared what every novelist simply must know. Must know. We must know what a story is or we will fail to tell one. After attending a lecture series by the brilliant Robert McKee (author of Story) some years ago, Miller came up with the simplest definition of what a story is. It is this: “A character who wants something and overcomes obstacles to get it.” Sounds elementary, right? Well, it is in fact elemental. If fiction writers don’t understand these three basic elements – character – quest – conflict, we are nothing but chatterers spewing out sentences.
But did you know you are a character in your own Story? This was what Miller told the audience of 4000 at Catalyst – most of whom do not write novels. Life has meaning for us when we begin the quest for which we were created. We shall meet obstacles. It’s part of the Story to meet obstacles. And it’s part of the Story to overcome them.
If your life has flat-lined and you feel like you are wandering in the desert of purposelessness perhaps you do not know what you want. A character must want something. They must want something worth wanting. They must embark on the quest to have it. They must expect obstacles. And they must exert themselves to overcome what stands in their way. That is the lure and promise of a Story.
You are a Story. You are writing it. Today. Do you know what you want? Is it something worth wanting? It has to be something you value or the obstacles will beat you down. If you don’t care enough about wanting it, you won’t care enough to fight for it. Where are you on your quest? What page are you on?
Tell me . . .