Today we’re going to look at some writing advice from—wait for it—Winston Churchill.
He didn’t intend it as writing advice, by the way. Churchill was a terrific writer, but the quote I want to discuss teaches us more about storytelling than prose style:
“To each there comes in their lifetime a special moment when they are figuratively tapped on the shoulder and offered the chance to do a very special thing, unique to them and fitted to their talents. What a tragedy if that moment finds them unprepared or unqualified for that which could have been their finest hour.”
Churchill is talking about real life, but what is storytelling but a way to understand life better? That “special thing” he mentions is what I call the hero’s mission. It’s the stated purpose for all the hero’s efforts in the second act.
As Churchill notes, these missions are not distributed at random. Even in life, he asserts, the singular chance humans are offered is “unique to them and fitted for their talents.”
Look at all that specificity! Tailoring the perfect fit between hero and mission is a storyteller’s job. When books fall apart or writers get “stuck,” it’s very often because the mission is too vague or generic to keep the story moving forward.
In this week’s livestream, we look at this idea of the hero’s mission. How much “fit” is the right amount? What does it meant for the mission to be “unique” to the hero? Lots to think about here. You might just find the solution to your second act problems, too!
My weekly livestream happens on Wednesdays at 1 PM Pacific on YouTube. Come live and participate! Or catch the replays here on the blog. You can leave your questions and comments below.
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