The obstacle is the storytelling

conflict second acts Aug 04, 2022

In the mood for a little Stoic wisdom? Check out this quote from Marcus Aurelius, who was a Roman Emperor, a philosopher, and in this case, a source of some spot-on advice about storytelling:

“The impediment to action advances action. What stands in the way becomes the way.”

Isn’t that great? Of course, Marcus Aurelius was talking about real life, which he rightly observed was full of obstacles. 

We often think of obstacles as misfortunes, setbacks, or strokes of bad luck. Not our normal condition, but a rough patch we have to get through so we can resume the smooth sailing that we think of as our due. 

Marcus Aurelius asserts that's not so. The obstacle is the way. There is no other. 

Which brings us to the topic of story structure. Yes, there are three acts, and stages of the hero’s journey, and character archetypes, and arcs of transformation—all of these are incredibly useful and practical ideas that give us a nuanced understanding about what goes on in well-told stories. They are invaluable, and no writer’s toolkit is complete without them

But way down deep, inside the nucleus of the tale, at the mitochondria level where the story energy is formed, there is simply this. 

What stands in the way becomes the way. 

Story is what happens when desire meets obstacle. That’s the topic of today’s livestream. Listen in for ten tips on how to pack your storytelling with the energy of obstacles.

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