I was doing a little research into Stoic philosophy—like ya do!—and came across a quote from Seneca:
“I judge you unfortunate because you have never lived through misfortune. You have passed through life without an opponent—no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”
—Seneca (4 B.C.E. — 65 C.E.)
To be thankful for one’s misfortunes is Stoic to the max. Leave it to a Roman to pull no punches!
But look at that second sentence: Without an opponent, “no one can ever know what you are capable of, not even you.”
For our hero to pass through a story without an opponent would make for a pretty dull tale. And yet, experience suggests that the single aspect of good storytelling that developing writers most want to punch in the face is the necessity of filling their pages with obstacles.
I get it. No one wants obstacles in real life. We want smooth sailing, even if Seneca says it’s not really optimal for our personal growth.
But what is a story but a controlled experiment in finding out exactly what your hero is capable of? Including the thrill of watching them make that discovery themselves, right in front of our reading eyes?
That’s the topic of this talk. I hope it packs a punch!
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