My dear storytellers, I hope you’re staying grounded during this tumultuous time.
As I write this, we’re a week in to a frightening ground war in Europe, prompted by Russia’s invasion of its neighbor Ukraine. The rest of the world has been rapidly swept in, moved to react both by the sudden, senseless brutality of the invasion, and the astonishing principled bravery of the Ukrainian people and their President, Volodymyr Zelenskyy.
As someone who’s thought long and hard about the transformative energetic qualities of the hero’s journey, watching the real-world manifestation of these foundational human patterns play out on a global stage is deeply emotional and deeply fascinating.
In this week’s livestream, I’d like to talk about the power of the hero archetype in a particular context: We all know the hero should be actively driving the story forward, but won’t there be times in our story that the...
It’s the eleventh hour. The big finish. The grand finale.
In other words, it’s the third act!
We writers know that a lot is riding on the ending of our tales. It’s where all the threads we’ve woven into our story must coalesce into a coherent pattern of meaning and resolution. We want to give our reader the deep satisfaction of watching the puzzle pieces fall into place in a way that’s both surprising and inevitable.
This is no mere solving-the-Rubik's-cube exercise. Great third acts satisfy emotionally, psychologically, and spiritually. The third act is where our hero demonstrates, through word and deed, that she is not the same person she was at the beginning of the tale. This story has meant something, not only for our fictional protagonist, but for the reader who’s taken the long and difficult journey with her.
Sounds easy, no? I kid. Third acts are long in the making and...
We’ve been eating leftovers for two days. It’s the happy aftermath of the excess of cooking I succumbed to on Thanksgiving.
What can I say? I like to cook and it’s been a long year of no entertaining. Give me an inch and I took a mile.
In your story, your hero too has overdelivered in the third act — and she too has something to show for it. She was willing to risk it all and sacrifice herself for the sake of others. She’s almost certainly had some kind of brush with death, either literally or symbolically.
She left it all on the field. And it has made a difference.
The struggle was not for nothing. Your hero’s journey of transformation was fulfilled. The change is irrevocable and full of meaning. What was lost has been found. That which needed healing has been healed.
This is true not only of your hero, but of the larger world. A kingdom has been put right, a false or bad ruler has...