This week I was able to work with Joel on creating character descriptions for his current screenplay. I was able to go through the script and pick and choose what and how the characters should be portrayed. Using Story O I was able to upload the info and even use pictures of actors I thought would fill the roles. It was fun seeing the need for character creation in a story, but also how they are developing through the story.
Speaking of story, I was able to write a blog post for Joel on his website about what story means to me. Here is the full excerpt if you'd like to read...
Story is the Cure for Life
The first time my mom read me the children’s story “The Giving Tree” I was instantly immersed in the pages with its simple drawings and attractive plotline. I recall thinking why is this kid so needy, and as we slowly neared the book’s final pages I discovered two pearl-like tears forming in the corner of my mom’s eyes. Something within me wanted to question her sadness, but although I didn’t know why she was crying or even why the main character lost everything in the end, my arms lazily reached out to hug her in exchange for some sort of comfort. That’s when I had a profound experience which taught me the power of story, its influence on our emotions, and most importantly the necessity to obtain understanding from the unfamiliar.
I believe story is the connecting force between individuals. It provides the opportunity to bond with others empathetically and develop relationships with ourselves and those around us. It presents us with the privilege to learn and implement new ideas and skills in our daily efforts. Because of this, I am an advocate for personal self-development and think we grow more effectively by creating our own narrative through comprehending past/current experiences of what life has given us.
An example I like to use comes from my three year old nephew. Each time I visit him I ask him to tell me a story. At first he is reluctant and shy because his parents and I are listening. He begins to curl up in a ball and hides his face, but then I’ll assist him by starting with the words, “Once upon a time…”, and suddenly, he perks up and shouts, “There was a giant shark!” For the next ten minutes he continues on about how he caught the shark and killed it but then took it to the hospital so the doctors could help him, and by the end he releases the shark back in the ocean to live “happily ever after.”
As he explains the story his emotions change from seriousness to silliness to happiness. From the tale I can see the influence his parents have on him by what they say, the movies and books they expose him to but more interestingly the way he portrays his abstract ideas in a concrete manner. He has the ability to associate with others through the strength of story, and each time he begins to speak his ideas become more complex allowing him to better connect to the world around him.
When I first learned how to write I tried to imitate the stories I liked, and as I have grown older I have tried to write things other people will appreciate. I disapprove when people say writing is an expression because I feel it is more earnestly described as an understanding. There is an underlying reason as to why you or I portray an idea in a particular manner, and I believe that by having a better comprehension of influence you and I can achieve a greater appreciation for stories or any type of art for that matter.
Frequently, I’ll find a movie or novel with which I become obsessed, but then I’ll take the time to research the who, what, where, when, why questions pertaining to the creation of these movies/novels. I often discover that most stories are personal and others are just merely ideas that have been dissected over time. What I appreciate most is the ability to somehow attach a part of myself to these great ideas. After all, I do think that is why stories exist, to supply us with either a form of escape, to be entertained, or in some way enlightened. It is a unique capability that either through music, art, film, etc. that a story can be told in either a physical or intangible method and yet we have the capacity to increase our understanding of life through these formats.
Take for instance a good movie. When I am watching a film that has me so absorbed, I literally forget that I am currently sitting on a couch in my living room, and the AC is blasting since it’s over one-hundred degrees outside. It’s almost for a moment I fall into a movie coma and then an hour and a half to two hours later I realize I was supposed to change my laundry. The same can happen for these other forms of art, but what is strange to me is how all my senses become so involved with this good movie. I can suddenly smell the fresh cut grass or sense the same fear as a character while my heart beats a million miles an hour. The ability to escape life while you’re conscious is fairly difficult but not when you are being transported to another world through the charisma of a great narrative.
This is not to say we all lead lives of quiet desperation, but imagine the difference of watching a team hiking Mt. Everest on T.V. versus being there yourself. Because we don’t all have that privilege, stories have provided us a proxy for adventure. It is also by this same effort which we are inspired to want something greater and more sophisticated in life. Stories propel us not to just mimic what we value, but to establish new standards of what is achievable. Obviously, genre and the way in which stories are presented have a great deal to do with their own likeability, but dynamic art breeds a diverse culture. Different perceptions arise from contact with or without imparted knowledge contained in the annals of human history.
With billions of people on earth how would you like to chronicle your existence? I would suggest by starting with a journal, especially since you are the author of your life. Just keep in mind someday, somewhere, a crowd will be standing around a casket chitchatting at your funeral. What stories would you want them to tell?