Jasmine's pond of dreams

Jasmine's pond of dreams

Thursday, February 14, 2013

An unexpected surprise from Kurt Vonnegut, storyteller's log

Right when I was writing my blog post about step 7 the symbolic death, I experienced a shock. Following a string of links on the internet  I came across a major surprise from Kurt Vonnegut. This was a major story twist.

It turns out that he, Kurt Vonnegut, also suggested mapping the ups and downs of the character! Here I thought I had discovered something totally original. Talk about ironic timing! I'm writing about the symbolic death and discover my theory was already discovered. Ahhhhh! The pain, the agony!

I had never read Vonnegut's work. Reading was always difficult for me until I started reading for information.

I think I went though the 5 stages of grief. The five stages of grief are actually really good to know as a storyteller, because many times your characters will go through these stages of grief and loss. It helps make your writing more emotionally authentic.

Here's a brief description of the stages:

1. Shock and denial. We don't want to have to deal with the loss. It's not supposed to happen.
2. Anger. We have energy unleashed that we don't know what to do with. Something was taken from us and we want justice. We may seek others to blame.
3. Bargaining. What if I did this or had done that? This is about trying to be in control again. We might even try to bargain with our creator.
4. Depression. There is real sadness about the loss that we experience, but there can also be depression which is where retreat from the world.
5. Acceptance. We may never fill the emptiness created by loss, but eventually we learn to live our lives again. Hopefully, we do this with a new sense of gratitude about life.

Here's how I handled it...

 First, is shock and denial. My first thought was Nooooo! How could someone else have come up with the same idea? Well, there is a reason why he was able to discover it. He studied chemistry and anthropology and compared stories from primitive peoples. Both chemistry and anthropology are about structures. He didn't drive the Aristotle highway, he took a different path. He had a different perspective just like I did that allowed us to see differently.

Stage 2 is anger. How could he discover "my" theory? And why didn't I know about it? Who does he think he is? Oh, right, he's Kurt Vonnegut.

Stage 3 is bargaining. I'll be coming back to this one. I realized that there were significant differences between his approach and mine, and some surprises I haven't told you about, yet. I'll top him.

Stage 4 is depression. Well this lasted a day or so. I have a theory to develop. And I have deadlines at work. Maybe that's just me compensating. However, I presented my material today to a large group and it really helps people gain insight into the story writing process. I love seeing the light bulbs go on when people see it for the first time.

Stage 5 is acceptance. How else can I look at this? This was an interesting question. How could someone else come up with the same idea? Then I realized that I came up with the same approach as Kurt Vonnegut! Then it went to my head. "Great minds think alike." It was like validation that I was really onto something. And I learned somethings about my theory from his approach that I might not have otherwise.

Maybe there's something to the idea of a blessings in disguise. Maybe they're opportunities to grow.

How does this ft into my story? Death, reorganization. new obstacle, handle it at new level.

Next time we'll look at Kurt Vonnegut's mapping the ups and downs of the character...

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