Nothing New Under the Sun

"What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done; there is nothing new under the sun." Ever heard this?

As a storyteller, this can be a very limiting view.  Or is it?

Romeo_and_JulietWilliam Shakespeare's version of Twilight

A prominent screenwriter in Hollywood, David Freeman, gave a seminar.  There are hundreds of seminars I could have attended, but why did I go to his?  If you go to his site, he talks about techniques in writing.  No theories.  In fact, he gave so many techniques, it was like getting a trunk full of tools.  And in any one job, it’s highly unlikely you’ll use all of them, but you’ll definitely use enough to make your story emotional, something he emphasizes a lot.

He agreed with the quote above, but in a very un-limiting way.

I love going to movies, and one of the pleasures is seeing the previews.  I hate missing the previews like I hate missing the beginning of any movie.  One movie I’m anticipating is Avatar.

When I first saw it, I thought, James Cameron stole my idea!  WTF Cameron?  How’d you hack into my PC?

As I watched the preview, his premise was different.  Similar but different.

Then an image sparked in my mind.  American Indians gazing out into the sea as English ships sailed toward them.

The story of the Native American Indians against pioneering pilgrims is a familiar one.  It’s empire building.  The conflict?  The natives don't want to leave.

Look at Braveheart.  I love that movie.  It’s the same thing.

Look at the battle of Thermopile, 300.

Look at the Mongols invading China.

Look at China’s history of the seven independent states warring against each other for power.

Look at Star Wars.

Look at King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table.

We have tons of stories based on the idea of oppression.  Sometimes the story ends with unification, like China and the seven states.  Sometimes we have stories of independence, like William Wallace’s fight for Scotland’s freedom.  But they all stem from a single idea.

Avatar is no different.  A powerful force, in this case us in the far future, wants something, a valuable mineral.  To mine it, we have to “politically” move a native race.  Easy enough.  But wait!  The native people don’t wanna move.

And the story begins.

Freeman said there were an unlimited amount of stories that could be told using the story computer.  Look at any story that you love or connect to.  Find a variation.

Turn the hero into a heroin.

Change the race.

Change the time.

Change the setting.

Change anything.

Look at Romeo and Juliet.  Change the time to the present.  Make the male a brooding, James Dean-looking vampire.  Now you have Twilight.

The Princess and the Frog is a great example.  What do we expect to happen when the princess kisses the frog?  The frog should turn to her prince.  But Disney was like, “Hell no. Dat’s been dun.  Da princess should turn to a frog, sucka!”

OK.  I doubt Disney execs would talk like that.  But they used the story computer to churn out what seems like a great story.

The Seven Provinces is a familiar story.  It's about empire building.  It's an underdog story.  It's about a man trying to protect his family in a time of war.  It's about oppression, betrayal, tragedy.  And much more.

There may be nothing new under the sun.  But that doesn’t mean new stories can’t be told using familiar themes.

Is Passion Needed in Life?

Passion.  Is it important?  People talk about it all the time.  Lovers look for it.  Artists seek it in their muse.  Musicians sing about it over and over.  If passion is important, do people need it in their lives?  And should every one have it? Passion is one of my main themes that I explore in my book.  Because it's a novel, I can't lecture about it.  I explore it from both the hero and antagonist.  Kinda like William Wallace and King Edward I in Braveheart.  For passion can infect people who are both ethical and horrid.

My coworker said passion is important but not necessary to live.  "Someone needs to work at Walmart," she stated.  That's true.  Someone needs to do farm work, run the Mickey D's, man the gas stations, pick up the garbage.  "Look at our company," she said.  There's about 36,000 employees.  "Our company couldn't run itself.  It needs us."

Again, all those are true statements.

But isn't freedom of choice the freedom to choose what you do in life?  For many years I've searched for my passion, the thing that took me out of time, out of my daily drudgery.  If you've read my bio, you know it's telling stories.  I love it.  Do I love every single part of it?  No.  But do I love it almost all the time?  Most definitely.

I have my day job.  However, it's only a means to an end.  That's it.  Nothing more.

Michelangelo is famous for painting the Sistine Chapel and sculpting David among other things.  I was listening to Dr. Wayne Dyer, and he said Michelangelo's passion was sculpting.  His day job was the Sistine Chapel.  I thought that was interesting.

Without my passion for stories, I'd be lost.  I've been lost before and it sucked.  That state of limbo led me to mine.

I think William Wallace said it best in the movie.  "Every man dies.  Not every man lives."

So, is passion needed?  And are my coworker's statements just a shield to protect her from her own power to create what she wants in life?

Do we need loyalty?

What do you think? Is loyalty something we need? If you ask most guys who are in a monogomous relationship, they'll say yup. Then why in both life and fiction we see cheating as an explored theme? Look at the show Desperate Housewives. What if you're commanding an army? Is loyalty needed? That would be a hell yeah! Without it the commander's army would fall into chaos.

In friendships loyalty is important. My best friend and I are both writers, and when we read each others work we're also honest. We're honest because our friendship is strong enough to withstand honesty. Because if your friendship is built on niceties, then that house of cards is easily destroyed.

I can tell a lot by reading a person's level of loyalty. Do people invite you to things for their own reasons, or do they leave you out to fend for yourself? Do people call you if they need you or just because. Seeing the differences can tell you a lot about a person's character. And when I write, I do everything that I can to infuse physical and conversational elements to communicate their level of loyalty. I think this technique can be called foreshadowing because I am foreshadowing what the character might do when put between a rock and a hard place.

Stories like Braveheart and Bridge on the River Kwai explore the theme of loyalty well.

Loyalty to yourself, your passion is the most important. For example, are you at a job where you have passion? If not, then admit it. Take the time to ask what you'd love to do if money were no object. A truth in life I see repeated over and over is when one follows their passion with great commitment, everything else like money falls in place. I've experienced that many times in my life. True success comes from living a life of passion and purpose.

So I ask you to answer this question. Do you wish for something more in life right now? If you do, then you've taken the first step to change your life. The realization you want more. Find what it is, dream big, and take the next step to do it.

Want to be a bestselling author? Then you must first write a book. Want to be a great actor? Learn how to act, then go out and act. You must start somewhere. Inaction is a sure way to failure.