Infuse Hope in Your Writing
It's a key ingredient in storytelling: hope. It’s worth thinking about for a few minutes and how it enters into your particular writing project. Think about whether you've included it in the elements of the story for the reader.
Typically during the holidays, my wife and I get to a movie or two. This past week, we caught The Pursuit of Happyness which is based on a true story. The movie trailer looked interesting and like something we would enjoy. My wife had seen Will Smith and the real Chris Gardner on the Oprah Winfrey Show. It looked like an interesting storyline. Chris Gardner struggles to survive in the world. He loses his marriage and his place to live (a couple of times) during the story. Yet the story is about the drive and genius and survival skills of Chris Gardner. He breaks into a position as a stock broker and in the final two or three minutes of the film, you learn that today he's a multi-millionaire.
There's my key phrase for you--in the final two or three minutes. Most of The Pursuit of Happyness is painful and struggle. Yes, you have to have some of these elements in good storytelling but almost two hours of pain was too much. Because this movie spends so few minutes on hope, you walk out of the film feeling overwhelmed and almost depressed. Now maybe you like to tell those types of stories but it’s not where I want to spend my days writing. I want to infuse hope into my writing and storytelling. The Pursuit of Happyness left a bad feeling with the viewers. My wife and I were eager to get to another film.
Last night we saw The Holiday, a romantic comedy. I noticed right away that I was one of the few men in the audience. Little groups of women came together to see this film. Our local newspaper gave it a two-star rating (out of a possible five stars). We were wondering about our selection. Before I tell you about the film, when we walked out of the movie, my wife said, "I could watch this one over and over. I'm ready to get the DVD version when it comes out." That feeling was in stark contrast to the first film.
The storyline for The Holiday evolves around two women. Amanda lives in Los Angeles and Iris lives in the snow-covered English countryside. Both of them are caught in horrible relationships and need a change of scenery. As the movie website explains, they discover a change of address can also change your life. While the adventure of trading homes on the spur of the moment is engaging, it’s what happens next that entertains and drives the plot. The characters are well-formed and the dialogue was engaging and I liked the plot twists. The newspaper reviewer probably didn't like the predictability of the resolution yet the feelings of hope were infused into this film. It made it a hit in our view and something that we could enjoy again and again.
The storyteller has to choose their themes and plot twists for each tale. Some stories lend themselves to including hope more than others but I'd recommend you include a healthy dose of a solid resolution in your stories. Think about what lasting feelings you want to leave with your readers. Ironically both of these films came from the same studio (Sony) and the feelings it left in the viewers were distinct. I'll take something like The Holiday every time.