Month: December 2017

The Road Not Taken

By Callie Oettinger | 23 Comments

Exit the main streets of Washington, D.C., and you’ll find yourself driving through narrow chutes lined with parked cars, wishing your ride was a Mini Cooper. The same situation plays out in cities around the world, where buildings were constructed, and inner-city neighborhoods established, long before the rise of the automobile. A few weeks back, my mother visited Washington, D.C. She found herself near Eastern Market, behind a delivery truck on one of those narrow, one-way roads. Just before the intersection, the truck pulled tight to the right and stopped for a delivery. This left Mom with three options: 1)…

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The Villain Believes in "Reality"

By Steven Pressfield | 27 Comments

  It seems like a long time ago—pre-Trump, pre-Obama—but I remember vividly when Vice President Dick Cheney declared in the wake of 9/11 that to counter the threat of terrorism the U.S. was now going to have to start “working the dark side.” Cheney articulated this thought with barely-suppressed glee. I remember thinking at the time, “Wow, this guy is the ultimate movie villain,” not just because he was expressing a classic Dr. No/Dr. Evil/Dr. Strangelove sentiment but because his point of view contains more than a modicum of truth. I’ve always wished that Dick Cheney would write a book.…

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Making Connections

By Shawn Coyne | 6 Comments

So it’s the mid-1980s and as young men do, Malcolm Gladwell and his friend Jacob Weisberg throw a lot of parties at their Washington D.C. rental on Adams Mill Road and Kenyon Street. At one such low rent Bacchanalia, Gladwell shoots the breeze with Jefferson Morley, an assistant editor and one of the supervisors along with Michael Kinsley and Dorothy Wickenden of the bright young politico Weisberg at The New Republic. Gladwell brings up a story Morley wrote for the July 9 1984 edition called “Double Reverse Discrimination.” In The Washingtonian “Gladwell’s Brain” profile by Chris Wilson on January 8,…

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The Villain Embodies the Counter-theme

By Steven Pressfield | 9 Comments

   If our hero’s object is to save the world, our villain’s object is to destroy it. Whatever the protagonist wants, the antagonist wants the opposite. But it’s a little more complicated than that. Every story must have a theme. It must be about something. The theme, as Blake Snyder so helpfully declares in Save the Cat!, is the case that the story is making to the reader.   Better to sacrifice oneself (or one’s personal happiness) for the greater good than to live a life of prosperous selfishness.   Or   We are defined by our past and cannot…

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My Secret

By Callie Oettinger | 25 Comments

(I read “this is stupid,” a post by Wil Wheaton, this week. I felt his pain. It reminded me of where I was last year when I wrote the article below. If you’re out there reading this, and think that the rest of us have “it” together, that we’re enjoying every bit of our work, that it all comes with ease, you’re wrong. It’s hard. It’s tiring. Often, all I want to do is head to the beach. But . . . Not even Kahuna stayed on the beach year round. He headed to work like the rest of us, and I’m pretty…

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The Villain is Not Always a Person

By Steven Pressfield | 21 Comments

  Or even a creature. Sometimes the villain is entirely inside the characters’ (almost always the protagonist’s) head. The villain can be a fear, an obsession, a desire, a dream, a conception of reality, an idea of what “the truth” really is. The villain in Blade Runner 1978 would seem at first glance to be the replicants, Roy Batty (Rutger Hauer) and his team of Leon (Brion James) and Pris (Daryl Hannah), who have escaped off-world and come to Earth sowing destruction. But the real villain is an idea—the conception of creating faux-human slave labor. The replicants are actually the…

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Combatting the "DQ"

By Shawn Coyne | 4 Comments

How do you tune out dismissive quips about your work? Here’s an edited post from www.storygrid.com that explains and all too familiar event for anyone who has accomplished anything… Ten years ago, I had knee replacement surgery. As one is required to do after being made bionic, I imprisoned myself post-op at home. Rehab centers are strictly for the better insured. For the first two weeks, I remained doped up on Oxycodone in between grueling physical therapy sessions. A charming older woman, an emigre from the Philipines, came to my apartment every afternoon at 2:30. And tortured me…but in the…

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The Villain Drives the Story

By Steven Pressfield | 15 Comments

  I sometimes get asked, “Why does Resistance exist?” It’s a good question. Why did Creation include this monster? For what purpose? Just to screw us all up and make life difficult? (When I say “Resistance,” I mean in story terms “the Villain.”) Isn’t Resistance entirely negative? What possible evolutionary purpose could it serve? Here’s my answer. It might not be anybody else’s answer, but it’s mine.   Resistance gives meaning to life.   Or to put it in narrative terms:   The villain gives meaning to the story.   Think about it. If there were no villain, there’d be…

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Spend Your Time

By Callie Oettinger | 21 Comments

I. The patient took the pain medicine as prescribed and didn’t understand why the doctor was upset. Patient’s point of view: He was in pain and followed the instructions on the bottle. Doctor’s point of view: The pain medicine was prescribed by the patient’s veterinarian, for the patient’s dog. II. The drug rep walked into the doctor’s office dressed as the Grim Reaper and didn’t understand why the doctor asked him to leave. Drug rep’s point of view: It was Halloween, he was having fun. Doctor’s point of view: He had patients with life-threatening diseases/illnesses. The last thing they needed…

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