Pride and Prejudice - The STORY GRID edition - Annotated by SHAWN COYNE




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ARCHIVES OF July, 2012

What It Takes

What It Takes

It’s All About The Cookies

By Callie Oettinger | Published: July 27, 2012

I used to hang out with Customer Service’s evil twin Customer Hell.

You might know him. He deflects problems like Roger Federer does tennis balls—he sends them in directions you aren’t expecting, until  you waste hours of time, scrambling to sort things out.

After years of being around him—whether at the phone company, the TV company, with home contractors (he gets around)—I picked up a few fleas. When things didn’t go right, I raised my voice, gave curt, sarcastic answers, belittled.  It was the only way I knew how to deal with Customer Hell.

And then I screwed up and I needed Customer Service to help me out.


Posted in What It Takes

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Inside the All Is Lost Moment

By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 25, 2012

We were talking last week about an All Is Lost Moment coming immediately before a Turning Pro moment. We cited Rocky, The Hangover and Big Night as examples. Sounds arcane, I know. Hang in with me.


George Clooney on his way to the All Is Lost moment in "The Descendants"

In a movie, the All Is Lost moment is that crisis (usually two-thirds to four-fifths of the way through the story) where the hero hits the wall. He has failed in all his efforts to attain his objective; he’s completely stuck. There’s no way out and no way forward.

In The Descendants, for example [screenplay by Alexander Payne and Nat Faxon & Jim Rash], the All Is Lost moment comes near the climax of the movie, in the ICU, when George Clooney’s character Matt King confronts his comatose wife (who had cheated on him and thus shattered Clooney’s belief in himself and his marriage—and then had the bad manners to get herself into a boat crash and wind up permanently comatose, so that Clooney can’t even get the satisfaction of hearing her side of the story, venting his rage, or even expressing his continuing love for her in a way to which she can respond.)

In this All Is Lost scene, Clooney’s character does all the aforementioned. But it’s a one-way street since his wife can’t answer—leaving him feeling cuckolded, alone, bereft, and a failure as a husband, a father, and a man.

The interesting question for you and me is, What is the critical component of this moment (and almost all other All Is Lost moments in life and in art)?

It’s the shattering of a cherished self-delusion.

The shattering of self-delusion is the bad news—and the good news. The bad news is that we have just crashed to earth. We have come to face to face with some excruciating truth about ourselves or our prospects, and we don’t know how to endure it. George Clooney’s character thought he was a good husband with a happy marriage and a healthy, well-balanced family. Now not only has this whole house of cards collapsed, but, worse, he realizes it was a delusion all along. His emotional response? “All is lost!” (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

Writing Wednesdays

The Turning Pro Moment

By Steven Pressfield | Published: July 18, 2012

Since the publication of Turning Pro a month ago, I’ve been doing a lot of thinking about certain concepts in the book. One that keeps sticking in my head—and demanding deeper inspection—is the moment of turning pro.

Big Night

One of the greatest All Is Lost moments comes from "Big Night"

I’m going to dedicate the next few weeks on Writing Wednesdays to further thoughts on this subject. I want to talk about its relationship to the All Is Lost moment, the two components of the All Is Lost moment (the second one of which I’m calling in my head the “breakthrough moment”)—and I want to talk about the “B” story and how that fits into the Turning Pro moment.

Does this sound arcane enough? Bear with me. It’s worth thinking about.

Let’s start with the All Is Lost moment. I’m indebted to Jen Grisanti, the author of Storyline and a well-known Hollywood script consultant, for laying out this concept, analyzing it and dissecting it. If you haven’t read Storyline, I highly recommend it.

Okay, what is the All is Lost moment? In a movie, it usually comes at the end of the second act. It’s the lowest point for the hero. In the All Is Lost moment, the hero is as far away from his goal as possible. (I’m interested in this, by the way, not so much for its utility in constructing a story or a screenplay as for its importance in real life. And particularly its part in the moment that makes us turn from amateurs into pros.)

In Rocky, the All Is Lost moment is when Rocky goes down to the arena, alone, the night before the big fight and realizes that he has no chance to beat the champ, Apollo Creed. In The Hangover, the All Is Lost moment is when the guys get “Doug” back—only to find that it’s the wrong Doug. In Big Night, it’s the moment after Primo and Secondo have their big fistfight on the beach and stagger off in different directions, knowing that their restaurant has just had its last night.

Almost every Turning Pro moment is preceded by an All Is Lost moment. The “breakthrough moment,” which follows, is the decision to turn pro.


One of the greatest Turning Pro moments comes from Rosanne Cash's "Composed"

What exactly happens in an All Is Lost moment, both in movies and in real life?

What happens is the hero—i.e., you and me—comes face to face with a lie he has told himself, a lie upon which he has based his entire life (or, in a movie, the sum of the events so far in the film.)

The lie is a self-delusion. It’s an act of denial, a cherished belief about ourselves or our prospects. When events compel us at last to see this self-delusion, our reaction is “All is lost!” We believe that we cannot live without this self-delusion. There is no way out. We’re finished. (more…)

Posted in Writing Wednesdays
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