Face the danger and then pull away - advice for screenwriting?
Sunday, August 4, 2019 at 3:02PM
David E. Tolchinsky

I went river rafting recently on the green river in Utah with a group of friends, some new, some old. For me it was my first time navigating a river with rapids, uncertain currents, rocks, and shallows.  The expert rower who I was with taught me to “face the danger and then pull away” meaning point the raft directly at the danger, whether shallows or rocks or whirlpool, in order to have maximum maneuvering ability away from it.  Pulling is your strongest stroke, so pulling is what you must do.  The worst thing you can do is ignore the danger or just try to paddle past it, you will be sucked in sideways. 

I thought about this as a metaphor for characters, storytelling, and life in general. Face the danger - there is no parallel existences in screenwriting. Our characters must face each other directly - our protagonist must look at our antagonist directly in order to figure out how to defeat the antagonist.  Seeing. Confronting. Defeating.
As writers, we must face our own obstacles - writers’ block, or unclear concepts or an aspect of the story that feels distant.  If we don’t, we can’t do what we have to do and create the story we need to create. We can’t just paddle past it . . we can’t just ignore the problem. We must face it, and defeat it by pulling away from it. 
In life, we cannot ignore our fears, worries, or the voices that might attack us (such as a voice of shame or criticism from a relative, boss or teacher, whether present or internalized.). We must face that obstacle, that voice, that worry straight on - acknowledge it, look at it, hear it - then we can figure out how to defeat it.  Sometimes it’s just the acknowledging that needs to be done. Once you can admit your fear or admit your weakness or see that it is not you that is the problem but those around us who might wish us harm, you can move past it. You can pull away into safe waters.   
Face the danger and then pull away from it. Good advice for us all.

 

#screenwriting #writing #storytelling #rafting #rapids 

 

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