For me, because I deal in stories, it's easy for me to think that my life is like one. And, in a way, it is. I have a beginning, I'm currently in the middle (at least, I hope so), and eventually, on this earth, there will be an end.
See, the thing about studying writing (especially screenwriting) is that you start to see things in the mindset of the three act structure. It begins with the inciting incident, and that involves a choice, a choice our hero must make. Whatever he decides, that choice propels him to action, which eventually brings about the resolution. Of course, there will be set-backs along the way for our hero, but eventually he arrives at the end.
I think that this structure resonates with people because, in a sense, it's true. Life really is like this, situationally-speaking. Think about it... You meet someone. She is attractive. You have to make a choice - do you ask her out on a date or not? This choice on your end prompts her to have to make a choice. She accepts. This one situation and your subsequent choices concerning it propel you into eventual marital bliss... hopefully!
Isn't life exactly like that?
Umm, not exactly. Perhaps the girl that you asked out on the date didn't want to go. What then? Do you find a new girl to date? What if that girl doesn't want to go out with you? If it were a movie, it would probably be a dark comedy, and you'd eventually find yourself in some sort of weird situation where (depending on the mood of the screenwriter), you'd either die in the end or meet the quirky girl of your dreams.
But I digress.
You see, life is so much more complicated and boring and exciting than one story can encapsulate. In fact, I think our lives are many, many stories each. Some wrap up quickly, some last until you breathe your last breath. That's what's good to remember when you are feeling down about something in your life. It's possible that this is just one small story, one small subplot, after all. Or, it could be a big story that's just not resolved yet.
That might seem depressing, but that means there's still hope to cling to. Think about the best movies you've ever seen. Isn't it when the hero is most down, when things seem the bleakest, when all hope is seemingly lost that redemption comes? That's what we all long for, and I believe if you hold out as long as you can and you keep looking for it, and you keep fighting even when all things seem at a loss... redemption will come.
I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite authors.
I know. It’s all wrong. By rights we shouldn’t even be here. But we are. It's like in the great stories, Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were. And sometimes you didn't want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy? How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened? But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something, even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. They kept going, because they were holding on to something.”
Scott Keen is the author of three young adult fantasy novels, Scar of the Downers, Rise of the Branded, and War of the Downer King.