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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Thursday, January 15, 2015

Strategy # 7 Harmful Dangers: Duress

Build Your Story: 8 Strategies for Writing Innovative Setting with Impact


Physical trials often form the core of adventure movies. Like Hercules facing his twelve Labours we wonder will the hero overcome all the obstacles or will he perish? But we also don’t really expect a deep character change in James Bond or Indiana Jones. We simply enjoy the ride.

In physical dangers though, the stress is a mountain that must be conquered regardless of the cost. In fact it is quite realistic that the physical challenges will succeed in overpowering our characters. James N. Frey, in his book The Key, points out that a hero’s journey does not necessarily mean the hero will survive, but rather that he succeeds and if he perishes—he dies victorious. In Cold Mountain, Inman walks for months to reach home and the woman he loves. He suffers wounds, hunger, danger, capture, exhaustion, and the elements. He succeeds only to be killed.

In the movie Hugo, the isolated boy faces duress every day under the weight of his secret and the possibility that if he is caught he will be locked away in a workhouse orphanage.

Writing Exercise: Choose a movie you have seen recently and pick out one or two examples of each of the following dangers that might apply.

Natural danger

Man-made danger

Physical danger

Psychological danger

Spiritual danger

Share: Which one had the most impact on you? Why?

Read deep, marcy

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