01 Feb 2015

What is your story, Inigo Montoya?

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“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

Inigo Montoya, The Princess Bride,1987

If you’ve seen the movie,  “The Princess Bride,”  you know this quote and you know the story of Inigo Montoya.  The story of a boy who watched his father murdered because of a disagreement over the purchase of a sword.  It’s a really funny movie.  It’s a love story and a revenge story and Andre the Giant, plays a giant.  What more could you ask for?  (I can’t be the only one who used to have a 400 pound VCR to record Hulk Hogan and Andre play fight their way to stardom on the WWF).

There is a concept in writing called a “character arc.”  The idea is that through a narrative a character starts as one thing, progresses and becomes something else by the end of the story.  This change can be epic and global with historic implications or it can be imperceptible.

We are a story.  We have a beginning, a middle, an end, stuffed with everything in between.  We are the author of our own story.  We decide, who we want to be, who we love, who we don’t love and what impact we have on those around us and the legacy we leave behind. Since the pen is mightier than the sword (sorry, that was too easy not to use), we can change the plot and the players at anytime.  Princess Bride uses a narrator, which is something I love in movies (my Mom, really loved this story telling tool).  The narrator moves the story along and makes the viewer a silent, but complicit accomplice to what is going on.  To me, what makes this idea so powerful, is that not only are we the central character, we are also the witness to what happens in our lives.  We are constantly watching, recording and judging the results we get from our actions which exhibits who we really are.  I believe that this feedback loop holds the key to whether we look back on our life with satisfaction or with regret.

Kurt Vonnegut’s writing advice is to, “give the reader at least one character he or she can root for.”  Root for yourself! I challenge you (and by extension, I am challenging myself) to not go quietly and build a legendary life with meaning.  Let’s make noise.