Tuesday, June 24, 2008

Persistence Pays

on June 19, 2008
Every “no” is one step closer to a “yes.”

And I answered him:



You've raised a philosophical point that can generate many strong plots.

Good, commercially viable, stories come from listening to the popular philosophical undercurrents -- assumptions people use but don't challenge. Dramatize a challenge to one of those blythe assumptions and you generate a dynamite plot.

And you've done just that with this post.

There is a powerful, popular saying that insanity is doing the same thing over and over and expecting different results.

You have said keep doing it and you WILL generate different results - at least once, and once is all you need.

Our prevailing culture nurtures a "failure" attitude. If it doesn't work the first time, quit, or make random changes to avoid being thought "insane."

You have expressed the "heroic" attitude prevalent in science fiction, fantasy and action/adventure. Die hard.

These attitudes are diametric opposites. These two attitudes are "in conflict." Thus they form the backbone of a plot!

Science says we live in a world governed by probability. But science also says two people, in different places, doing the same thing will get the same results. Results are repeatable. That's the key to the scientific method.

Yet, science also says that you can throw the dice a certain way hundreds or thousands of times -- and no matter who does it or where, the dice will fall a specific way an exact percentage of the time. That is -- do the same thing over and over and get differing results in the short term but predictable results in the long term.

You have said in this blog that in the long term, the well constructed script will sell.

We know that if our dice are precision crafted (i.e. our scripts are properly structured), that it is a matter of random chance whether a given production company will need that particular script right at that particular moment.

We know that if the script is solid and we keep it on the market, it will sell -- or attract attention to another script we would love to sell.

One time in a thousand, or one time in ten thousand, we win. Persistence pays because the longer something has not happened, the more likely it is to happen. Keep at it long enough, and science says it is inevitable, repeatable and reliable.

But another good old saying holds that it's better to work smart than to work hard.

We need to spend the rest of this year on adjusting the ODDS, increasing efficiency, targeting specific markets.

Maybe a dramatized discussion of the definition of insanity would sell.


Now I wasn't specifically referring to an "Alien Romance" -- conflict applies to all story forms. But consider how these two human philosophical views might look to a non-human.

What do we think of a man who sets out to attract a woman -- and gives up the minute she shakes her head?

But what do we think of a man who persists "too" long -- i.e. a nerd. A stalker.

How could you explain to a non-human how hard and how long to pursue a human female?

Wars have been started over less. Galactic war isn't beyond imagining.

Take our current problems with Democracy vs. Islamic Fundamentalism.

The whole argument turns on a fine point of abstract philosophy -- that generates a whole plethora of overt behaviors (from dress modes to domestic violence).

The line between persistence and insanity is just exactly the same sort of abstract philosophical point -- that leads to a plethora of overt behaviors.

If we can't get along with other humans -- how can we get along with galactics?

On the other hand, there's a new TV show (which I haven't seen yet), a comedy involving a Moslem family in an ordinary US neighborhood. (I think that's the mix).

And we all know stories of various sorts of mixed-marriages with and without children.

Is it the role of women to reach across these philosophical chasms first -- to change the culture of the next generation? I've discussed that here, before, but it's an endless topic.

In the mating dance, does persistence pay -- or does it mark you as insane and undesireable?

Women look for heroism in a man -- which basically means "never say die" -- but is that really what we accept? Is the very trait that makes a person successful in life a blight on a Relationship?

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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