JOY IS SHARED…
These are the only words spoken or written on the screen during “The Joy Ride.”
Let’s see how the story brings us to that conclusion.
In case you missed the previous installments of this series, I have been breaking down the elements that made me refer to this Amazon spot as a perfect, 60-second story:
These are the same elements you must include in your own stories for the stage, page or screen, whether you’re growing your business as an entrepreneur, speaker, author, business leader, filmmaker or novelist.
So watch the video one more time to see the final two stages of the story, the CLIMAX and AFTERMATH…
:52 As they all laugh together, the hero and her two lifelong friends slide to a stop at the bottom of the hill. We then see them come together, still laughing as they begin dragging their sleds back up the slope.
The Climax of your story is a SINGLE EVENT that resolves your hero’s visible goal. You must reveal this. It’s what your readers and audiences have been rooting for, and you have to let them experience the joy or satisfaction of victory (or the sadness or catharsis of death or defeat).
I always refer to this as the finish line the hero wants to cross, and in “Joy Ride” it is literally that. Our hero’s goal was to lead her friends down to the bottom of the hill. So the moment they successfully end that journey is the climax.
But a great story will almost never end the story there. The storyteller has to reveal the new life the hero is living now that they have completed the journey. This AFTERMATH lets the audience experience the rewards of finding the courage to overcome their fears and win.
As they happily unite, with two of them hugging, we see them begin their trek back up the hill – on foot. They are no longer stuck on their bench simply observing others’ joy. They are now participating in the fun. And the implication is that they will now slide back down again.
Which brings us to the hero’s INNER JOURNEY in this story – her transformation from living in fear to living courageously.
I admit that when I first saw this video, with a lump in my throat and tears in my eyes, I was simply swept up in the story. Even after decades of analyzing and talking about movies and television, I never think about these principles the first time I see one. It would spoil the fun and fulfillment of experiencing the emotion of the story..
And even as I realized what a great example it was, and how much I wanted to share my ideas about it with you, I didn’t imagine that a story only sixty seconds long could go deep enough to explore an Inner Journey in depth.
But it’s there.
When we first see the three women on the bench, they are stuck in their IDENTITIES. This is my term for the false selves we present to the world to protect us from our fears. These three characters see themselves as old. And they now use that identity to avoid taking risks.
They aren’t conscious of this. Our identities are designed to keep us safe, and they do so by making us believe this is who I really am.
So for these three, society’s attitudes, or perhaps their own personal physical setbacks and limitations, have made them afraid of doing something that used to bring them joy.
Although the hero is more robust and proactive than her two friends, even she has succumbed to this identity. She is also there just to watch sledders having fun. Otherwise she would have ordered the cushions before she arrived and brought them with her.
But when she sees the rather forlorn faces of the other two, she has an epiphany. Her desire to slide down the hill like a kid becomes greater than her fear of risking injury, humiliation, or whatever else has been holding her back.
So she stops trying to avoid her fear, and is willing to be afraid. And that Inner Journey from inertia to action is her transformation from living in her identity to living in her ESSENCE. She steps into the truth of who she truly is.
One of my favorite elements of the hero’s journey that Joseph Campbell revealed, and which I learned from my friend Chris Vogler, who brought Joseph Campbell’s principles to Hollywood, is the idea of bringing back the elixir: after completing his or her journey, a triumphant hero returns with a new understanding that then empowers others to change their lives.
In “The Joy Ride” the hero’s courage has transformed the lives of her friends by giving them the courage to step out of their identities and into their essence. And because they all benefit from her elixir, their Joy Is Shared.
This, even more than the emotion of three elderly women getting to be children again, is what makes this story universal. It touches us regardless of our age or sense of nostalgia.
Because we’re all sitting on some kind of bench, watching the world pass by in front of us. We all have some area of our lives where deep down we want to go after what we want, but our fear of risk, pain, failure, humiliation, or loss makes us inert.
Because of wounds from the past, we’re all stuck in identities that keep us safe but unfulfilled, convinced that that’s just who we are.
So when we see stories about heroes who find the courage to step out of their identities, who allow their fear to exist and then move through it to get what they want or need, we have our own subconscious experience of being courageous ourselves.
And when you, as a storyteller, can give people that experience of courage, you’re giving them the elixir that they will take into their own lives.
That is how you can have the greatest impact on your audiences, readers and followers.
And that is how you will transform their lives, and your own.
In the next email of this series, I want to add some final thoughts about the impact of this story, the differences between entertaining, advertising and branding, how stories connect with the subconscious, and how all stories are, in essence, marketing stories.
Happy holidays, and I’ll be back tomorrow with the final installment of this series.