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Writing Stories to Change the World

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Donald: In workshops, one of which you attended, I do push authors to take whatever problems the protagonist is facing in a novel and make those problems worse. The reason for that Rob is that many manuscripts by pre-published authors don't really have enough happening in the middle of the story. They need more events, they need more things happening and one way to do that is to make whatever problem is at hand worse, more complicated in some way. Now you mentioned Job, it would be a little hard to make Job's life harder. Poor guy had a pretty rough time, but remember that not all problems are big, not all problems are earth shaking. Some problems are personal, some problems are small, some problems are interior; those too can have profound impact on the page in a novel.

It's not about tormenting a character physically or sending them on the run or something like that. That works in commercial fiction-- that's fine-- but for other kinds of fiction, the tension can come from other kinds of problems. If it's an interior problem, a journey of self-discovery or healing or even growing up--what we call a coming of age story, you can raise the stakes. You can make the problem worse, but it entails making the problem matter more to that character. Raising the personal stakes means whatever the character has to do or discover or learn becomes more critical to that person. So it's not about blowing up the world or sun nova necessarily. It's about making a nova inside a character. So, there are many, many different ways to create tension. Not everybody needs to be Job in order for a story to be really compelling reading.

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Rob Kall has spent his adult life as an awakener and empowerer-- first in the field of biofeedback, inventing products, developing software and a music recording label, MuPsych, within the company he founded in 1978-- Futurehealth, and founding, organizing and running 3 conferences: Winter Brain, on Neurofeedback and consciousness, Optimal Functioning and Positive Psychology (a pioneer in the field of Positive Psychology, first presenting workshops on it in 1985) and Storycon Summit Meeting on the Art Science and Application of Story-- each the first of their kind.  Then, when he found the process of raising people's consciousness and empowering them to take more control of their lives  one person at a time was too slow, he founded Opednews.com-- which has been the top search result on Google for the terms liberal news and progressive opinion for several years. Rob began his Bottom-up Radio show, broadcast on WNJC 1360 AM to Metro Philly, also available on iTunes, covering the transition of our culture, business and world from predominantly Top-down (hierarchical, centralized, authoritarian, patriarchal, big)  to bottom-up (egalitarian, local, interdependent, grassroots, archetypal feminine and small.) Recent long-term projects include a book, Bottom-up-- The Connection Revolution, debillionairizing the planet and the Psychopathy Defense and Optimization Project. 

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Over 200 podcasts are archived for downloading here, or can be accessed from iTunes. Rob is (more...)
 

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