Friday, July 19, 2013

Does Your Story Have a Character with a Propelled Heart?

by Bill Johnson

In yoga, when a worldly person decides to do what is necessary to gain spiritual understanding, he or she is said to have a propelled heart.

This makes the aspirant different from worldly people reacting to events or their own thoughts but not necessarily getting off their particular track in life. It's about making a clear-minded decision about what path to take it in life.

Movies please us because unlike life, they suggest a worldly person can develop a propelled heart and create a different, better life.

The Interns offers an example of a propelled heart.

Yes, this is a formula film. Once you know a character's arc, you know where they'll end up in the film. And up front, Owen Wilson and Vince Vaughn are always Owen and Vince to me, no matter what characters they play.

In the film, Owen and Vince are glib, gregarious salesman. Not great salesman, but good enough to mostly get by, until they lose their jobs and can't find any comparable sales jobs or other jobs that would promise to pay them a comparable amount. Desperate, they maneuver their way into becoming interns for Google with the potential of a job if they are part of a winning team of interns.

Owen meets a female executive. He's attracted to her and makes a decision that he needs to change his life and become something more than a glib salesman. So he makes an effort to do what is necessary to win a team competition to become a Google intern.

He has a propelled heart.

It's not much, its obvious, but it works and makes for a better, more fulfilling film. A film that has a heart.

Vince Vaughn's character takes action in ways that advance the plot, but his actions aren't rooted in anything deeper than that. He is in service to the plot, which is fine to the degree that his actions match up with the formula of the story.

Again, this is a formula film, and such films often have a transparent structure and simple, defined characters arcs, but having a character with a propelled heart helps such a story resonate with an audience.

Does your script have a character with a propelled heart?

Looking at your life as a story, do you have a propelled heart?

If not, you can experience it at the movies.


To read some of my longer reviews of popular movies, visit my website or check out my writing workbook, A Story is a Promise, available on Amazon Kindle. Or, find me on Google+ and tell me what you think.