We have been exploring Life Story narratives. We each have one; it is the dynamic, ever emerging story of your life! Life stories are as rich and full of meaning and drama as the most daring adventure tale or the most profound mythic Quest.
You are the author, editor, and the key protagonist, along with your significant relations, of your own epic tale. This week let’s add an authorial tip: find your Through Line. A through line is a simple statement that concisely encapsulates what your entire book or story is about. When editing a story, keeping your story’s through line in mind can guide you to remove extraneous material from your text. The rule of thumb is: if a passage does not advance the plot and reflect the through line, leave it out. This brings a more refined and compelling focus to your story, keeping it true to the storyline or plot structure you are meaning to convey.
What might a through line look like for a life story narrative; particularly, yours? To discover the through line of any story, you can ask, ‘What is this story all about, in a nutshell?’ A through line should be concise, no longer than a single clause or sentence.
For example, consider the movie Castaway (one of my favorite ‘transformational story’ tales). What is it all about, in a nutshell? I would say (and it could have a different meaning for you): “A man has a life altering experience from being stranded on a remote island as a ‘castaway’ for five years.” This through line makes sense of the entire Castaway story: what Chuck Noland’s life is like before the plane crash that strands him on a remote island; how his life experiences on the island challenge him and lead him to develop a capacity to be a resilient survivor who values life at all costs; and how his life has been altered by his castaway experience once he returns to ‘civilized’ life. This storyline also carries a universal message when you consider how ultimately we are each alone with our own deepest challenges.
So, what has your Life Story been about (up to now, at least), in a nutshell? You might revisit last week’s blog asking you to give a Title to your Life Story, and phrase your question around that title, or simply encapsulate how you think about your Life Story to date from your present perspective. You might also want to give yourself a heroic name to cast your through line in a third person format; this can help to bring you to a level of oversight or objective insight about your life AS story.
For example, the title I gave to my life story last week was A Merry (Carousel) Ride. My through line could be: Jeannne (cf. Joan of Arc) learns to ride the Ups and Downs of life, always seeking to find Balance and Meaning, linking Heaven and Earth as a spiritual adventure.
That is my quest, in a nutshell. How about YOU? You may use the Better Endings Story Seed prompt in the right panel to contemplate and/or journal about your own Life Story narrative. I welcome your feedback and comments on your own engagement with this tool.