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Stories from a seasoned screenwriter. Take heart! Your creative source is infinite and un-ending. Sometimes Hollywood just rips up the roadmap back to it. The bottom line is that Hollywood is not at all as bad as it sounds. Additionally, it's worse than you can imagine. Remember to pack a sense of humor.


I am a screenwriter living in Southern California. I've written screenplays for most of the Hollywood studios over the past 20 years. One of the uncredited writers of FANTASTIC FOUR, I wrote FIRE DOWN BELOW starring Steven Seagal, and the TV Movie 12:01 PM starring Martin Landau and MANEATER with Gary Busey. I have directed short films. I have written on numerous Hollywood studio assignments, some for big shot actors, some for small shot nobodies.

Thursday, August 25, 2005

The Second Act Slump

God, I hate it. I think it is what kills most prospective writers (and pros) from finishing original work, and it's what we all curse and bemoan and torture our wives, pets, or significant others during, and often finish only during assignments because - well, we have a deadline.

And it's what I'm in now. And I had a really good outline.

So what does it mean?

Simple. Not enough tension.

How many times have we all sailed happily up to the first act break and then stopped as if we had reached the flat end of the world, and beyond is the fall into the abyss? Oh, you haven't? Woops.

A good friend of mine, an award winner, says he has more great first acts than anything else, and has no idea what to do with half of them.

I think that's par for the course. We all have great ideas like that. What makes for a long form work is mounting tension, the beginnings of unfinished business, and the characters that play these ideas out over multiple story lines, slowly answering the small questions, until the big question is answered at the end.

So it's crucial in act one, to begin starting your unfinished business. That is the tension that crosses over from act one into act two and beyond, in and under the main story of your hero. Sure, he/she has ever increasing problems or confusions. But along with that are the secondary stories that are asking their own questions, supporting characters coming into conflict, setting up betrayals, enemies who may become friends, etc.

Look there to find the key to unlock the slump.

Tuesday, August 23, 2005

Adjustments to Comments

There is a slightly new look to the site. A pop up window for comments, which I think will help anyone who wants to post, as you can flip easily back to the blog and check a post. And now I am forced to have "word recognition" as part of posting a comment, to block out the evil computer moron spammers who have recently glommed on to me to post shameless and stupid ads in the guise of personal posts - only to come off as posted by someone with severe head trauma on heavy duty pain meds typing in the dark to whom English is a second, possibly third language.

Well, no more of that.

Anyway, I take it as a good sign!

Don't Forget The Rules

A condensed rehash of everything discussed here over the last weeks and months.

Morton's Rules of Script Management

1) Blink Characters. (Inspired by the book "Blink" by Malcolm Gladwell. In which he theorizes a person can know more about an object in a two second glance, than in six months of research. Fascinating idea.) Forget the 40 pages of pre-history backstory you're supposed to write about a character. Look at the guy at the bus stop. Do you have a sense about him? How does he talk? What his life has become? That is your "unconscious knowing" about something. Trust it more than the 40 pages of research. Write THAT into your character so you know them instantly, and by the second line of dialogue, we know them.

2) Start deep in the middle. Especially at the beginning. This could mean starting with a plane crash, of which the story is about. Or starting deep into your character's story, who may not have made the plane yet, but who's life is at the breaking point.
Start Deep from a character point of view: Is their emotional breaking point obvious? Is their emotional breaking point not obvious but ready to go? Or, are they at any breaking point, but their world is? And in that cataclysm they will be forced to face the true nature of their soul, which will challenge them on every level, and allow them to become who they truly are, something they dearly needed?
Start Deep from a structure point of view: You start in the middle of a story, or at the beginning of a story on some edge, where upheaval is imminent, to change the world, and that change comes into direct conflict with the hero on every level, bringing about the suffering required to shatter the hero from their complacency into a new place of their true self. And with that new self, they head to the story's end.

4) Hero Rule (there's just one). Make things bad for the hero. T hen make them really bad. Then make them worse. That's the rule. Remember, you're not the hero's friend. Don't shy away from putting them through the blender, whether physical or emotional.

5) Bad Guy in your Face. Whatever the hero wants? The bad guy can't let it happen. So he or his energy has to be around, and be formidable. Opposites attract. People forget this sometimes.

6) Don't Ever Resolve Tension. And I'll say it again. Keep tension high and DON'T resolve it. You may provide answers in scenes that directly speak to questions you've raised earlier, but keep new questions coming, and please leave the BIG one unanswered until the end.

7) Tight Alignment. Keep the hero, the bad guy, the emotional draw and the hero's task tightly aligned. Keep all confrontations tightly wound along the straight line of your story. And please keep the confrontation frequent in your orchestration and structure.

8) Stay Emotional. Make sure it's all coming from a character's need, or you're just writing stage directions.

9) Open The Heart. Vulnerability, loss, selflessness, sacrifice, giving to another before themselves, surrender, death (and re-birth) are all the pots of gold at the end of the hero's rainbow. That is their victory, receiving that moment of grace, when they become bigger than they were at the beginning, and embrace and expand into everything else!

Comedy vs. Drama in first drafts

Some very interesting posts lately, good points, good advice, good personal stories, thanks to all as I think it helps anyone who comes to read. Something to take away from all of us. Particularly on the last few posts about speed writing.

It shows there are many paths to the same goal, the trick I guess is to stay on the path, don't get off and wash the dishes, then go out for coffee, then come home and take a nap. (That was almost a full day of writing for me in my twenties).

Steve Peterson's post got me to thinking. A great quote from Hitchcock, or a great half remembered quote anyway:
"I read somewhere that Hitchcock would tell the writer to work out all the action, then once that was write fill in the dialogue at the end."
There's something fabulous about this, as it shows Hitchcock's origins as a silent film director, and a real visualist. A true creator of stories in pictures, he knew how an able writer could fill in the emotional chaff that now had to fill up his talkie.

But I write both comedy and drama. And it made me realize, if I were to do that with a comedy - just write a simple action version of it, it will of course look like a drama. Because a good comedy has just as much dramatic structure in it as a good drama. Sure, you could pepper it with jokes, I've had to do so in treatments. But you can't do that in the long form, blasting through a comedy script.

The tone is what makes a comedy different.

Action is action, clear cut desire vs. opposition to desire. If there is misbehaviour in relationships and situations, it makes for great story telling.

Comedy is laminated. You are protected from the misbehaviour in relationships and situations during the same desire vs. opposition to desire, because of the TONE. You know you don't have to feel the character's emotional pain, as their reactions tend to be emotionally inappropriate, and that of course is why it is funny. And that, of course, is why it's safe to laugh at them.

So the language in a comedy is crucial. As are the excess and insanity in the same "misbehaviour in relationships and situations."

In the end, it means you have to be able to write funny, or it won't be funny, regardless of how well structured it is.

So the point of this post is the feeling that it's important to write funny from page one in your first draft as you proceed, because if there's no air in the balloon, no cheese in the souffle, no whip in the cream, it'll just be flat pages of writing.

And someone please make me stop using extra colorful descriptors, please.


As this pertains to first draft work, or speed writing I feel; whereas you can blast forward with dramatic structure and script in a first draft, like Hitchcock asked of his writer, with the knowing that one you can go back and fix character work if the structure is sound, you can feel assured that the whole thing will play.

But the same is not so for a comedy.

Not in my experience, anyway. It has to be funny as you roll along, or it's just a bad drama. So in that case, I do recommend going back, finding the funny thread, understanding the character oppositions, weaknesses and impossible situations that make it funny, and continue writing from there, generating pages that are funny as you proceed.

Saturday, August 20, 2005

Rewriting As You Go. When is Enough, Enough?

This is a tricky one. Really tricky for me. I write quickly. This doesn't mean I finish a project quickly, however, it means I generate a lot of pages. And, as all writers know, as you write, things will begin to reveal themselves as you head into your story.

Unexpected things, fabulous things, bizarrre things and bad things.

All these things you may never have imagined at the onset, even with your fabulous outline. But now that you've found them, you may want to include them in your work, which means changing your piece. And sometimes that means changing your piece from the beginning.

Before you've gotten to the end.

So there you are on page 15, and you suddenly realize a brilliant idea that needs to be teased on page two, so you have to go back and adjust.

Or maybe you get the sound of a character's voice right on page thirty. (I've done that. Thought I had it on page one, but boy was I wrong. And when it came in right, it was so clear!)

So that means I want to go back and spruce up that guy/girl up from the onset, so they talk correctly, right? Otherwise when I read the whole draft back it will feel wrong in the beginning.

As some of you know, I'm testing myself to see if I can write a script quickly, like in a few weeks. I'm 40 pages in, but I have just realized a major character change needs to be made and some structural changes put into the first act, changes that I wasn't aware of two days ago, but I realize now are crucial, or the script will really not work.

How did I figure this out? Not enough tension in act two.

Hey, everything seemed to work fine in my short outline, when I started, re-writing was not in the plan, okay?

but I realized as I was writing, that my characters were not orchestrated correctly. There's nothing worse than forced writing. You become aware of it when you're constructing scenes that are situationally tense, but lack tension from the character's drive or need. This is usually what "b" writing or "pulp" writing is - but no offense meant to Bill Cunningham over at Disc/ontent whose blog I reccomend for some very interesting reading about some very challenging writing in impossible time frames.

Anyway, back to me.

So now I'm re-writing the first 40 pages. This puts a real damper on the whole daily page count thing, as there isn't one suddenly. I'm rehashing the delta of the stream, the first bubblings of the pot, because I feel if I don't get jazzed by the tension up front, I can't fake it all the way through.

But I was supposed to blast straight through to THE END, right?

So this has made me think - when does it serve you to go back and re-write, while you are still in your first draft?

Or - the real question: when are you actively enhancing and deepening your project, and when are you just spinning your wheels and wasting your time?

Or shall we put it this way: when are you shaping like a glass blower and polishing a fine object, and when are you caught in a loop, perhaps using the "endless rewrite" to avoid finishing on some unconscious level? (Don't laugh, I know people who've gone into therapy after years of inability to finish projects and have discovered this).

Rod Serling, who cranked out just about every episode of the Twilight Zone in the first three years, and most in the last two, said it took him several days to write a whole teleplay, a week from idea to finished script. He pretty much knew by the second day to drop an idea if he wasn't cranking pages. This is becuase he felt it wasn't working on some level. He knew it instinctively. He didn't take the luxury of figuring out why, he just dropped it, cut the weeds and moved on to a new idea. Because the energy wasn't there, the tension wasn't in the writing, the delight wasn't in the idea, whatever.

Re-writing while you write is kind of like this. And I think I can boil it down to some simple rules or ideas.

1) You must start with a very clear premise, so you know where you start and where you finish.

2) Any adjustments you make must sharpen the premise.

3) Any adjustments you make must increase the conflict between the characters or raise the stakes for the hero, but not change the premise.

4) Any adjustments you make must bring the hero, his desire (love interest or task), and his opponent's refusal to let it happen, all come into direct opposition, without changing the premise.

I really think that's it. Anything else, and you're spinning your wheels. Sure we can discuss new characters, second opponents, new reversals, there's a lot of cool things you can come up with as you write. But I think it comes down to not breaking the above rules. Otherwise you are probably writing tangentially, off topic, or into cool parallel universes of your story that in the end won't be your story.

Focus. Don't relent. Come up with a good premise. Assemble and oppose the characters. Keep them drawn tight to your premise line. And if there is no tension, or they begin to stray, that's a warning sign. And check the rules above.

And let me know if I missed any.

Wednesday, August 17, 2005

Speed Writing/staying on point

In order to write a piece quickly, you must have an idea of who is going to be in it, (character, not casting. Seeing an actor in a part you're writing can be an interesting tool, however, but it's for another post). and you must know the broad path of their story. You need to have a sense of the beginning, middle, end, obstacles, breakthroughs and showdowns.

Now remember, speed writing isn't for everyone. But it might be the thing to knock the cobwebs off an old idea, or the hesitancy out of a new one. If your process is one that is easily distracted, or caught up in double think, jamming through on an urgent deadline might help you to sit in your chair, focus and come up to speed.

And the only way you'll do it, is if you have an idea of what it is you already want to write.

A tremendous amount of energy goes into the shaping of the macro idea once inspiration has struck. To outline it, or beat sheet it, or flow chart it, or whatever your process is, requires real promethean fire, to turn clay into life. and that's just in outline form. Is it exciting? Does it have energy? To see the big picture, no pun intended, one has to work.

Only when you're there, can you take advantage of trying to blast through the many scenes, interactions and nuances that make up a screenplay. If you're trying to come up with the story, while racing through it to get to the end, you'll mire yourself in the swamps of creative confusion, where many choices seem possible, many directions seem valid and off you race at the same breakneck speed, while trying to build the road you're racing on at the same time.

Don't do it, it doesn't work.

And I know. Because I've tried that, and learned the hard way.

This time I know where I'm going. I know the shape of the story, the charcters, and what ails them. I haven't solved all the little problems, but I know the big ones. And I think that's crucial. As we write, the little details begin to change anyway, but if your glass is solid enough, you can fill it.

Just remember to have a clear lock on your character (s). Everything comes from them at the start, and it all flows from them in the end.

Monday, August 15, 2005

Speed Writing

Can one write a good screenplay in a short time? It's certainly been done. I did it once in my twenties and sold it. Haven't been able to pull it off again. Why? Who the hell knows?

The fascinating thing about screenwriting is that the structure is so well delineated at this point, that if one can build that house, and has the channel open inside them to populate it with real living characters, then time would seem to be a non-dependent function of the process.

Some should be able to do this quickly, some will require a very long time (I have a friend who writes a script and it takes a year - if he's doing an original, and he's brilliant and very highly regarded).

Of course my friend has learned to adapt to the rigorous time demanding schedule of the professional scribe as well, it's something any professional writer needs to do, period. Regardless of where your paycheck is written, we all write to deadlines. Newspaper, television, news or creative, it's all very demanding.

So, don't feel badly if you can't write like a speeding freight train, is the message. You write at your own speed. However, if you crave a job on the speeding freight train, you're going to have to amp up your muscle and figure out how to get to speed. If you're creating an original feature, then it matters less. When you sell the original feature and are asked to re-write it in 8-12 weeks, it will matter more.

So all this has gotten me to thinking about speed. I can write quickly for others in a professional capacity. I've built up the ability after years of requiring to do so. (I couldn't do so when I started and sold my first pieces, by the way, and lied and said I could and then had to figure out how).

But now that I can, I haven't written quickly for myself in years. Why not?

Sometimes I've been very busy. But what about the times when I haven't been? I'm afraid I have fallen into the category of writer who's a little bit precious about their own work, I want to drench it in time, and then in my case - lose the thread and stare back at the mess and go - WTF? Why was I connected to this in the first place? Can't I get a re-write gig somewhere?

Writing quickly prevents you from losing that connection. There are other issues, but that's not one of them.

So I'm going to give this a shot and see if I can pull one out of the hat. I'm ten pages into a new piece, and will see if I can finish it in two weeks. Why the hell not? The only thing holding any of us back is hard work, commitment and belief in ourselves. Relatively, we've got it pretty easy if you look at what's going on in the rest of the world.

Saturday, August 13, 2005


Well, it's my birthday. So I'm taking the day off. Wow. What a concept. Should do this more often. Had a lot of fun!

Friday, August 12, 2005


Someone has asked me to re-title an old project It's a lot harder than it seems. And as my producer friend came up with a rather straightforward (and therefore unexciting option), which I declined, I realized it fell to me to think of one. And it's not so easy. And so it got me to thinking about titles.

I think a good title is a very important aspect to your work.

Titles are the first thing anyone hears or sees. It has a job.

And the job is twofold.

First fold: your title has to promise some aspect of what your story delivers, So no stupid generic titles please. But something simple, cryptic, or fragmentary that is a promise, or a tease of a promise. ("Jaws" Dramatic, simple. You see the point. But "Lost In Translation" is also brilliant, and very poetic.)

Second fold: (already hinted at) your title needs to be compelling, teasing, odd, eye catching - funny, if you can manage it for a comedy. Weird or unsettling if it's a thriller.

If you have a thriller with multiple characters, It'd rather it be something like: Butcher, Baker, Boogey Man, Thief. Because even though it doesn't really make sense, it's so interesting I'd want to see what the writer did. See what I mean?

And, if you can pull it off: titles that have more than one meaning or very compelling. You can take the first meaning of it at face value, then if there is a second meaning as well as you get into/finish the piece, and it's all the more deeper and more satisfying. It's not required, and certainly this isn't always possible, but it's very cool if you can manifest it.

Anyway, thought for the day, probably because I'm now forced to think about it.


Wednesday, August 10, 2005

Page Turner

How do you write a page turner? How do you make your work such that the reader is compelled to keep flipping, even if they promise themselves to read only ten pages, and you've still got them on page fifty and going strong?

The answer is unervingly simple.


Many writers, particularly beginners, don't embrace this dynamic.

Many beginners have also read too many books about writing, which talk about scenes having beginnings, middles and ends. So they write beginnings middle and ends to each scene.

Do you see a problem here? What happens at the end of something. Is there any tension left?

No. There is resolution.

So the trick is - a scene may end, but the tension does not.

Don't be afraid of a scene fragment. Don't be afraid to start in the middle of a scene and go to the end, or start at the beginning and just get to the middle and cut away. There are many ways to execute this idea. Now, don't be a bad writer and create stuff that doesn't make sense because it's incomplete - that's not what I'm saying.

But as I gave an example in our workshop: If you start a film with a car speeding along on the highway. Cut to the man driving. Cut to the woman in the passanger seat. Cut to her handcuffed wrist to the inside of the door. Cut to her waking up in bedfroom from this memory, sweating, disturbed, and then start a normal day.

And you've started your film. Wow, don't you want to know what the hell happened? You have also set the tone. This is a realistic drama, where the hero can be hurt, and possibly made quite dead.

That's tension. From this one partial scene, and it can be an underlying through-line that haunts the hero (but will unfold slowlys throughout the film) and will affect her present story (which unfolds throughout the film).

There are many ways to do it. Look to your work and find the conflict, make sure it's generated by a clash of your characters' needs. Don't resolve the tension, keep the energy up in your scenes, and even as they come to end by characters learning things about each other, or about the plot, keep the tension alive.

Monday, August 08, 2005


One of the most important aspects of the craft of screenwriting is establishing a clear and consistent tone throughout your story. Its more important than the jokes in a comedy, more important than the poetic lines in a tragedy. Because if your tone is inconsistent, you'll lose the hook that pulled the audience in, in the first place.

You'll be asked about it in you meetings on originals and re-writes, and if you blow it in your draft, you'll get notes on it when you hand in. You'll be asked for other movies like the one you're imagining, writing, finished, so that people can get an idea of what you're after.

So what is tone? The sound that the channels used to make when they signed off for the night? (Okay, that was a long time ago. Don't know what I mean? Really? Forget it.)

It is literally the emotional response that you generate from your narrative. And that response can run the spectrum from comic to dramatic.

What's the simple rule?

The comic hero is immortal. However bad it gets, we know he's never going to buy it, so we know we can laugh at his pain.

The dramatic hero is a poor stooge like the rest of us who bleeds, and will die, and holy gee, it could happen right in this scene!

Now you have to break it down a bit further.

What kind of comedy are you writing? Broad, slapstick, situational, absurdist, farce, dark, black comedy (and I don't mean a casting choice, but a black comedy has inappropriate emotional responses to real dramatic situations to get the laugh). You'd better make sure you know what you're doing and keep the rules the same throughout. And how about the drama? Realistic, hyper-real, stage-play, operatic, epic.

And it has to be consistent throughout the piece, or your audience will sense something wrong and will jump ship. They'll the feel the bubble that we call the suspension of disbelief, which is essentially a fancy way to say all that flickering light on that big screen up there which seems so REAL that you fall into it and forget yourself - unless that bubble has burst, and suddenly all those folks in those seats are thinking about the rules of the movie - what the hell are the rules? Why did he say that? Am I supposed to be worried or not? And you don't want your audience thinking that.

Example: You want to write an action movie, but you want the hero to be funny. The Bruce Willis model. Still works really well. But how funny? What's the tone? The tone is - as funny as your guy is, you'd better believe he might be killed in every scene, and that his emotional life is real and grounded in reality. That's a clear tone. And has to be the choice for this film to work. You can probably name 30 movies with this tone. But you know this world, it feels real.

Example: You want to write a comedy, but you want the hero to be such a complete idiot that no one in their right mind would let them into their life, let alone into a conversation. How does that make sense? What's the tone? You give your hero a great air of authority and self confidence that he's always right, and that he thinks everyone else is just a little off. And that's a very clear tone. Though I'm thinking of Dumb and Dumber, it works for the Panther films and probably another 30 comedies I can't think of this second. And you know this world too. It will seem real.

When Silence of the Lamb starts, you know on page two what the tone is. And you pretty much want to leave the theater and go find a safe place. Because the tone is very real, very realistic, the danger is very realistic, and in reality, people die. Your hero is entering the lion's den and she's fresh meat.

When A Girl Like Mary starts, you pretty much know on page two what the tone is, and you drop all notions of common sense and get ready to laugh your ass off. Who cares if it doesn't make realistic sense? Nothing does. The joke is, we enter the normal situations of boy loses girl, boy gets girl, but everything is going to be extreme and weird, and that's where the laughs are.

Know your tone. Make sure it maintains. Make sure it emmanates from your characters and your world. Be consistent. Establish it clearly in your mind as you create your piece, you will find it actually buoys you along and helps guide you as much as any character and any plot point.

Wednesday, August 03, 2005

All In The Family

People are social creatures. We crave community. From the busy social butterflies who need a PDA to keep their lists of 5000 close and personal friends organized, to the lonely hearts who bring in animals off the street, or just know the neighbors on their apartment floor, everyone creates community.

And so you must attend to this in creating any character in your stories.

Like a pebble thrown into a pond, and following the concentric rings out, you have to follow energy outwards from every character in your story. Everyone will have connections of some kind, a network, a web that character spins in which they live. It won't only help you refine your central character, but every other character as well.

This is the technique to keep your stories grounded and real.

There's nothing worse than reading a script about people, even if they're well drawn, who have no friends, or family - or if they do, act appropriately around them.

We all create family. We come from family and it's our nature to recreate it. Whether it's a literal "nucular" family as our President would say, or a group of young single guys in a strange city bonding together, or a group of soldiers bonding in Iraq, or a group of young women bonding at boarding school. It's all family.

So see where in the family your character falls, whether he's the hero, the friend, the obstacle or the opponent. Drama? Dysfunctional family. Comedy? REALLY dysfunctional family. And decide if your character has the energy of "the dad (stern or nurturing)" "the mom (strict or openhearted?)", "siblings" (A type first born? Fighting to be heard second born? etc. )

We all know family, what family has your character created?

Tuesday, August 02, 2005

Why Must There Be Suffering? It's Fun!

Why is there suffering in stories? Why is it essential to put your characters through the meat grinder? Because there is suffering in life, and all good stories distill the essence of real life in a concentrated time frame.

It's like Hitchcock's famous quote:"Movies are real life with the boring parts taken out."

Then it falls to us to answer the larger question, so that we can understand it's purpose in the first question of this post. Why is there suffering in life?

Because we come into this life as dense beings, aware mostly of ourselves and convinced that the world is centered around us. Loss, emotional pain, physical pain, threat of extinction, any suffering breaks us down, and makes us compassionate to the pain felt by others. It makes us realize there is more to life than our own wants and needs, it makes us reach outside of ourselves as the only way to survive, when all hope and physical abilitiy seems lost.

It's the old saying:"there are no athiests in a fox hole". Suffering makes you reach outside of yourself to the moment when you go "please God or whatever else is up there, please please help me." This call to something greater, this letting go, is the deepest transformation a person - and therefore - a character, can go through.

That is why your character has to suffer. It's the only thing that is going to break them down, shatter their patterns, crack their shell, bust up their narccistic nature and make them realize there is not only more to the world than what's under their own skin, but their potential is magnified when they call on something higher to be more than they currently are, to be all that they can be - and finally discover their fullest potential.

There are mary variations of the higher call. It can be falling in love, dying for love, surrendering to God - possibly in a death state - and coming back with higher powers (Star Wars and the Matrix touch on this), or just literally "breaking" and coming back from having one's character broken a better stronger person (Paul Newman in Hud). That, of course, is the definition of "Shaman" not only a person who is a medium between the visible world and the invisible world, but literally a "shattered man".

You must be broken down, shattered, and suffer, to expand, to grow, to transform, and become a new complete and fully realized "you".

This would be considered a "birth and death" cycle in spiritual terms, and in one life there can be many such cycles. For best storytelling, often the chracter refuses to embrace hardship and suffering as tools for change and growth. They rail against it, fight it, resist it at all costs. Then, appropriately smashed and flattened at the end of the second act, they must rise again like the phoenix, and realize only now that their whole way of looking at life was limited, wrong, near sighted. Now with expanded understanding and a new and fuller depth of spirit, they bring a fantastic new authority and power to their finale.

Fortunately for the rest of us, we don't have to do that, if we choose not to. We can embrace hardship as the teacher it is and grow faster than our characters might.