Tuesday, October 7, 2008

Escape these 5 Toxic Plot Lines

Some say there are only eight different basic plot lines in all the stories ever told. Others say there are 16, or a few more. The best known is probably the boy meets girl, boy loses girl, boy wins girl. In Latin American soap operas, a popular plot goes like this: country bumpkin moves to big city to work as a maid, and achieves "success" by marrying Mr. Big. Of course in those stories, these cleaning ladies always look like Brooke Shields, and somehow wear high heels with their uniforms to mop floors.

The story of your own life no doubt includes overcoming obstacles to achieve worthy goals. It may also include some wild adventures, perilous travel, and unexpected encounters.

What follows, however, is a list of plot lines to avoid in your own life stories:

- The protagonist never quite achieves the mission because somewhere close to the finish line he shoots himself in the foot. Rather than learning from this experience, he repeats it.

- The protagonist lives to please others, and somehow never really pleases anyone, and continually plays supporting roles in other people's plots.

- The protagonist, always working for the sake of the mission, loses his health and his family to benefit the sponsoring organization.

- The protagonist, having learned that others always let you down, shuns help from friends, in stubborn determination to do everything by herself. She prefers the life of isolation, rather than risk another disappointment.

- The protagonist is always in control of the situation, but isn't much fun to be around, ever. Takes himself far too seriously.

Now all of us may fall into one of these toxic plot lines on occasion, but don't make one of these the story of your life.