You set. I’ll spike.
The phrase Do no harm does not pertain to story. Drama has harm and even that is subjective. I remember a corporation that was acquiring other companies. One corporate manager told me that she and the CFO had devised a technique to sandbag the other merging company’s CFO in the merger meetings. “You set. I’ll spike.”
Here’s how it goes. In the meeting, the corporate manager questions an action of the merging company’s CFO. Then the corporate CFO chimes in and pins the poor guy. The result is that the other executives think that an agreement of wrongdoing is taking shape and they better get with the program to side against the offending person—the poor bloke being pinned.
Were you engaged as a reader? Boy, I was too when I heard that. You gotta confront that stuff as a writer and in life. The motivations. The fear. The twitches of others in the room.
The thing is that a story has its beats where ultimately a final battle and realization/crisis and sacrifice occur. Maybe these two executives are the bad guys. Who knows. But somewhere in that story, someone’s going to crack.
In real life, that stuff happens too. A wise man once said that you can cause anything you want if you’re willing to take responsibility for the effects. (paraphrase) So easy to cast aside another who’s bearing a burden, eh? Walk away. “They’ll get over it. It’s only one time.” What if everyone in that guy’s life did it to him once? Sometimes a person just can’t recover. As writers, we’ll drag you through the torment and mud of those effects…if we can confront them. That’s why you love us.
Note that in these days where more and more people are going haywire, they may just need one more kind word, one more decent act to recover a sense of belonging in this world we call home. What’s real life? It’s the life you create. You be the judge.