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Identity to Essence

by Darcy Crowder


This past weekend I pulled out my DVD for a refresher on Michael Hauge’s Story Mastery/6 Stage Story Structure lectures.


I’ve had the good fortune of sitting in on several of Mr. Hauge’s workshops at various conferences, most recently Georgia Romance Writer’s Moonlight & Magnolias Conference a couple of years ago.  A wonderful experience, by the way, if you’re a writer or want to be, and are looking for an affordable, modest-sized event to aid your career.


That particular year proved to be a high point for me because one of our special guest speakers was Michael Hauge, a story and script consultant, author and lecturer who works with novelists and screenwriters on perfecting their craft.  A definite favorite of mine.  His workshop lasted one entire day and for a lucky few of us, several hours into the next day.  In my book, anything by Michael Hauge or Donald Maass is not to be missed!


One of the highlights of his lecture was the concept of a hero moving from his identity to his essence.  In other words, (wildly paraphrasing here) moving past the persona or identity he projects to the world and coming to live fully as the person he is inside, having moved past whatever fears or needs that are keeping him from maximizing his potential, pursuing those dreams and highest goals.  In two words – Character Arc.


For me, this is the fun part, what really drives my desire to write – the inner journey.


My family has been going through some growing pains the last year or two; a wedding, a funeral, college, new start up business, new love.  The usual life stuff.  Which lead to a conversation involving the motherly advice of making sure that you take the time to begin the journey to discovering who you are by asking yourself some hard questions.  What do you want out of life?  What do you have to offer?  Where do you see yourself in 5 years? 10?  What makes you happy?  If you could do anything, BE anything, what would it be?  How would the people in your life remember you?


Tough questions to be sure.  Especially for young adults.  As writers we ask our characters these questions so we can better understand them, get their story across in the most empathetic way.  So we can bring them through that arc to a happier place.


I’ve been asking myself some of these questions.  Obviously our answers would be very reflective of our ages and life experiences.  But I think it’s important to push the pause button every once in a while and do the hard work.  Ask the hard questions.  Are we caught in a cycle of just getting through the day, living in our identity?  Or are we pursuing our dreams, expecting more of ourselves, striving to live in our essence?


What about you?  Are you living in your identity or your essence?  What do you want to change?

Laura Drake - February 26, 2013 - 8:00 am

Great post, Darcy! I’m almost down to the essence — it’s taken me decades of hard work, but I’m now reaping the rewards. Life is sweet.

Now, to work on that last question – how people who will remember me…need to work on that.

Ane Mulligan - February 26, 2013 - 9:36 am

That’s a terrific explanation of the character arc, and so much deeper that you usually see. It’s one I can grab hold of and remember. Thank you, Darcy!! :)

Darcy - February 26, 2013 - 2:41 pm

We are works in progress, aren’t we? You’re a powerhouse, Laura! You deserve the rewards. :)

Darcy - February 26, 2013 - 2:44 pm

Thanks, Ane! If you’ve never looked into Michael Hauge’s work, you should visit his website (linked above). My daughter uses his 6 Stage Story Structure for all her novels. I use a mix of his process and what I learned from a workshop called Discovering Story Magic by Robin Perrini and Laura Drake. I highly recommend both resources!

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