Robert McKee, author of Story and film guru, recommends in his seminars that writers ask ourselves this question: How can the worst thing that can happen to our characters also be the best thing that can happen to them?
Frodo gets the Ring of Power, is chased by orcs and the Nazgûl, almost dies on Mount Doom, but he saves the world.
Rust in True Detective has to quit his job, gets seduced by his partner’s wife, then beat up by his partner, then is suspected to be the mass murderer he’s chasing, and is almost killed by said mass murderer, but in his near-death coma, he discovers the love of his dead child. (OK, so that’s dark.)
Fox Mulder loses his sister, thinks she’s been abducted by aliens, is labeled crazy, but gains the best partner in the world, Scully, and they fall in love.
Does this hold true for life? Is the worst thing that happens the thing that teaches us the most?
How many times have you heard people say they’re grateful for cancer because it taught them how to live again? There’s a man in Denver who advocated for clemency for the murderer of his son. He says he’s learned the value of life by wanting the death penalty for years for this man, but then confronting the murderer and then finding compassion.
Does this idea hold true in your own writing? Or does this belong on some horror or therapy blog?