Tuesday, November 25, 2014

Lucky or Not?


I think that most stories worth telling are in fact stories about unlucky people. Of course, in the end everything might turn out just fine, with a happy ending, but the beginning has to be bad, hasn’t it?

Think about it.

A girl has loving parents who protect her and who care for her. She grows up surrounded by her loving family, goes to school, always has good friends, gets a great job, meets the right guy, and they live happily ever after. Lucky girl. End of story.

Very nice. Now, how about this?

A girl has loving parents but her mother dies and, unfortunately, her father marries a woman with two daughters of her own and then he has to go on a long trip, leaving the girl alone with the very mean stepmother and stepsisters. You know the rest of the story…

Some guy goes on a balloon ride, has a great time watching the landscape from the sky, then lands back nicely and is ready to show to his friends all the pictures he’s taken.

Another guy goes on a balloon ride but the ropes break and he’s up in the air on his own and before he knows it he’s blown away. After days of being a toy to the winds, he lands in an unknown land, full of wonder and dangers…

Maybe something like this…



An illustration by Edouard Riou for Jules Verne’s “Five Weeks in a Balloon”, 1863


When I was reading Larry Niven’s “Ringworld” – have you read it? – I was very intrigued by the concept of “the luck of Teela Brown.” Teela Brown was a young woman, with very “lucky” ancestors, six generations of winners of the Earth’s Birthright Lottery. She was recruited by Nessus, the Puppeteer, for a voyage to the Ringworld, in the hope that her luck will rub off the entire expedition bringing it success. I can only wonder, though, if her “luck” didn’t really end right there…




I’m thinking that even the meaning of “luck” could be interpreted in different ways. Is one lucky to live a sheltered, dull, “normal” life, or is one lucky to live an “interesting” life albeit with some serious heartache in it? I assume the answer depends on which side of the “fence” you consider yourself to be when you’re giving it. Of course, there’s always the combination of dull and unlucky…

Care to share your thoughts?



Happy Thanksgiving to all my American friends!

7 comments:

Brian Miller said...

ha. i think our perception of lucky may vary person to person...we dont always get to see the challenges that even the most lucky tend to face...its been forever since i read ringworld...i think we like stories that we can relate to...and oft we can not relate to someone that gets everything they dream of...

Bernard Lee DeLeo said...

If the characters are strong enough, the plot can be wound around them, especially if there is humor. That balloon ride was a good one though. I remember the books and movies based on Mr. Verne's classics when I was a kid. Disney did a great job with his stories.

Charles Gramlich said...

I've always tended to think of myself as lucky with the big things and unlucky with the little ones. You are right, stories often start with bad luck, or maybe with what feels like good luck but turns out to be bad. Like winning a lottery.

SzélsőFa said...

It has been said many times before that it is conflict (the emerge/process/solution/outcome of conflict), and not the state of being content and happy that attracts us, humans.

And yes, sometimes luck, being lucky is relative.

A Cuban In London said...

Happy Thanksgiving to you, too! I loved your post. They say that here are seven types of narrative to make up a story, whether it is for a play or a novel. Your post proves it. I loved the way you presented both sides of the same story with a twist in the second.

Greetings from London.

TALON said...

That's certainly an intriguing concept...and luck...I always figure if one person is lucky, the law of averages said, someone else is suffering horrible luck. :)

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