Monday, January 4, 2010

A Million Miles in a Thousand Years - a book review

Don Miller's latest book, A Million Miles in a Thousand Years, is one of those rare works where, chapter after chapter, the story just gets better. His subtitle, What I Learned While Editing My Life, is a good description of the framework of the book once the reader begins to understand what he means by that.  This book is actually born out of his experience of collaborating with two experienced screenwriters in writing the screenplay to one of Miller's earlier works, Blue Like Jazz.  In doing so, he learned that his story would not simply translate on the big screen in a way that would hold a viewers interest but would require editing to accomplish that.  In making those editorial adjustments to create a good story, he learns some things about his own life and the elements required to make our own real lives a good story.
 He helps us understand
  • the need for the central character to want something, 
  • the importance of that character to have to overcome something to get what he wants, and
  • the necessity of a climatic scene and inciting incident for the character to actually get what he wants.

All of these are interesting if you plan to write a book or screenplay but what do they mean to you and me?  For me, the real value in the book was that I was inspired to use it to frame-up my own life story, to ensure that all the necessary elements are in place so that the life that I live is a good story, too.   As always, Miller weaves interesting and meaningful stories into his work in a way that inspires and challenges us.  It's a good read and useful tool in living your own good story.

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