Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

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2 September 2015

Storylines: Deliverer

A well-crafted “Deliverer” storyline will offer far less of a challenge to any writer than would beauty or mystery, perhaps due to its prevalence in the popular sphere. Picture a protagonist who must protect someone. Through determination and perseverance, this protagonist gains the power to vanquish a seemingly invincible foe. The protagonist will sacrifice a great deal, and, more impressively, will often pass through resurrection.

Examples of this storyline have never been in short supply. The Matrix comes to mind. To protect the resistance and to free humanity, Neo leaves ordinary life behind, becoming the most powerful entity in the Matrix. He sacrifices the comforting illusion of the 20th century for the harsh reality of the post-apocalyptic resistance; and, he dies, only to be inexplicably resurrected for humanity’s sake. Virtually every superhero story employs the deliverer storyline to some extent, including Superman, Batman, Spiderman, Ironman, and a plethora beyond them. It features heavily in Japanese culture, including Hayao Miyazaki’s “Spirited Away”, in which a young girl must save her parents.

The theme of sacrifice is universal, but resurrection less so. It occurs in at least two popular, Japanese stories: “Bleach”, and “Dragon Ball”. Tolkien created a resurrected deliverer in Gandalf, and Lewis, depicting Jesus, resurrected Aslan as Narnia’s deliverer. Lucas resurrected Obi-Wan Kenobi to guide Luke. However, Chihiro (“Spirited Away”) certainly never died, nor, to my knowledge, have Batman, Spiderman, or Ironman. (Their authors have deceived readers with apparent death, but this differs significantly from resurrection). Superman, of course, takes death and resurrection in stride repeatedly.

This storyline captures a gamut of emotions. It captures the vicarious triumph and nobility of the emergent heroes, as well as the courage and strength their victories impart. It has, perhaps, been overdone. Nevertheless when handled well, like all universal storylines, it will never lose its impact.

Although infinite permutations exist, the very best tend to deal with the deliverer’s rejection by the person in need of deliverance, both before and after the deliverance act. Also, to write this story well the protagonist must be relatable: must be very human in their struggle.

Overly powerful characters shine the brightest when written well, but many authors struggle to relate to someone who can fly, destroy cities, or turn back time. In that case, you might simply tone down their capacities. However, if you will delve deeper into the experience of this storyline, you will find that the greatest heroes struggle despite nearly infinite power and nearly flawless character. The golden heart of this story beats in overcoming rejection, not in overcoming giant monsters or pride. Bear that in mind, and you may yet breathe fresh life into this universally recognized storyline.

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015