Jon Michael Galindo

~ writing, programming, art ~

<< Previous next >>
3 September 2015

Storylines: Rescue

When I described the deliverer storyline, I intentionally neglected its natural counterpart. I did so because “rescue” is not a sub-plot of the deliverer’s story, but a storyline in itself. Moreover, because its impact depends on the believability of its protagonist’s rescue experience, it presents far more of a challenge than did deliverer.

Here, the protagonist is virtually a villain. Their eventual rescue bears many of the traits of redemption’s storyline. This person has fallen to darkness through desperation, betrayal, and distress, although they will often find themselves too weak to accomplish anything truly villainous. I certainly do not mean to describe here stories of damsels in distress: Those are not, for the most part, rescues in this sense at all. True rescue requires a rescue of the heart, not merely the body.

I try to refrain from little-known examples, but this storyline is positively rare considering the prevalence of its counterpart. Dreamworks Animation released a film in 2010 called “Megamind”, featuring a comic-book-style villain rescued in part by his nemesis, but primarily by a reporter. This story was not particularly moving; it erred on the comedic side. Nevertheless, it represented an honest attempt at a rescue storyline. If you have read Lewis’ “The Lion, The Witch, and the Wardrobe”, Edmund’s story represents a rescue, modelled, of course, after the Jesus’ rescue of the Christian soul. Despite the difficulty in crafting this story, other examples exist. “The Bronze Bow” by Elizabeth Speare comes to mind. If it can be mastered, it appeals enormously to every heart.

I felt the need to emphasize that rescue is not a sub-plot of the deliverer’s story precisely because the two are inextricably intertwined. Every rescue depends on a deliverer to do the rescuing. However, from this vantage point, the deliverer may flit in and out of the pages, often untouchable, often reassuring, and almost invariably the subject of the protagonist’s betrayal at some crucial moment.

The crux of this story lies primarily in the author’s capacity to inspire in the reader those same feelings of abandonment, isolation, fear, and weakness which the protagonist experiences. However, the challenge does not end there. The deliverer or delivering agent must represent to the reader a genuine, astonishing hope, too good to be true without losing its realism: a supremely difficult balance to achieve. Then, at last, the protagonist’s rebirth into safety, trust, and virtue must be equally believable and relatable. It must resonate with the reader’s humanity: compassion finally unfettered, forgiveness embraced.

Have you been rescued at some point in your life? Do you know what it means to learn to trust again? That experience forms the heart and soul of rescue’s universality. Perhaps because so many authors find themselves still in need of rescue, this storyline presents such a gargantuan challenge. Nevertheless, those authors who can write the truth because they have lived it need not fear for their story’s universality. The transformation embodied in this protagonist’s storyline not only finds unspoken echoes in every heart, it inspires every reader, both rescued and yet awaiting a deliverer, to hope.

© Jon Michael Galindo 2015