The Old Man and the Sea

What’s all the fuss about this little tale of on old Cuban fisherman on the hunt for a huge marlin in the blue seas of the Gulf Stream, and his fight against the sharks that try to steal his spoils of war on the way back home? I needed to find out.

In his deceptively simple writing, Ernest Hemingway expresses all his concepts about life, old age, the meaning of victory, friendship, cooperation and masculinity in the fewer than 130 pages of this unforgettable story.

It’s a book with layers of meanings, and the right one for you will emerge and resonate deeply and fast – depending on your age and the point of life you’re at.

The Old Man and the Sea. Illustration by C.F. Tunnicliffe and Raymond Shepard.

The Old Man and the Sea. Illustration by C.F. Tunnicliffe and Raymond Shepard.


The powerful narrative of Hemingway will make you put yourself in this old man’ shoes (or lack thereof). You will feel the fishing line cutting through your hands and your back while you try to keep the marlin hooked, as the huge fish swims forward fighting for freedom, pulling your skiff along for endless hours out to the deep sea. The old man’s thoughts will be your thoughts – although I suspect his love for baseball will surely be replaced by your passion for soccer if you don’t live in the USA; his endurance and respect for life will sink profoundly into your heart. His recurring dreams of lions walking on a distant African beach will duplicate all your yearning for naturalness, beauty, purity and strength.

The Old Man and the Sea made me realize three great movies I’ve watched recently have strong references to it, without my noticing them at the time: Life of Pi, Captain Phillips and All is Lost, the latter featuring Robert Redford from the height of the dignity of his 77 years of age. The same themes of endurance, self-reliance and the power of dreaming reverberate through all of them, resolved in different and exciting original artistic forms. And, of course, they all go back to Melville’s Moby Dick.

I don’t expect anything else from a work of art: give me something beautiful and simple – throw some ocean into it, if possible – test my hero to the limits of his physical and mental strength, put me in his head as he struggles, and the artist will have managed to take me to places I have never been before, and, as a consequence, made my life richer and a lot more meaningful.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon: a must-read novel

I’m planning to eat a moqueca today, a typical Brazilian dish consisting of salt water fish stew in coconut milk, onions, garlic, tomatoes, coriander and dendê oil from Bahia. This will be my way of celebrating having finished the delicious novel Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon by Brazilian writer Jorge Amado.

Despite the fact that our literature is not very well known outside the borders of Brazil, chances are the reader will have heard of Amado and his homeland, Bahia. He is one of our most popular writers of the XX century, and his books have been translated into more than 40 languages throughout the world.

Many of his works have been turned into famous Brazilian soap operas, miniseries and movies, but, of course, the experience of watching Amado either on the big or small screen does not compare to the much deeper pleasure of embarking on the deliciously funny, poetic and encompassing canvas of his writing.

Sônia Braga, as Gabriela

Sônia Braga, as Gabriela

Jorge Amado treats the reader with a wealth of unforgettable characters from the lowest to the highest echelons of the provincial cities of the northeast of Brazil, who intermingle in a network of politics, friendships, romance and violence.

Gabriela, the novel, is a dream of humor, poetry and cultural information. As a Brazilian, it felt great to be transported to the Ilhéus (a town on the coast of Bahia) of the first decades of last century, when the booming of the cacao exportation was making changes in the town and its customs at a pace never seen before. Progress was threatening the lifestyle and status quo of the families of the first farmers who got hold of huge expanses of land by force, with the help of their armed jagunços, never hesitating to use violence and murder in constant ambushes against their opponents. But now times were changing, with the arrival of technology and progressist businessmen, who came to those backward towns attracted  by the riches generated by the cacao.

Jorge Amado delivers his prose in a light, funny and detached tone, packed with irony, yet showing great warmth and understanding towards his characters. He depicts prostitutes, rich farmers (the so-called “colonels”), their minions (“jagunços”), churchgoing  and gossipy splinters, lonely concubines, small time businessmen and pathetic pseudo-intellectuals, against the backdrop of the geography and culture of the small provincial cities of the early decades of the 20th century. His prose will stay with you for a long time after you close the book (or switch off your Kindle), such is its power and universality.

Moreover, “Gabriela” is a very sensual text, filled with the colors, smells and tastes of Bahia. It’s a book that celebrates life and the liberation of minds, especially women’s, from the colonial chains and obsolete traditions of a male-dominated society. It’s a radical hymn against machismo, opening up doors to the possibility of freedom.

Gabriela, the protagonist, represents the essence of Brazilianness, in her beauty, simplicity, lightheartedness and pleasure for life. Of course, both the main characters of “Gabriela, Clove and Cinnamon” and “Dona Flor and Her Two Husbands”, another famous Amado novel, are deeply associated in our minds with the image of Brazilian actress Sônia Braga, who portrayed them both in famous movies and soap operas during the seventies. Of course, I was too young at the time to fully enjoy them – this, however, does not stop me from putting the face of Ms Braga to the wild Gabriela of the pages of the novel. After all, Sônia Braga was an icon of Brazilian sexuality and beauty in her day.

Jorge Amado is a pleasure to read. His stories will certainly make a profound mark in your life and deepen the awareness you may have of Brazilian culture. I strongly recommend you have a go at it.

Au revoir,

Jorge Sette.

BuzzFeed Quizzes are driving me crazy

I’m getting awfully confused with all these BuzzFeed quizzes I’ve been taking: it looks like I’m an Audrey Hepburn version of a unicorn, living in New York, commuting everyday (or should I say galloping) to Barcelona, while honing my Shakesperean skills as a writer to be read as a self-published $ 0.99 e-book on Amazon. I need more from life.

BuzzFeed quizzes

Au revoir

Jorge Sette


Why We Love Gabo (Gabriel García Márquez) and You Should too

Of course the first thing I did after “hearing” about the death of Gabriel García Márquez on Facebook (where else?) was to access my Kindle app and download a full collection of his short stories and his biography (Vivir para Contarla). I have the print version of the biography at home, but, as I was away, I felt the need to reread parts of it immediately. The prices were astoundingly low on, and I figured they may not remain so for very long, as the hype brought about by the death of any celebrity is bound to push up prices of anything related to them.

It was very comforting going to bed that night with those two books safely stored on my iPad. It felt like I had somehow beaten and transcended death. I could keep Gabo with me for as long as I wished. And this is something I needed to do.

Gabriel García Márquez

Gabriel García Márquez

When I first read ONE HUNDRED YEARS OF SOLITUDE, I was in college. I had a close group of friends, all taking different majors, who spent most of the free time together. Beaches, bars, weekend trips. At some point, some of us decided to read that book and we all agreed to read it at the same time. We became a kind of informal reading club, without a facilitator or much structure to it. However, it was a lot of fun discussing the most improbable passages, sitting for hours on the beach in Boa Viagem, unafraid of death by shark in those young times.

In those days, we were more interested in how funny and unfamiliar some of the magic realism sounded to us, without really devoting much time to interpreting metaphors or sensing how painfully poetic the whole thing was. Macondo, the imaginary  Caribbean town featured in the the book, with its heat and rain, its underdevelopment and desolation, its ghosts and backwardness was not very different from what we experienced in Recife in the mid-1980s. It was not as if we were trying to figure out Márquez from the coldness of a damp London night, reading by the fireplace, with a cup of tea. We might as well be characters in Gabo’s books, so close our realities were. Nobody would look very surprised if we all started to ascend into the sky like Remedios, the beauty, one of the strangest characters in the book.

Macondo is Latin America, and it’s Recife, Brazil,  more than anywhere else.

Only years later, though, did I come across my favorite Márquez: LOVE IN THE TIME OF CHOLERA. I liked it even more than “One Hundred Years…”  Less magical realism and more poetry. The story of the determination of a man who waits for a woman for 50 years before finally having her deeply resonated with me. It was a metaphor standing for everything I valued as ideals in life: crystal clear objectives, passion, a steely tenacity, patience and the understanding that the journey  and its pleasures should be as important as the goal: after all, Firmino Ariza, the main character, had led a fully satisfactory life while patiently waiting for the love of his life to become a widow, before finally resuming and strenghtening their relationship during a beautiful boat trip down an infinite river. Meanwhile, the journey, the life of Ariza, is packed with funny and interesting anecdotes, lived to the full, which makes the book a rare delight and a great lesson.

In between these two masterpieces, I read most of the other stories, and remember being deeply impressed by the strange tale of the unfortunate life of Eréndira, who had to work as a prostitute to pay for an unextinguishable debt towards her wicked “abuela” (grandmother). Because of the movie based on the story that came out at the time, I can only picture Eréndira as the dark wild beauty Claudia Ohana, the Brazilian actress who played the leading role. Irena Pappas played the crazy grandma in an unforgettable performance.

Not long ago I read another amazing and disturbing Márquez’s story. It told of a boy who liked to spend the nights on the beach staring at the sea. One night he begins to see a huge ghostly transatlantic ship passing by, which, with all its lights off,  silently crashes against the reefs near the entrance to the harbor. Despite the fact that, from then on  the vision happened once every March, year after year, his mother never believed him, as no traces of the shipwreck could ever be found in the daylight. Until one day when, already as an adult, with a little torch, her son manages to lead the ship past the rocks into the canal towards the beach, only to have it crash magnifically right in front of the local church. They all believed him then.

This is what makes us love Gabo: his Spanish fills the world with a unique combination of magic, colors, rhythms and smells (in one of his stories, for example, a strange smell of roses takes over a little village by the sea, heralding great changes to come), which makes us see reality in a totally new light. And finally get it.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.





Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

Storytelling with Norman Rockwell

Click on the picture to access the SlideShare presentation.

Note: you might want to check out our new book TEACHING ENGLISH WITH ART: MATISSE   available  from AMAZON.COM as an ebook.  Click here for more info:

4 Elements to Consider to Strengthen your Brand

In a scene of MAD MEN (6th season), Don Draper (the protagonist) and his business partners are sitting around a dinner table socializing with clients from General Motors. Libations and jokes are going around, drunken laughter and merry faces are all we see. Then, Don, unexpectedly, brings up the story of the son of one of his friends (whose wife he has been sleeping with, in typical Draper fashion) who has been drafted to Vietnam. Don is hoping GM will volunteer to help get the boy off the hook, through one of the many contacts the huge corporation must have in Washington. The mood at the table changes immediately to gloom and doom. Don’s partners look at him in disbelief: how dare he introduce a note of sadness and discomfort, when the only goal of this meeting is to entertain the clients and keep them happy? Is he trying to jeopardize the future of the account?


Don Draper, Mad Men

This is how business was done in the late 1960s. And today.  In a previous post, I mentioned that the campaigns conducted by Madison Avenue marketers as shown in this brilliant TV series would not have much change of succeeding in today’s digital environment. However, one thing remains the same and is not likely to change any time soon: clients are emotional beings and their choices rely much more on feeling and intuition than on reason. Of course, after the choice is made, they will work hard to rationalize it and will possibly come up with a lot of “objective” reasons to justify their decisions. So, the lesson is let’s keep the customer happy.

With this in mind, clever marketers will never stray away from the emotional channel to reach and start a conversation with their prospects, or keep a solid relationship with their loyal base going smoothly. And what are the main tools available to aid marketers reach clients on an emotional level?

1. Storytelling: this is the biggest umbrella word that encompasses the whole tool kit to engage the client, as it resonates strongly with humans on different emotional levels. Your brand needs to describe itself to the customer in a very simple and yet effective way. By using the typical elements of storytelling (which we have discussed in previous posts:, and, make sure it’s easy for the customers to understand where you are coming from, your journey and quest. If they eventually become advocates of your brand (which is ultimately every marketer’s dream) make it easy for them be able to share your story with everyone in their network.

2. Coherence: this is fundamental to the success of your marketing strategy. The story needs to be coherent in every touch-point with the client. Every contact of the client with your brand should add or reinforce a piece to the bigger picture. Your story should make a solid promise, set up a strong positioning and create a relatable personality that needs to permeate all your communication with customers. This story is supposed to make the customers associate your brand with positive feelings and traits: family values (Disney), coolness (Apple), sophistication (Tiffany), efficiency and innovation (Amazon), usefulness and reliability (Google), high self-esteem and style (Rolex), vigor and energy (Nike), etc. Pick the emotion you want to emphasize through the use of your product/service and stick with it.

3. Colors: these are very important in communicating and generating the right emotion. There are many articles on the Internet that make suggestions and describe how different colors create and stress different moods. Based on the kind of story you choose to tell your customers, be careful matching the colors of your logo, for example, to the positive emotion you are willing to generate. Blue, for example, stands for depth and stability; red for excitement and passion; yellow for happiness and warmth; green for environment-friendly brands, peacefulness and health; black communicates tradition and sophistication.

4. Design: most products are becoming commodities in terms of their functionality and performance. Today it does not really matter, for example, what kind of TV set you buy, they are basically all the same, and equally reliable. That’s where look and feel play an essential part. Your brand needs to integrate the design that fitfully tells your story. This involves your logo, the format of your communication, the choice of your business card and the product itself. Of course, Apple is everyone’s benchmark in this department.  Also, keep consistency throughout your collateral, display banners, the layout of your office, your blog and website appearance.

I hope the reader understands that we are not endorsing ways of cheaply manipulating the customers by pressing their buttons. As long as your brand delivers on the promise made, marketers don’t need to feel guilty about trying to entice the client. That’s obviously their job. Besides, just like in a good movie or book – and in storytelling in general – the more subtly emotions are played out, the more effective they are in satisfying today’s increasingly sophisticated audience. Tell a powerful and genuine story, and deliver on your contract: that’s all.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.


More storytelling tips for marketers

You may already know that the new buzz word in marketing is storytelling. You may also wonder why it took the marketing gurus so long to realize that stories resonate strongly with humans beings, and therefore, with clients. Brands must tell a story to the customers, and good marketers should, therefore, learn as much as possible about the craft of storytelling to be able to create and project a more impactful and relevant positioning in the minds of their audience.

We already started discussing the mythological structure of storytelling in a previous post (please refer to “The Power of Storytelling, the Mythological Structure”-  – you may want to read it before you continue). Now we pick up where we left off, and begin to cover the kinds of characters we come across in muscular and enduring stories.

The renowned psychoanalyst Carl Jung put forward the theory that the elements (themes, topics, characters, plot) commonly found in dreams are the same ones present in the mythologies of all peoples at different times. He called them archetypes.

Joseph Campbell, the famous American mythologist, went further to propose that all stories have basically the same structure. In his seminal book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, he identifies and explains the phases that a typical hero or protagonist goes through.

Hollywood was quick to capitalize on Campbell’s powerful ideas and created a simplified memo for scriptwriters spelling out the stages of the hero’s journey and the typical characters found in mythological stories. When used with creativity and originality, these phases are hardly noticeable on the surface of a good movie, and the characters may take on many different forms, but the closer the deep structure of the plot remains to its mythological backbone the stronger it will resonate with the viewers.


Antonio Canova’s Theseus and the Centaur

We covered the stages of the story in a previous post. Now, who are the usual characters in powerful stories? Here’s the list, and its implications for marketing:

The hero: this is the protagonist or the representation of  your customer. He will have to overcome problems and bypass obstacles to get to his goal. He has a strong need that must be met – by your solution or product.

The shadow: this usually represents the hero’s opponent or dark side. In marketing, we may think of it as our competition, or any flaws our products may have that must be corrected or features that need to be enhanced.

The mentor: in stories, they appear as older and wiser men or women, whose job is to guide and aid the hero along the path to accomplishing his goal. Marketers may use this concept in their messages and positioning. Think of the communications with your customers as ways of mentoring them.

The herald: this is the character that announces to the hero that he will need to act upon his needs and desires to have them sorted out. He pushed the hero forward. What better metaphor for a CALL TO ACTION? Your “call to action” needs to be included in all the communications with the client, your hero. It’s your job to tell them what to do next. Clarify the path.

The threshold guardians: these are people who hinder the hero’s progress at different plot points. They are not necessarily evil, but they will be obstacles to overcome. Think of them metaphorically as any obstruction on the client’s path to the micro or macro conversions you set up: faulty or unhelpful landing pages, redirect errors, unclear info about the product, interruptions or problems on the shopping cart path, etc. Be an ally to the hero and help him overcome these difficulties.

The trickster: that is a character that provides comic relief in stories. Also, these pranksters may provide useful information through their jokes. As a marketer, keep in mind that what people need, through your messages (you blog posts, for example), is to have info, develop their knowledge or to have fun. Don’t underestimate the power of comedy. This is a powerful way to win the customers’ hearts and minds.

The shapeshifter: usually someone who keeps changing their form or intentions. We never know if he’s an ally or an enemy. Or he may start off as an enemy and become an ally eventually. As a marketer, I think it’s very useful to see testimonials and comments on social media sites as typical shapeshifters.  They will sometimes align with your intentions in helping the hero get to his (and your) goal, but they can also badmouth you to the point of putting the whole journey in jeopardy. Shapeshifters need to me monitored closely on the Internet and responded to immediately. This is a huge part of your job as a marketer.

We hope this analysis of the main archetypes will help you structure the story of your brand more effectively. In future posts, we will carry on imparting more tips to help you hone your skills as a storyteller and marketer.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.





My worst flying experience

With the sad news of the doomed fate of flight MH370, I could not help but remember one of the most frightening experiences I’ve ever had flying.

I had spent 15 days vacationing in London in the interval between the Olympic and Paralympic Games of 2012. Everything went well, London had been sunny and warm for the most part of my stay. I had spent a lot of time sitting in green parks, visiting galleries and museums,  and walking up and down along the Thames riverside from Tate Modern to the Tower Bridge.  I had had such a great time that was even considering going back the following year.

But now I was ready to come home. It was a Friday evening and I was feeling relaxed and with my energies fully restored to resume work on Monday. My flight to São Paulo, Brazil, would leave from Paris. As you probably know, when you try to redeem the miles accumulated over months or even years of paid flights, when time has finally come for you to claim your reward, the airlines will give you the worst choices of flight plans they can possibly put together, short of making you take a route around the world to be able to get to the point on Earth you are aiming for.

So I needed to get to Paris first – a 90 min flight – before facing the uncomfortable and long journey back home in coach: although I fly all the time for work, the experience is far from enjoyable for me.


Horrible flight

Armed with a bunch of newly-bought crossword puzzles, I took my preferred seat on the isle, next to a  good-looking young couple, who seemed to be still in love with each other. “They can’t have been together for long”, I thought, by the way they looked lovingly into each other’s eyes with a silly grin on their faces. They were both dressed like business people and I wondered about their luck being able to travel together for work. Or they might have just met on the plane and fallen in love. I know this can happen. Good for them. I was distracted by these fantasies as the plane took off.

As soon as the plane reached the right altitude, taking a horizontal position, I proceeded to take out my puzzles, pulled down the food tray in front of me, and started working furiously on solving the crossword problems. After a couple of minutes, I came across a tough one: 10 letters: synonym for commotion; unruliness; insubordination; rioting… I bit my pen in deep thought.

Then it started.

It was first felt as a sudden plunge into the void, which made some of the passengers cry out in fright. I was one of them. Then the plane stabilized for a moment, a couple of seconds maybe, and then a full-fledged turbulence broke out. The vessel shook like we were a cocktail being made by one of the cool bartenders in the Soho pub I had been to the night before. I was in terror. Stealing a glance at the couple sitting next to me, I noticed they were tense but totally silent. The smiles had been wiped off their faces but their hands remained held tight. I wondered if they would mind if I intermingled my cold and trembling fingers with theirs. With much effort, I refrained from trying this approach.

The plane seemed to steady and flew smoothly for a couple of minutes. I sighed. Peace did not last long, though. Soon the shaking and bouncing started again. Some middle-aged Spanish-speaking ladies, probably members of some tourist package holiday group, had seats a couple of rows ahead of me, to the right, and I could jealously see them laughing and screaming at the same time, while holding each others hands in support. Meanwhile, I was on my own, firmly gripping both arms of my seat and murmuring repeatedly DEAR GOD, DEAR GOD, DEAR GOD. I only noticed I was voicing these words out loud when I took another look at the couple – maybe to see if any of them would offer to hug me or hold my hand – only to find them staring at me with a despising look on their faces. I shut up and closed my eyes.

Another big mistake. The moment I shut my eyes, images of all the “plane crash” disaster movies I had ever seen came rushing back in waves, reminding me of the horrors of AIRPORT 1,2,3,4,5…, the beginning of the TV show LOST, and a memorable graphic crash scene from the 90s movie FEARLESS. The latter, however,  gave me some hope, as Jeff Bridges’s character survived the crash after all, and decided he was invincible from then on. I might be the lucky one this time.

The turbulence never let up. It lasted the whole flight. Getting worse and worse, till we were told that we should start landing procedures. Never had I experienced anything like that before. I was shaken to my core when we arrived in Paris, and almost missed my flight to Brazil, having totally forgotten to adjust my watch to account for the one-hour time difference between London and Paris. My lips felt dry and white.

My heart goes out to the passengers on board any doomed flight. I deeply sympathize with how they may have felt in the final moments, as I believe I’m a survivor.

On the peaceful 12-hour flight back home from Paris, I resumed the crossword puzzle I had abandoned when chaos took over the flight from London to Paris. The 10-letter word I was looking for was obviously TURBULENCE.

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

The power of storytelling (the mythological structure)

“There is no doubt fiction makes a better job of the truth.” 
 Doris Lessing

Those who have seen the film LIFE OF PI will have no problem relating the quote above to the movie’s main theme. At the end of the movie, we understand that the narrative may as well have been a metaphorical one, and we are asked to choose which version of the truth we would prefer: the one told through analogies and mythology or a raw sequence of facts. I have made my choice. You will have to make yours.

Like all great movies, Life of Pi lends itself to a number of interpretations, has layers and layers of meanings, and covers many different themes. The one that resonated the most with me, however, was its acclaim of the power of storytelling.


Carl Jung, the renowned psychoanalyst, pointed out that the characters (archetypes) and motifs we find in mythological stories are the same we generate in dreams. Joseph Campbell, the famous mythologist and writer, in his seminal book THE HERO WITH A THOUSAND FACES, took Jung’s ideas further and proposed that all stories involving the myth of a hero have the same deep structure and feature the same archetypes, although they appear in different shapes and forms: the myth of the hero wears a thousand faces after all. In his book, he analyzes a great number of mythological stories from different cultures at different times to prove his point. He is very persuasive, I must admit.

In the 1980s, Christopher Vogler, a Hollywood development executive, adapted and simplified the ideas of Joseph Campbell to be applied in scriptwriting and moviemaking. He compiled a seven-page memo for the big shots in Hollywood that revolutionized the industry. Later this memo was turned into a book (The Writer’s Journey) which, to this day, is considered a bible for scriptwriters in the business. After all, important directors such as George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, and Francis Ford Coppola had all drunk from the fountain of Campbell’s ideas to produce some of their most brilliant works.

Without getting too technical, let’s just cover the main steps of a typical hero’s journey to give you an idea of the phases of stories that deeply resonate with us, basically because they find an echo in the depths of our psyche. Then, if you are interested, you can expand your knowledge by referring to the original and more complete sources. A typical mythological hero follows this path:

Ordinary World: at the beginning of the story, the hero is shown in his natural habitat, living his normal life, but we can already sense that he does not really fit in, there’s something missing, he may not be totally adapted to the context.

Call to Adventure: at some point afterward, the hero is called upon action. Something happens that affects or changes his life. The news that prompts the change is usually brought to him by an archetype we call the herald. Unless the hero does something about the novel situation, his life or the lives of his friends and loved ones will be in danger.

Refusal of the call: but the hero resists the call. He comes up with all kinds of excuses not to embark on this journey. He is afraid.

Meeting with the mentor: at this point an older man or woman, usually grumpy or funny, shows up and intervenes, lending the hero guidance and support, goading him to take the bait and start his adventure.

Crossing the first threshold: that’s when the story gets really started, the hero accepts the challenge and will confront his first problems. An enemy will try to prevent him from entering the world of the adventure. The hero will somehow manage to bypass this entity and move on.

Tests, allies and enemies: now, for a long stretch of the story, the hero will be going through a series of trials and obstacles on the journey towards his goal. He will meet supportive characters but also many foes, of all kinds, will cross his path.

Approach to the innermost cave: all the obstacles will lead him to the biggest of them all. The hero and his allies prepare for it.

Ordeal: arriving at this climactic point, the hero will face death or an almost insurmountable problem.  He deals with it as bravely as he can.

Reward (seizing the Sword): he survives the ordeal and gets a prize (a metaphorical “sword”), which will help him get  through the rest of his mission.

The Road Back: now, with the mission almost accomplished, the hero will try to get back home. He’s already transformed  somehow by the experience, but will still have to confront a lot of opposition (usually represented by a “chase scene” in modern movies) before he gets back home.

Resurrection: this is the hero’s final problem, occurring right before he’s able to cross the threshold back home. Another climactic moment. The hero struggles courageously and is rewarded with the “elixir” (something that he will take back to the community he came from to help the others get to a more elevated stage)

Return with the Elixir: the elixir is passed on to the community. End of the story.


Joseph Campbell

If you pay close attention to the movies you like the most, you will be able to identify this structure. Of course, this framework should lend itself to all kinds of variations. It’s not supposed to be a formula. Some of the steps may be missed or shuffled around, the circumstances and situations the hero finds himself in can be very diverse. This is what makes movies and stories magical. But the firmer the skeleton of the narrative, the closer it gets to the steps of the myth of the hero, the more it will resonate with an audience.

Nevertheless, to really understand how stories are built, we would still need to discuss the archetypical nature of the characters in narratives in more detail (remember we mentioned the herald and the mentor in passing?),  but that is beyond the scope of this post. We will resume this topic in a future post.

Also, storytelling is a great tool for language learning and we will discuss how it can be used in the classroom on another occasion.

For now, that is all.

(you may way now to read my post MORE STORYTELLING TIPS FOR MARKETERS: )

Au revoir

Jorge Sette.

Interviewing Philip Roth – the movie

Based on some of my previous posts on Facebook, Twitter and this blog, many of you will already know that Philip Roth is one of my favorite writers. At 81, he is considered by many the greatest living American writer. I can’t get enough of his books. They usually investigate the depths of the human soul, are packed with painful truths, but also convey a dark sense of humor, which makes them irresistible.

Although I have already reread many of his novels, the good news is he’s so prolific that I haven’t been able to cover the whole list yet. So there is a lot to look forward to. I don’t think I will ever have an opportunity to talk to him in person, as he is very reclusive and private. And, to be quite honest, I would not like that to happen, as I want to preserve the idealized image I have of him – so I imagined what an interview with him would be like. His answers are known quotes.