Game Change

Like many of you, tonight I watched the opening ceremonies of the Olympic Games in Vancouver. It’s something I’ve looked forward to with almost addictive fervor. “Hi, I’m Cathy and I’m an Olympiholic.”

To be honest, I was glad the USA wasn’t hosting because who could compete with China’s stunning ceremonies two years ago? They set the bar impossibly high. I was concerned for Canada and the comparisons that would obviously be made.

So when groups of native peoples danced over the ice – each doing their own versions of the steps with no apparent attempt to synchronize the show – I thought, “Oh-oh.” Granted, the native costumes sparkled with unique ethnic beauty, and the set was definitely a wow, but I had all that perfect Chinese precision in my head. Wasn’t Canada going to even try and compete?

But it didn’t take long for me to get caught up in the power of the story. With techno-visuals that must rival Avatar (I haven’t seen it, so I can’t say for sure), the stage of ice broke and parted; the seas simmered with salmon, great whales, and other creatures. I was glued to the TV, wanting to see more. I didn’t even miss the precise moves that so awed me in 2008 because I was captured by the story of Canada, seen through the eyes of its patriots. I watched to the last…to the spectacular lighting of the torch.

As a writer, I should have remembered. Story is king. Even if all the words are perfectly placed and tantalize the ear with fabulous phrases, if you don’t have a good story no one will read the book. Or not for long. No one will publish it either. The key is for the reader to be swept up into the story, to go on an emotional adventure with the hero. Maybe in this case, with many heroes who have many stories to tell.

Precision is one thing and in China, it was intoxicating. But story is all.  And Canada captivated me with hers. I’m anxious to find out what happens next.

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