What can a writer learn from OPS’s beach speech?
Not too long ago, Chief Minister of Tamilnadu came out in open and confessed that he was forced to resign his CM post. You can watch the full video here. I found it really exciting. He was an underdog. He was trolled by politicians and public alike. But then he did this. So what can we, as writers, take away from this speech?
Build your audience
The chief minister could have called for a press conference at his home and informed everybody what he wanted to say. But he chose to go to the former CM’s memorial and sit in meditation for forty minutes. Media channels and public were stumped by this. Why was he meditating? What is going to happen? Nothing happened for forty minutes but slowly the public sat glued to their TV sets.
You may have a great story to say. But if you don’t trigger the curiosity of your intended audience, it is all waste.
The biggest mystery in Tamilnadu is the mystery surrounding the death of our former CM. She was hospitalized for seventy days, nobody knew what was going on and nobody was allowed to even have a glimpse of her. Mr. Panneer Selvam could have started the story wherever he wanted. But he started with what people wanted to hear, though he didn’t give away anything. He started by saying, he want to tell some truth and he went on to say how he was forced to become a CM when former CM was sick. Now, everybody is hooked. They are going to listen to him as long as he talks.
Hook is the first vital part of your writing, bring your audience closer. They were curious before, but with hook, you get their attention.
Mostly, we writers, tend to jump into the action. That is correct in so many ways. But Backstories are also important. Even the writers of superhero franchise fail while giving the backstory movies to us. We want the super heros to act and not emote. But since Panneer Selvam had a emotional hook there, he developed in what circumstances he was made CM and how slowly the climate changed and the other party wanted to gain control over the part.
Conflicts, Conflicts and more conflicts
Now that he had established the hook and backstory, he wasted no time and moved on to tell us the hardships he faced. The notorious Vardah Cyclone and the government’s action; How he brought Krishna river water to Chennai, which is facing critical water shortage. Then the Jallikattu protest and how he brought in an ordinance and then the oil spill in Chennai coast and how he handled it. Everybody loves an underdog to win. Especially when he came across such hurdles. He didn’t have the advantage of former CM, who, for some reason was admired just because of her gender. So he had to tell it loud. And he did it in style. When we start rooting for this unlikely hero, he brings in the main conflict of how the party ministers, betrayed him and talked behind his back.
Now there is no going back.
When there is conflict, we act
The third act’s first half is where the protagonist deals with the mighty blow and starts standing up for himself. And that is where we show how lethal the antagonist is going to be. Panneer Selvam seems to have a very clear idea about how he should go about it. He explained how he fought for his right and welfare of people and party (?!) and how he was constantly betrayed, pushing him deep into the abyss.
And not at one instance, he took the name of the opposite party. But he explained how he stood powerless before them. Automatically the other party looked menacing.
Resolving the conflict and climax are two different things. Most of my writer friends would agree with me on that. So he was forced to sign and he did. That is the resolution here. A hardworking, underdog hero gave in to fate. And he gave way for the opposite party to become CM. Nobody likes a hero to lose. I don’t. So, what does our man do? He comes out in public with his side of explanation. And suddenly we have a satisfying ending. As a closing line, he says he will fight for justice even if it is going to be a lonely battle.
And suddenly a Dark Knight was born.
Whatever happened afterwards is a different story. I was just talking about how the CM scripted his speech so that it had maximum impact he desired. The other party didn’t have this structure when they gave numerous press conferences later on. And that was the reason they couldn’t gain any public sympathy.
Story telling is really important for any business, politics, movie, play or novel. I think we all could learn a thing or two about story telling structure from our ever smiling CM.