Cinderella and the Euro Millions

There are two basic stories:

  • The happy story.
  • The unhappy story.

They can be refined further:

  • Work hard (or not) and become successful.
  • Work hard (or not) and fail.

And they can be refined even further:

  • Work hard (or not) and someone/something helps you become successful.
  • Work hard (or not) and someone/something makes you fail.

In the happy story, for example, a promising young athlete is mentored by an older athlete, who won an Olympics gold medal many years ago. The young athlete goes on to win his or her own gold medal.

In the unhappy story, a promising young athlete is mentored by an older athlete, who won an Olympics gold medal many years ago. The young athlete is badly injured by a drunk driver and is unable to take part in the upcoming Olympics.

Here’s another version that combines the unhappy story with the happy story, or — work hard (or not) and someone/something makes you fail + Work hard (or not) and someone/something helps you become successful:

A promising young athlete is mentored by an older athlete, who won an Olympics gold medal many years ago. The young athlete is badly injured by a drunk driver and is unable to take part in the upcoming Olympics. His/her slow and painful recovery receives widespread media attention. He/she becomes a national hero and completes a charity walk across the country, gaining the admiration and respect of the entire population.

After a bad situation (bad luck) the young athlete gets lucky.

While stories need to feel realistic and authentic in some way, many stories incorporate good fortune through a magical stroke of luck.

In Cinderella, Cinderella does all the hard work cleaning the house, she’s downtrodden, taken for granted and bullied by her stepsisters. And then a fairy godmother appears from nowhere and turns her into a princess. Bingo! She’s won the lottery.

Cinderella is a simple unhappy to happy story, from unlucky to lucky. Stories are variations of good and bad fortune, good and bad luck — dramatic reversals. It’s Katniss Everdeen’s continually shifting fortune, from success to failure, from happy to unhappy, that makes, The Hunger Games such an addictive read.