The “Debate” Beat

If the Quest for Sustainable Energy is a screenplay, we’re stuck in the “Debate” beat, between pages 12 and 25.

chat Posted Mar 05, 2015 by Rezwan | Category : Obstacles Narrative
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Why are we all ignoring the Call to Action?

The Call to Action has been issued.  We’ve all heard it.  We know the climate is headed for a meltdown. We know people are suffering needlessly without adequate energy and resources.  We know we’re burning through fossil fuels like there’s no tomorrow.  We know urgent action is required. 

We also know we have the resources to do something about it. We have more wealth and knowledge now than at any time in history! 

And yet we dither. 

What’s going on? 

Scholars say that the problem we are facing is “beyond Super Wicked”, and that the human brain is wired to ignore it

Screenplay writers have a simpler explanation.

If the quest for sustainability is a movie, we’re in the “Debate” beat.  Per Blake Snyder in the quintessential screenplay guide, “Save the Cat”:

This is a section of the script, between pages 12 and 25 that used to really baffle me.  When the telegram comes on page 12 informing me that my sister is being held by pirates, I know what I have to do!  So why do I, the writer, have to vamp to the Act Break until my hero does what he’s supposed to? 

The debate section is just that – a debate.  It’s the last chance for the hero to say:  This is crazy.  And we need him or her to realize that.  Should I go?  Dare I go?  Sure, it’s dangerous out there, but what’s my choice?  Stay here? (Snyder, p. 77)

Follow @SaveTheCat on twitter.

Back to the improvised, live action Energy Screenplay in Progress

The debate beat isn’t just a trivial formality. The hero really does need to contemplate what has to be done, and get in the mindset that he/she is ready to go and do it.

In the climate change context, a lot of people are attempting to skip this debate by shifting the focus of what the debate is about. The dominant narrative is: “climate change is real, we have the solutions, we just lack political will.” With that narrative, the call to action is: vote; and the villain is whoever you’re voting against. But notice that with this narrative, you skip right over the solutions, you’re assuming there’s nothing to debate there. But there is. Check out this post for a look at our theory of change and how it differs from the dominant narrative.

There is much to debate here - and the job of anyone who cares about the outcome of the climate crisis is to help make the options and parameters of this debate crystal clear. To help you with that, here are some videos:

The Zero Carbon Coaching Clinic

Here’s a way to walk your community through all the options. Join us to help set one of these up in your town!

Pixar Pitch

It might help to develop a vision of what you want. Here’s our pixar pitch!

We have a vision of what we want: a marvelous quality of life for ten billion people with zero carbon footprint

We know we have to bring a powerful, clean, safe energy supply online to cool down the atmosphere, invigorate the economy and save millions of lives.  We know we have to phase out the fossil sauce.

But there is no way around the debate beat, nor should there be.  The only way out is through. And so many ways to do it.

Cinderella Ball Debate Beat

The Energy Cinderella Project is an attempt to systematically work through the Debate beat. 

The Race to be the first net zero carbon state invites a process for each state to work through the debate and come up with unique action plans that reflect the collective character of that state.

Coming soon: a list of the debate points that are blocking our progress.

Notes & Related:

Story Structure

Source of cool placeholder infographic: J. Heer

Plot points:

0.  Set up
1.  Call to Action
2.  Debate
3.  B Story
4.  Fun and Games
5.  Bad guys close in
6.  All is lost
7.  Dark night of the soul
8.  Finale

9.  Sequel: Sustainability ensues. Proliferation of post sustainability stories.

Character Arc

Who are you in this story? 
*  Hero
*  Buddy
*  Antagonist
Threshold Guardian
*  Shapeshifter
*  MacGuffin
*  Comic Relief
*  Wise Old Person
*  Bitter progress thwarter in need of redemption

You Saw a Fire
Start Here

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