If you grew up watching the Rocky films written, produced and staring the one and only Sylvester Stallone, you know what I mean. The themes and literary elements used by the movie mogul in his screenplay is a study in modern fiction as well as theatre.
It doesn't matter if you think the series was overdone, or if you hated Rocky V; the fact remains that what Sly did in the first two movies alone is absolutely amazing. He hit every key ingredient that makes the kind of story that people love to watch and read. It's no wonder the films were such a success. It's no surprise that we care about Rocky Balboa, the underdog, the street-smart punk from Philadelphia.
Rocky is everything I want to be: tender, streetwise, loyal, honest, and a fighter, willing to go the distance when he feels like giving up. He's open about his weaknesses and willing to improve. He looks for and respects the good qualities of his opponent, yet expects nothing but the best from himself.
When he falls, he gets up.
When he gets discouraged, he remembers who he is.
When he loses, he digs deep into himself and finds the eye of the tiger.
Stallone's work is a shining example of character building, not only in terms of personal qualities, but also in terms of creating a timeless and endearing character that reflects the struggles we all experience in life.
If you're a reader, you have certainly discovered that you love the "Rocky's" in literature. If you're a writer, you need to take a good look at Rocky Balboa and discover Sly's brilliance.
I watched Rocky I and Rocky II this weekend with my two youngest children (it was their first time). And it was the first time I viewed these films with the mind of a writer. Man was I blown away.
My muse was in awe.
As a writer, I think it's important to consider Stallone's work, open it up and analyze it for its literary value because the Rocky films are loaded with everything you need to know about story. And if you're wondering, I checked with literary agent Donald Maass, and he concurs. Well, I didn't actually speak with him, but he agrees with me in the spirit of his thoughts on writing.
Here are 10 lessons I learned from the Rocky films.
- Great stories are built around the internal and external conflicts of a lovable character.
- Great stories teach us what it means to be exceptional and to inspire us to be more than we are.
- Great stories paint the path of change from where our protagonist is to where he needs and wants to be.
- Great stories expose the realities of life, the pain, the joy, the victories and failures that are common to all of us.
- Great stories have an element of romance.
- Great stories have a gripping plot that moves on the wheels of conflict.
- Great stories have tension in relationships.
- Great stories reflect the character of the author.
- Great stories are as relevant in the next generation as they are today.
- Great authors never give up.
Nothing great ever came from a quitter, and we have Sylvester Stallone to thank for persevering after countess rejections, because he knew that great stories need to be told. And he proved that great authors get it done, even when they're down for the ten count.
Author of Reunion & Murdoch's Eyes
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