Tuesday, May 29, 2012
Friday, May 25, 2012
Tuesday, May 22, 2012
Typology in Social Structure
What types of social structure will best establish a foundation for growth and conflict? We’ll examine the government formats in a later session, but begin here at the basic family core. Even if your world no longer follows those principles there still has to be a remnant for or against, especially if you’re in a dystopia or utopia. Is it a patriarchal or matriarchal-based family structure? Does the fairy Queen rule or does the Chieftain?
Here’s an interesting question to start brainstorming with. What is the society’s attitude towards their children and at what point do they see them as independent? A good study of one range of criteria can be found in any BBC historic series set in the late 1880’s where some children from five up worked in appalling factory conditions on one end of the economic scale, while others were raised by servants and nannies and boarding-schools with minimal contact with their parents. This is a particular focused view of course, which doesn’t necessarily fit all the truth of that era, but the principle holds. What would an outsider looking in think of this society by watching how they care for their young?
Exercise: Choose a specific culture, historical era, and geographic location that could bolster or conflict with your story world. Apply the above questions/concepts. Become a social investigator for this timeline. What can you adapt for yourself?
Share: Did you find any surprises?
Friday, May 18, 2012
Tuesday, May 15, 2012
Each genre also has its own special qualities or typology for their heroes. The “western” qualities are just as popular now as when first introduced into literature, but now you might likely find them in outer space. The location changes but the core qualities don’t. A place to begin might be to list what you consider to be heroic qualities. Are you looking for a Batman or a John Wayne, or is your hero a parent who shows up every day. What do you consider to be the difference between a hero and a role model? These questions will help you decide where to look for the ‘types’ that will best flavor your novel with the right added depth whether you are looking in characters, plots, or setting.
Be careful not to overuse though unless you are writing them exaggerated with a purpose. Shakespeare’s use of ‘fools’ in his plays stood out in dramatic contrast to the ongoing drama, but he had a reason to portray them as such. We’re looking here at using the concept without neon lights. Think of the type as an invisible template. Then let the character follow his personal storyline.
1. Choose one character from a familiar folktale. What qualities make him/her that ‘type’?
2. Can you match those qualities to a real-life person either historically or contemporary?
3. Is this type or archetype important today? Why or why not?
4. Can you adapt this personality to a minor character in your novel?
For example: Although popular versions of The Three Little Pigs have made all the piglets male, note that the version given on www.surlalune.com does not specifically say ‘he’ for the first one. So in my adaption version the first character sent out on her own is approximately eighteen. She is slender and can pass for a boy and has gone into the world disguised as one. I might look up a list of well-known and well-written characters in disguise and make a list of common attributes. And /or I will make a list of what is required for a person to carry off such a disguise effectively and see if she matches a type.
Share: Give us the qualities you chose for your type. See if we can guess who you based them on.
Friday, May 11, 2012
Tuesday, May 8, 2012
Does this character description remind you of anyone in particular?
-on top of the power hierarchy but his power is not boundless
-can be still be opposed, deceived, and tricked although dangerous to do so
-in a long term marriage but has endless affairs
-does not participate in petty arguments and schemes of daily activities
-can be extremely vengeful
Based on familiar movies, my first response might be a dictator or a CEO of a vast financial/business empire, or a James Bond 007 villain. But these are some of the characteristics given in Greek mythology to Zeus. Somehow they still sound quite modern.
John Truby, in his book The Anatomy of Story, notes that the character Tracy Lord in The Philadelphia Story can be compared to a goddess, not only because of her beauty and grace but also her coldness and fierce sense of superiority to others.” We want to tap into that inner character connection—the moral or soul voice and highlight the ones that fit our characters.
Exercise: Choose an historical or scriptural character that exemplifies their moral or immoral compass based on their character description.
Share: Where might we see that ‘person’ in today’s culture?
Friday, May 4, 2012
Tuesday, May 1, 2012