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“You enter the extraordinary by way of the ordinary.” ~Frederick Buechner

Tuesday, May 15, 2012

Building a Story World

Genre Typology

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.

Writing Exercise

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 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.

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