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

Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Building a Story World


This environment can be by choice, by birth or by capture. For better or for worse your character is tied to this place. For example, in the movie Phantom of the Opera everyone who participates in the opera has a stake in giving good performances. Jobs and reputations matter. Yet, there are a variety of mini-cultures within the overall setting such as the behind the walls laundry room, carpenter shop and stable. Some vocations may or may not ever communicate with one another.

Although I find labeling people to be derogatory there has been a reason that so many high school based movies are divided by category names. It introduces immediate conflict. One classroom alone can create its own mini-world. The Breakfast Club is a great example of characters being forced to examine and choose what mores will define them within their cultural environment.

In The Hero and the Crown, by Robin McKinley, Aerin, as a king’s daughter, has many privileges. At the same time she has prescribed boundaries. As a princess she is not allowed to cross royal protocol, especially when dealing with visitors or emissaries. Yet even within those boundaries Aerin chose to cross culture with the people of Damar, within and without the castle, regardless of income or status. She treated all with respect and took the time to build communication and relationships. Whereas her relative Galanna stood on her royal blood and demanded everyone treat her “with the greatest deference humanly possible.”

1.                    Choose a boundary area in which your protagonist did not have permission to cross as a teenager. Write up a brief situation in which he submitted to the rule. And another brief situation in which he deliberately broke it.

2.                    What emotions did he experience as an after-effect?

Share: Which emotional version do you think is most effective for the situation you have your character in now?

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