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

Thursday, June 20, 2019

Words With Impact: Discern Typology Introduction

Workshop: Discover Words That Sing

“That old fossil, those old bones, walk again, and sing and dance and speak with a new tongue. The old stories bridge the centuries.” Jane Yolen


There are several opinions as to how many plot patterns there are for stories and how they can be interpreted. However the very basic two are considered to be 1) the hero or heroine leaves town, or 2) a stranger comes to town. It is quite amazing to see how many stories and movies fit into these types.

But just as these two plot structures can be repeated several times, and in several ways, they are not a formula. Yet they can be considered a typology in that every reader or viewer has an immediate connection to the premise. The frame might be an old story but it has the capacity to bridge the centuries regardless of genre.

The characters, phrases and patterns we internalize through our personal histories, literature, scriptures, folk-tales, songs and culture continue to add mythic depth in our reading and our writing. We make ‘copies’ of the original typology and pass them on through the generations. Some become so familiar that they enter into everyday language as common metaphors or references, both across languages and within ethnic cultures, giving us shortcuts.

Terrible sea incidents become tied to Poseidon allusions or flood. Rainbows are considered a sign of promise around the world. Black holes immediately spell danger. So does Godzilla, regardless of the language being spoken.

We use a modern version of typology when we give social references. “They’re calling her the new Marilyn Monroe.” The allusion of course is toward the actresses’ public personae and probably has no basis in comparison to either personality.

Or one friend introduces another at her party. She confides, “Watch out for that one—he’s a flirt. Stay away from that one—he’s a wolf.” In a shorthand version the explanations are clear. With the flirt type no one gets hurt if you play by his rules, however, with the wolf type there are no rules. One gives an impression of harmless fun whereas the other is a predator. Little Red Riding Hood stories have grown cute over the years but the early versions are quite disturbing with strong undercurrents of sexual danger. Were medieval mothers trying to protect their young daughters from men in powerful positions, lord of the manor types, and so used the metaphor of familiar dangerous, hungry wolves that prowled their forests in the winter as the warning?

Action Steps:

1. Choose two of your favorite movies and keep track of all the familiar and unfamiliar types you identify with—whether setting or character traits or story plot.

2. Compare in what way they copy something in your own life or experience or imagination.

Share: Did any particular image or reflection surprise you?

Read deep, marcy

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"The Seeker" Rachel Marks | Content Copyright Marcy Weydemuller | Site by Eagle Designs
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