Tropes, Archetypes, and Sterotypes

Was looking over tropes and archetypes and came across something interesting.  In my novel I needed a mentor archetype to teach my MC (hero) the ropes. The MC is white and the mentor is black. I didn’t think this was a trope, but came across what is called “magic negro.” BTW I bristle at the word, and should. It’s a pejorative.

For those not in the know, the term refers to a black character, usually of a lower economic and social standing, who is “in touch with the earth,” and may or may not possess magical powers. He or she may be the sole black person within the story, and his/her sole purpose in a story or film is to find the clueless white leading character, and give him or advice, then sacrifice himself for the MC.

This magic black man/woman typically doesn’t have their own storyline other than he or she is to be the MC’s guide. The magic black person has no family, no origins, and kind of a blank slate. This makes their character role pivotal, but also underwhelming.  Even Obi-Wan got to hang out and guide Luke after his death. Dude had more than agency—he had staying power.

By contrast, mentors are the archetype, and serve to guide the hero. They may sacrifice themselves, however they have agency and are viable parts of the narrative. For the record, the mentor for my novel has magic, and knowledge he teaches the MC how to use magic properly, but this is a world where magic exists.

The mentor in my novel evolved from being simply a mentor, to having elements of an ally (potential friend/companion), and trickster (who’s side are you on, anyways) archetypes.  He definitely has his own story arc, and he’s not the sole person of color in the story.

For the record, I love mentor roles in stories. I also love teachers, ad teaching. Academics is important to me personally. It’s important for me to get story elements correctly without falling into tropes and/or racial stereotypes.

Do I think I can have a black mentor for a white student? Do I think the roles can be misconstrued or misunderstood?  Can I give my mentor the role he deserves, past perceived limitations? Can I even defy expectations by not having a mentor be perfect or a great role model? The answer is “yes” to all of these questions.

Happy creative endeavors.

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An Emotional Response

Here’s something I was thinking about, in regards to writing stories and scripts. I was wondering what and how I, the writer, can create something that I, the viewer, could emotionally respond to. Sounds simpler in my head.

A while ago, I wrote out a story where the characters’ actions dictated a lot of the conflict, as opposed to dialogue. It had a sense of urgency and danger, and I kept the scene, not knowing how or when to use it.

I experimented with this method a couple of times, then abandoned it. There was, however, something to be said when you can only imagine parts of the sounds and words, as well as feeling the urgency and danger.

I think that time has come to revisit this aspect of writing.  I don’t have a why now so much as it crossed my mind moment, and I’m always looking at ways to tell stories and retain some impact past a moment.

Happy creative endeavors.

Creature Features

I’m convinced, in large part, to write screenplays one must watch movies al the time. In my current gaming first mode, there have been less and less movies in my free time. That said, I told myself to find some films on TV to watch. No easy task for a constantly finicky film watcher, right?

By chance John Carpenter’s The Thing was on, so I watched it. I remember when I first saw this film, was too young to appreciate all the nuances of the film, but it did frighten me. Somehow I ended up watching a piece of Kong Skull Island, and I always wondered why monster movies aren’t the joy they used to be.

Granted, The Thing is more of a horror movie filled with paranoia, survival, isolation, and thriller elements. It reminds me of how I love monsters—at least in fiction, and how awesome they can be. I have a small list below of some I’ve seen and loved.

Note: DelToro always makes such interesting creature films. Not surprisingly I like several of his films. I do think his strength is incorporating elements of fairy tales in his stories.

Also some of these films are crossovers in genres. For example, Predator has thriller, science fiction, and action elements in addition to being a creature film. Alien is science fiction and horror film. Pacific Rim is science fiction. It goes on.

  • Jurassic Park
  • Pacific Rim
  • Pan’s Labyrinth
  • Hellboy
  • The Thing
  • Alien
  • Predator

I could add more films, but we’d be here for days. I didn’t get to Tim Burton films, of Harryhuasen films (Sinbad, original Clash of the Titans) Needless to say, the writer in me wants to see more monster films.  Now I gotta go finish watch Skull Island.

What are your favorite creature films?

Happy creative endeavors.

Genre Challenges and Ideas

For the record, I did get some writing done yesterday. I had an idea for a character’s background, and added it to my Moleskin. I was constantly interrupted, but still managed to get it down. So that’s a good thing.

Also spent time contemplating genres and ideas. I tend to skewer towards the fantastical, and that’s fine. I was curious if I could create works in other genres as well. This is me simply having some free time to debate what I could do outside my favored choices o genre.

I also began to think of a horror-themed TV show because why not? Partly I want to know if I could scare myself, but I also like supernatural stories and dark theme, but never thought to put it into a show or a film.

I wouldn’t be unprecedented. Several supernatural shows have horror built into them. Supernatural comes to mind, as does Charmed, American Horror Story, and X-FilesX-Files used to have some scary episodes back in the day.

There was a Dracula TV show–the actual title escapes me, but it had an unintentional, light camp aspect to it, which kind of pulled it away from horror.  I see they were going for a supernatural dramatic vibe, but it was kind of lost in the mix.

Happy creative endeavors.

 

Story Swagger

Yesterday, I tried writing a post about how mood and emotion affect the narratives, characters, and overall aesthetic of the text. It was too long, and didn’t say what I meant. So, I gave it a lot overnight thought.

To give an example of what I mean, a show like Pushing Daises has a fairy tale (or storybook) like quality that is repeated in the visuals, characters, and narrative elements.

Or a film like Bram Stoker’s Dracula was described as an “erotic dream” which did have an impact on the style. It also included a lot of fairy tale elements but that’s another topic.

Last night and this morning, I thought of things like noir, and horror, which definitely make viewers or readers feel a distinct emotions.  Noir was dark, depressing, and had a particular style to the lighting. the characters are a distinct and you had types (hard luck heroes, femme and homme fatales, etc.).

Horror has a basis with fear being the main theme, so elements focus towards that emotion.  The aforementioned Dracula film was steeped in horror, which twisted the erotic aspects into the fantastical, grotesque and frightening.

As a writer, I wondered, and still wonder if style (which incorporates mood and emotion) could and should be at the forefront of my mind as I work on a project.  Also what style am I trying to convey with each project.

It sounds overwhelming, but I think what makes some story distinct and memorable is that they had their own swagger, and internal logic.

Chaos Party

So now that I have my characters, I have been brainstorming episode ideas that I hope will help me expand  into more ideas. I said I wanted ten, but pushing for twenty. My notebook is filled with ideas.  For grins and giggles, I’m posting five of them below.

I want to name the characters, but the generic names kinda helped me not get too attached in an odd sort of way.

These are really raw ideas, and I need to ask more direct/specific questions of the ideas in order to find some tangible answers to the problems.

  • Second Son (MC) has meetings with future self. If this an elaborate deception, hallucination, or does future self have hidden agenda?
  • Mom is having relationship with ex-husband, and MC’s ex-friend.  She loves neither of them, and goes to great lengths to keep this info from both of her sons, and both of her partners from discovering they aren’t her one and only. She is also plagued with managing a staff that she’s distracted from keeping in line.
  • Mom is worried about MC’s stability as people make demands of his time and efforts, so she takes control of his appointments, and people are forced to deal with her.
  • Ex-GF shows up, and she won’t be denied the opportunity to see MC. Even thought she made a mess of their relationship, she feels attached to him, and hates that she can’t break things off completely.  MC has great disdain for her and Ex-Friend, and doesn’t want a thing to do with her, but is stuck in her orbit.
  • MC has a meeting with important political, religious, and social groups that are hell-bent on him catering to their desires, however, he has to figure out how to resolve all demands on his terms, or face being under people’s thumbs.

So Not Together

This weekend has been me, not putting my best foot forward as towards writing.  While I have been writing, it has been sporadic, and not with any intent of completing anything. I feel kinda bad about that, but unless I get off my duff, nothing is gonna happen in regards to things happening.

That said I did write down a lot of random ideas, and thing of the direction I needed to go for not only my novel, but what else am I writing at the moment. It doesn’t help that I am obsessed with gaming to a point that it’s what I want to do with free time.  While gaming is pleasurable, it’s not writing.  I’ve put myself in a hole of sorts.

What does this mean? It means I need to get on point.  If I can put the effort into writing like I do games, I think I can get more done.  Also, sometimes I feel very, very frustrated by the writing process. I was POSITIVE I locked down the total direction of the novel, but I was wrong.

 

Gotta figure stuff out.

Happy creative endeavors.