Thresholds I

Today’s writing question: Would you dare write your characters as tragic heroes? I ask this as it bothers me to think of my heroes in such a bad way, knowing their actions will lead to their own undoing. This is coming from someone who loves to put his heroes through a lot of paces, BUT none of it has lead to them to their deaths.

By contrast I love strength through adversity, which is why my heroes take a beating and keep on moving towards their greatness.   

I ask this question because it forces me to think about turning ALL the screws to heroes who are possibly paying the ultimate price for their actions, and it’s not necessarily a noble sacrifice. Needless to say, I would be plotting and chronicling some serious emotional and physical pain that may or may not be fun, yet compelling journeys. 

That said, what if I had tragic elements that threatened their worlds, but didn’t completely end the characters? It wouldn’t be a true tragic story, but the characters would come real close to danger, and/or death. They’d be fundamentally changed, or at least shook to their core over what could have happened to them.

 

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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.

Damaged II

After the previous post, I looked at each of my characters to see the direction I steered them towards. A lot of my characters stated as an extremely passive. They didn’t act or react to their situations, nor did they reach for a goal, which is bad for story and character progression.

I also previously wrote that it seemed like “damaged” characters (manly from soap operas I used to watch) made things happen in storylines. Those characters with passion seemed to have the freedom to act. When some of these cats got knocked down, they got back on their feet, and tried a different approach.

The above actions are typically what I see with villains in many stories. They could be earnest, aggressive, and assertive. They didn’t simply react, they acted, they had goals, and no one was getting in their way. If you did get in their way, well, you were bound for trouble.

Heroes should be this way as well, and this may have been a blinding factor for me.

In soaps, many heroes (not all) can be passive, unsuspecting, and clueless to the world around them. The hero defined the genre of melodrama, which is, bad things happen to good people. To me, a soap opera hero didn’t have to do much in the story other than be the constant victim of a damaged character.

It’s only when the hero’s caught onto what was going on in the world around them, was he or she able to react, but it’s always at a late, late moment. By then the villain has made attempts to get their goals, got thwarted, and took a different routes to get what they want. The villain has had far more time to for character development and growth. The villain pushes the narrative with great urgency and strength.

Some villains typically do what the hero should be doing in a given story, which is make things happen.  It also suggests to me that the narrative theory is that those only who have desire act in a devious manner.  If you are bubbled and pure you will persevere though simply being good.  Total rubbish.

I believe characters must be active in their own story or they will be supplanted by another more engaging characters.  This may also explain the appeal of villains as secret MCs in storylines.  Think of how flat some storylines are when the hero and/or villains are cardboard. It’s what I’m doing right now.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

The Weekend

Hey,

Today looks promising, and it is. I have to set some committed goals and deadlines for myself, otherwise I may never get anything done. Pretty much like this weekend, where I mostly gamed ALL DARN DAY except for when I was cooking (spaghetti), and I have to take some time to make it taste good, otherwise my family will hate on my cooking skills. Can’t have that.

What annoyed me, and I need to break away from, is too much gaming. So, I need to set aside one hour minimum to get writing done, then I can game.  Also I need to play a few different games. I’ve been maxing out my time on three games that I really need to step back from–if only for a week or two—to put energy towards learning new things.

Also I’d like to see my writing output on a consistent level. I did, before going to bed, jot down some of what I wanted to see from myself, and here it is:

  • I’d like to watch more movies and TV shows. Do something other than gaming.
  • I need to pick three of my writing projects and get them to completion. This means:
  1. Idea (defined)
  2. Premise (refined Idea)
  3. Research
  4. Outline
  5. Writing
  6. Cool off
  7. Revise
  • Gaming in moderation—it’s for fun, relaxing, and a bit of escapism.  Also I can post more gaming vids on a frequent basis.

Reading more. Sometimes it pays to read a novel or two.  Something for enjoyment,

My ultimate goal is to get myself into a healthy frequency of writing with a balance of materials such as entertainment, and keeping up with my blog.  If I can get at least two posts this week, then I’m doing well.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

 

Not Too Busy…Yet

Clearly I’ve spent time creating wonderful title. Life happened.  In the meantime I took pen to paper to jot down a lot of notes for the story which included character notes, and story lines. I’ll post a few samples below to give you an idea of where I am in my thought process.

  • Does the MC fear disconnecting from people (or the world), and how does he reconnect?
  • How does MC’s business succeed or fail as story progresses?
  • Who stands in opposition of his business?
  • Who wants to invest, control, or partner with him?

I didn’t realize this until I wrote the notes down that two of the antagonist can have stronger ties.

I think the business person I created could be responsible for some, or if not the reason the MC is extraordinary, and demands that this ability is his property or a property of his company.

Since you can’t own a person in this country he’s going to try some underhanded and immoral actions.

The antagonist will use one of the politicians I created to stir up some mess, and conflate issues, and sty to manipulate laws and people to his point of view.  At the very least I can see this playing out over several episodes, and cements a couple more characters for the story.

As always, happy creative endeavors.

 

Family Affair

After yesterday’s post I let some ideas marinate some more and found myself asking why these characters do what they do. I took it a step further and decided I should do it in two or less sentences.

Dad: He resents the hell outta his family for cramping his free-spirited style and punished them with 100% no contact for years.  Now he wants a second chance.

Mom: Hates feeling vulnerable after hubby dumped her and the kids, and this has lead to eventual toughness, and her second chance with her son. She fears she’s falling back into old patterns, especially when her husband comes back into their lives.

First Son: Embraces his vices (drinking, gambling, affairs) as they serve his narcissism, and thus makes him feel better about himself.  It’s really about what people can do for him.

Second Son: Has had an emotional disconnect with the world, and has a new chance at life, but must find his voice/confidence, or he’ll drag himself and others down. Often spends time peacefully in his thoughts.

I have more ideas for characters, namely the grandparents. The main thing was to get the family in place.

Also this is a sort of fantastical story, however the characters needed to feel real to me, or else they’d simply be passive in the world. The true tension will come from people not events.

Post-Coffee Posting

Last night, I went to bed early for me (12:30) and this morning woke up to an alarm feeling very, very sluggish. My eyes were heavy, I was slow as all get out, and coffee was needed for my future. Opened blinds to get a blast of sunlight, which did not improve my disposition.  It hurt my eyes. I just wanted to shut them, and if I could, go lay back down.

My family was up and about, annoying me with perkiness and questions, like “how are you this morning,” and “hello.” I only replied with a series of grunts and groans.  I got my coffee, and before I could sip, I was pelted with more perky questions.  I really needed them to stop. I’m still traumatized by getting up, and moving about.  Let the coffee work on me.

Finally I felt somewhat awake and was open to communicating with the fam.

For the record I did do some writing yesterday. I am glad that I did. It was some simple stuff I can need to type, but the important thing was that i got myself writing some material. Hopefully I’ll repeat the process today. Pen and paper works for the moment. Better go with the flow.

Happy creative endeavors.