Has it been a week of intimacy between you and your obvious bits? There’s more to come but first, I’ve been asked, can these exercises be done by non-writers? Certainly. They’re meant to stimulate communication between the left and right sides of the brain which, unfortunately, do not speak the same language. Next week, I’ll explain in more detail why this cross brain communication is important.
When last we met, you were left dangling an archetype and your psyche’s core. These should have a combustive interaction, so hopefully you didn’t get into too much trouble. The energy between your archetype and psyche core reflects the idea of protagonist and antagonist, or the source of conflict and tension, regardless whether expressed in writing or daily life.
Although symbolic, the archetype usually is the more conscious of the two, thus the protagonist. This doesn’t necessarily mean the ‘better’ bit, but the one more recognisable and relatable. Here are the known qualities or factors in your expression of self and in your writing. Yet as a symbol, an archetype is like an outlined picture waiting to be coloured in by your individual nuances. Or in Writing Closet terminology, manipulating your obvious bits can take an Ellie Mae archetype, change her genre and come up with True Blood.
The next step is to extrapolate your archetype. For instance, my documentary film archetype, Witness http://lorahughes.blogspot.co.uk/2012/12/witness.html, can be ratcheted up from bystander to supporter, from Witness to Sin Eater to Pariah. I’ve increased my archetype’s activity level, but not its essence. Any archetype that can be ratcheted, will accommodate greater risk, elicit more tension and yes, move naturally along a dramatic arc.
That arc comes into being when your archetype as protagonist interacts with the antagonist, the ‘savage voice’ or psyche’s core, as I termed it. Typically people describe this core in less traditional words, more usually as a state of being than as an actual entity. The unconscious or hidden nature of the core makes it more difficult to define in a complete form and allows it to harbour all sorts of forbidden treasures. It’s not uncommon for our core to have what are typically ‘negative’ characteristics – coldness, savagery, wildness, fire, lust. It’s a dark bit of magic located in the right side of the brain.
Coming from the right side of the brain, the core can never be taken at face value, however. It’s like trying to hold onto a melting ice cube on a summer day. What looks solid can be the protective layer around something molten; the discordant sound that’s a singer’s voice now silenced; the fleeting spectral that’s actually a stationary person who’s usually ignored. The best way to see the core clearly, is look for its absence in your archetype.
The core of a Witness archetype could be a cave dweller, a hermit, someone removed from discourse with others. The hermit could be religious, misanthropic, a prisoner, or pushed out of the lime light so often that she’s retreated from all hope of starring in her own story. Cores typically are a drama inside themselves, a contradiction of desires and talents thwarted or rejected. They get their expression through the arc of the archetype, add depth to the protagonist’s character by zeroing in on their personal flaws, such as instigating a crisis of faith in an exorcist. While the archetype and core may not be perfect opposites or ‘shadows’, there should be a tension between them. It’s in that tension that your narrative lies.
You can take any archetype and create a story from it, but by knowing your own, you first give your writing authenticity. Secondly, you learn to recognise both archetype and core when they sneak into your writing under other guises, so prevent them from sabotaging what you want to say. I hasten to say, I doubt you can silence them when they show up under cover, but at least you recognise their voices.
All your bits, obvious and secretive are what make your contribution unique & irreplaceable. They only have voice through yourself, so get to know them. They’re going to be around for a while.