Gathering Structural Support

I’m gathering resources to create some kind of structure checklist for my writing and wanted to share 3 useful lists and concepts I’ve encountered the past week.

structural support

Companion Archetypes

From Christopher Vogler‘s The Writer’s Journey via Wikipedia, the 8 major character archetypes in the hero’s journey, the monomyth:

  1. Hero — someone who is willing to sacrifice his own needs on behalf of others
  2. Mentor — all the characters who teach and protect heroes and give them gifts
  3. Threshold Guardian — a menacing face to the hero, but if understood, they can be overcome
  4. Herald — a force that brings a new challenge to the hero
  5. Shapeshifter- char —cters who change constantly from the hero’s point of view
  6. Shadow — character who represents the energy of the dark side
  7. Ally — someone who travels with the hero through the journey, serving variety of functions
  8. Trickster — embodies the energies of mischief and desire for change

I have to ask myself: who inhabits these roles in my books? They all add something, so I also have to ask, who’s missing?

The Archetypes in Real Life

Chris Taylor of Actionable Books wrote an intriguing article about seeing those archetypes in real life, in the people we work with and around, those who support or oppose us in our goals. Not directly writing-related, but thought-provoking.

I liked this bit:

Share your quests openly. Some will oppose you – these folks are plot devices; their very existence makes your story more interesting. And some will join you – these are your companions; it is only through adding their unique skills to the mix that you can typically achieve your goals.

Obligatory Scenes and Conventions

Robert McKee’s Story presents the concept of “the scenes every genre must have.” Shawn Coyne, at Story Grid, expands expounds explains. Here’s his OS checklist for a serial killer thriller:

  • Crime/MacGuffin
  • Villain makes it personal
  • Red Herrings
  • Clock
  • Speech in praise of villain
  • Hero at mercy of villain scene
  • False Ending

Where’s Your Toolbox?

I have the distinct impression that many of the new breed of writers believe that the job is to sit down and write. They write and write.

Writing is only one part of the job. Larry Brooks at Storyfix teaches us about planning to write. Shawn Coyne at Story Grid teaches us about what to do with what we’ve written to make it better. Others teach us how to sell our writing, which seems to be the other stop (besides the writing) everyone knows they need to make, despite the near universal dislike for it.

Besides writing, what’s in your toolbox?

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