The Pink Ladies and I have been blogging about the Hero and Heroine Archetypes for several weeks now on Inspiration Ink. I just wanted to give credit where credit was due for the information we’ve devised our blogs from. The Complete Writer’s Guide to Heroes and Heroines, Sixteen Master Archetypes written by Tami D. Cowden, Caro LaFever and Sue Viders. In 2004, I attended the Smoky Mountain Romance Writers conference in Knoxville Tennessee. They had an area set up where writers could purchase books by the local authors and buy books on writing craft. I honed in on the book and purchased it.
I read it a few days later. Rather I consumed it. It gave me an insight into building characters that I hadn’t experienced before. For weeks afterward, I found myself analyzing every character in every book I read and every movie I watched. And it was fun to figure them out. It also gave me food for thought when I created my own characters. I attempted to keep my characters evolving from one archetype to another as they traveled through my stories. What makes characters interesting is the growth they go through while traveling the paths they’ve chosen. I’m not sure I understood that until I read this book and started analyzing characters.
By chance, Sue Viders, one of the authors of the archetype book, read the Pink Ladies’ blogs and emailed me. She’s created a card game named Deal a Story based on the archetypes. She offered to send me a set of the cards to try them. Well I was thrilled. So, of course I said YES!
I have to tell you, I’ve had a blast with them. There are sixteen cards for the Hero, Heroine, Villain, Flaw, Plot, and Genre. There are five Wild Cards in case you get stuck. But the chances are very slim. You deal out one card for all but the flaws. You deal out three of those, one each for your hero, heroine, and the villain. (Because the flaws your characters have will affect the choices they make.)
So, I’m going to deal myself a story right now and see where it takes me. By the way, each flaw card has several options to choose from, so you’re not limited.
Alright, my hero is a Daredevil. He likes to leap before he looks and take enormous risks. He never looks back. He loves to achieve his goals through flamboyant methods. His flaw is emotions. He has an anger management problem. He does not like to be challenged.
My heroine is The Innocent. She is naïve, yet resilient. She lacks experience and street smarts. Everyone wants to save her because she doesn’t look capable of saving herself and she doesn’t fight back. She’s a clinging vine. Her flaw is she’s afraid of being buried alive.
My villain is a Femme Fatale. She uses her beauty and her body to get what she wants, money, power, knowledge. She is strong, manipulative, and irresistible to men. Her flaw is arrogance.
My Genre is a Thriller. A thriller usually has a time element that plays a part in upping the stakes. Like a virus effecting the world population or a ticking bomb about to blow up the world.
My Plot is The Relationship Plot. This involves two protagonists who are being given a second chance at overcoming obstacles created by social mores or taboos. This can include race, religion, social status, personality conflicts, and etc.
So, what if my Daredevil, my Innocent, and my Femme Fatale, all work at a facility that does biological studies on plants to make them more resilient to pests and diseases. Daredevil has earned a certain notoriety/fame for taking plant gene therapy to a whole new level. He’s taken some dangerous genetic chances, but they’ve paid off. In fact, he’s created a sweet potato plant whose leaves and vines are too tough for potato bugs to eat. He’s also made the plant so resistant to mold or blight that we’ll never have to worry about a sweet potato famine ever again.
Innocent had a brief relationship with the Daredevil, but being the Innocent, he found her too clingy and dropped her after just a few dates. I have an idea that Innocent is going to have to do the most growing in my story. She is also low girl in the lab, and gets the busy work. She doesn’t complain or stand up for herself, so everyone dumps on her. But being a junior lab worker doesn’t keep her from being smart. She discovers something weird going on with the sweet potato plants--the blooms are emitting a strange scent that draws bees to pollinate them, but it also affects people, making them dizzy and nauseous. She goes to Daredevil to tell him about it.
Daredevil doesn’t believe her. It’s sour grapes because he cut off their relationship. And his anger keeps him from acknowledging there might actually be a problem.
In the meantime, some secondary character workers have been instructed to go out into the field and cut back some of the vines that are encroaching on neighboring private property. A housing development with accompanied swimming pools, golf courses and etc. With the first cut the vines spray the men with a toxin that paralyzes them and they die a slow agonizing death. Their bodies are discovered, but the reason for their demise isn’t known. Their bodies are sent to be autopsied.
Enter Femme Fatale. She’s the public relations person for the corporation, and has been building a huge publicity campaign about the sweet potato plants. Whole sections of the desert have already been cultivated to grow the sweet potato plants. Because they can be used for food and also to create fuel for all sorts of vehicles, she has built an entire network of people interested in this new technology and it’s going to be BIG. And she’s going to be rich along with everyone else who has invested in it. She doesn’t want to hear anything about problems. And she doesn’t want the death of the workers to taint the campaign she’s organized.
Also, Femme Fatale sees Daredevil as an up and coming mega scientist and she wants to ride his success (as well as other things) to bigger and better opportunities. She’s used her beauty and her brains to start up a romantic relationship with him.
Innocent, believing she’s on to something, conducts some experiments in the lab and discovers that any threat to the plants causes them to trigger a deadly defense. Animals find the vines impossible to resist. And her poor little goats, intent on eating the vines, are attacked with a deadly vapor ejected from the blossoms. They die a horrible death. And it’s all been videoed so she has proof.
I’m going to stop there because I’ve built the ticking time bomb and you can see where I’m going with the plot.
I’ve also built the relationships. At some point and time, my Daredevil will have to open his eyes and see the Innocent for more than just a clinging vine because my Innocent will have to grow and become more than that. She’ll come into her own to help him discover the solution to the problem and destroy the vines before they destroy mankind.
My Femme Fatale will have to get hers in the end for stalling the alert and causing several deaths. And the ticking time bomb will be the housing development that’s being encroached on by the vines, which can’t be controlled.
Eventually, Innocent will be threatened by being buried alive by the vines and will have to face that fear and overcome it to escape, and to learn she doesn’t have to be a clinging vine because she’s strong enough to stand on her own two feet.
And the whole story began with the luck of the draw or the deal.
If you’re interested in Sue Viders’ card game, go on line and get your own set. You’ll have as good a time as I do with them. And you’ll only be limited by your own imagination.
To order go to www.sueviders.com , www.dealastory.com or www.rdrpublishers.com. Or call or write Robert D. Reed Publishers, P.O. Box 1992, Bandon, OR 97411 -- (541) 347-9882. They’re just $19.95 plus shipping.