Jul 16, 2012

Archetypal Awareness - The Quest and A Blogfest Hook

Today is the first of two day for the FFF's blogfest of Hookers and Hangers.

Click here if you would like to participate and to read other entries.

I decided that because of commitments I'm trying to keep to myself, instead of reading through all my chapters and picking out the hooks I like best, I'm putting all my eggs in one basket and just participating with the first sentence of my book for my only hook (ha! rhyme). 

The day before I died, Charlie and I danced to B.B. King.

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Before we get started on today's archetypal awareness, I have had people tell me that these don't appeal to them because they don't write fantasy or science fiction.  While not every single archetype is present in every single story, I really would like to convey the idea that these are in more stories than we think.  To make this easier, I will try to help with more contemporary and non-fantastical examples as well.

We have covered the hero and the threshold crossing so far, so it only seems fitting to discuss what happens after the hero crosses the threshold.  The quest.  This is something that can be issued or assumed.  Elizabeth Bennett wants to find love, but her quest is to find it on her conditions.  Jo March wants to find a path all her own and ends up discovering love became a greater desire than she thought.  Harry Potter and Luke Skywalker are kind of both - they want to go to Hogwarts or to train to be a Jedi, but once they get there, their focus changes - Harry wants to find out about the Sorceror's Stone and Luke wants to save the princess (just going with the first one here).  

Even think about one of my favorite movies, An American President.  Initally, President Andrew Shepherd wants to pass this bill and that bill and win the re-election, but along the way, his focus changes, priorities shift and his quest changes.  And interestingly enough, for all the characters listed, the more difficult the circumstances that surround them, the more convinced they become that what they are doing is right. Elizabeth turns down a few proposals, so does Jo (and then sees her sister accept what she couldn't), Andrew is subjected of media battering, Harry almost dies (how many times Cassie?), Luke finds out that everything he knew about life wasn't. Sure, they have moments of wavering when they have been pushed to what they believe is their limit, but they keep going (external motivators who help with this will be coming in future posts).

And here's the great part about a quest - it generally doesn't end up being what the quester thinks it will be. Sometimes, when we think about a character arc, we get so focused on getting them to the end that the character can fall flat.  Considering the elements of a quest, especially that it isn't what the character thought it would be, can add the roundness that our characters need, give them the relate-ability that is essential.  The quest also helps with the setting.  I really think this is one of the most essential archetypes for writer's to know.

Can you think of a character who starts on what they think is their quest, only to find it isn't? Have you considered this element in your current work?   




32 comments :

Clare said...

Oh wow, that's an excellent hook, now I really want to know more about your story.

And the archetype analysis was great; thanks for sharing.

Stina Lindenblatt said...

Love that you only submitted one hook. Some people did all their hooks for one book. Cool hook, btw.

I'm going to a session at the RWA nationals that deals with the quest in YA. This post has me excited for it. I haven't thought about the element before. I will now. :)

Michelle Gregory said...

starting a quest with one thing in mind and doing something else when she gets there is exactly what my character has to do.

Danielle B. said...

That one line hooked me line and sinker! That's all you needed!

deathwriter said...

That's a good one!

Rachel Schieffelbein said...

Love that first line!!

L.C. Frost said...

Great post on how archetypes aren't just for fantasy. :-) Also, love your first line. Those eggies are safe in that basket.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

All you needed was that one hook!
While maybe not a quest, my main character started out with a set goal in the first book, and somewhere along the way, realized that wasn't really what he wanted after all.

David P. King said...

My most recent turns out to have a different quest than what was started on. Worked well, too. I've really enjoyed this new series of yours! :)

J. A. Bennett said...

LOVE the hook, so good! As far as quests go, I think it should be that way. Even if the character accomplishes the goal they set out to do, they should be a different person in the end becasue of it.

Emily R. King said...

Nice first line!

My current WIP starts with a quest that turns out to be something different. It's hard to do, I'll tell you. I wondered if I was confusing my readers. It took a few betas to assure me I was not.

Donna K. Weaver said...

So kind of like Frodo who was so determined to throw the ring into the fires of Mordor but when he finally got there found he couldn't do it?

Kyra Lennon said...

That might be the coolest hook I've seen today! Great job!

Hope Roberson said...

That is an excellent first line to a book!

Cassie Mae said...

Great line, you only needed the one!

And I think every book has a quest. It's the character arc for me. Even though I don't write fantasy or science fiction, I still give my character a goal.

Leigh Covington said...

Very great first sentence! I love it!

Jenny Morris said...

I agree with everyone else. All you needed was the one line. I'm hooked!!

And I love your quest analogy. I totally agree.

Suzi said...

Ohhh. All your eggs in one basket. That's risky!

Lucky it's a good line!

Brinda said...

Your "hooker" sentence is terrific!

Tara Tyler said...

excellent hook!
and great article! my mc has no idea what he is in for or what he wants to find!

Lynn(e) Schmidt said...

You picked your hook well. I would definitely keep reading (which you know, if you want a beta...umm...I'd like to keep reading :) )

Jade Hart said...

Love the single hooker. It had a lot of punch :)

Lisa Regan said...

I think archetypes are very useful! And your hooker is awesome! :)

Kimberly Gabriel said...

And what a strong hook it is! I love that first line! Well done!

Kelley Lynn said...

That is a great first sentence.

And I love this thought process about a quest. I'm actually thinking about a new WIP that will have exactly this. An MC that starts off on one quest, and it turns into something completely different.

Vero said...

Great post, Tasha!

You're right that once you start on a journey, the focus might---and probably will---change. In a story, if the protagonist starts with a plan and the rest of the story is about how he does exactly that and reaches an end, according to plan, that makes for a rather boring character and predictable story. Neither acceptable today.

Thanks for the great reminder of how a quest can (and should) change a character!

Nick Wilford said...

Brilliant hook! I definitely want to know more. Speaking of which, when can you send me your stuff for critique?? ;)

C.M.Brown said...

Excellent idea submitting only one hook and such a great one at that! Well done.

Jeannette said...

Your one and only hook was great, and I enjoyed reading your thoughts on the quest - I'm a new subscriber!

1000th.monkey said...

Nice! Makes me curious to know what the story is about :)

elizabeth seckman said...

Quality over quantity. I like that.

Trisha said...

Definitely love the hook - and love B.B. King too :)