Archive for February, 2011
Two big winners at the Oscars were The King’s Speech and Black Swan. Both these stories follow a Virgin structure (see my previous blogs) and deal with the desire to explore the interior world rather than the need to selflessly protect the homeland. Does this speak to a trend among writers and audiences to step outside the Hero box and find a new perspective for story telling?
How exciting is this!?
I don’t think this is a brand new trend. Avatar last year was a Virgin story followed by a Hero story. The Hurt Locker may have been foreshadowing. It was the story of a guy who couldn’t stop being a Hero. The prospect of joining with another, letting your heart exist outside of himself as the Lover King must learn to do, was too daunting.
If this is the case, I’m going to bravely suggest that if we want to tell these new kinds of stories we have to rethink some of the long held beliefs as to what constitutes good story structure.
For example, the Hero is learning to be strong, rugged and brave to fulfill his destiny. Writers must make him completely uncomfortable in a foreign environment and throw hardship after hardship at him to show what he is made of.
The Virgin doesn’t go to a foreign land. She stays home in her Dependent World because her need is to hold her own opinion separate from what others expect of her. This is the moment in The King’s Speech where Bertie is ready to leave his Secret World and follow his gut instinct rather that abide by the heavy pressure from the Church to find a speech therapist they approve of. This moment is powerful because it is steeped in a long history of alignment between the Church and Monarchy. It would have had much less impact if Bertie was new in town.
The Virgin is discovering her unique talent which longs to find a place in the world. She does this by finding a Secret World where she feels safe to be curious and follow her creative, spiritual and sensual impulses. The joy she finds here awakens her self knowledge.
The Virgin finds a Secret World where she feeds herself with joy. Yes, she goes back and forth to her Dependent World where she is kept small, and fears discovery of her Secret World, but while she is in her Secret World she is blissful. Bertie enjoys his time in speech therapy and it is in this atmosphere that he grows into the man he is capable of being.
Mistakes or imperfect creations are gifts to the Virgin for they give her information as to what she likes and doesn’t like. All this helps her get in touch with her values separate from those of her kingdom. She faces flops with good humor, often as sources of bonding with supportive friends.
Mistakes in the Hero’s world are life-threatening.
There are many more ways in which the Hero and the Virgin stories are told differently. How great it is that our palette is shifting away from a steady Hero diet.
This is one of the most significant beats of a movie and requires that the writer really know the impediments to the protagonist thriving in the world on a psychological level.
Somewhere in her past the Virgin adapted to her environment in a way that requires her to stay small. She has an unconscious belief that she will not belong or not be safe or not be loved if she follows her own inner guidance system. In this stage she is ready to face that belief and decide if she still wants to live by it.
The clearest representation of this beat I have ever seen is in Ever After. It is the moment when Daniel asks her stepmother if there was ever a moment when she loved her like a mother loves a daughter – unconditionally. She is told she is no more than a pebble in her step mother’s shoe and with a nod of her head she accepts this. She will no longer serve her step-mother with the hope of earning a mother’s love. She is free of her limiting belief. That’s gotta feel good! Harsh but good.
This beat has cleared the blocks making it possible for the Virgin to carry on with her quest to bring her authentic self to the world.
Fight Club has this moment as well. It is when he is in the hotel room and it dawns on him that he is both people. He is no longer the underling or the betrayed victim. He can join all parts of himself and “step up to the plate” in life. Previously he had to create a persona that was better than he believed he could be.
If you want to write really engaging stories you want to nail this beat. Often the limiting beat can be found in The Price of Conformity (beat 2).
I’m working on developing a workshop that applies the journey of the Virgin to life and I have found several Virgin themed quotes I wanted to share with you.
Hope you feel inspired…
“a part of your psychic reality has a view of your life, is autonomous like a two million year old wise person inside each of us. It is an inner guidance system providing an answer when you ask the question ‘ What is life asking of me? or what do I have to offer to life. This journey is not narcissism it is a form of service offering who we are and what we are meant to be…” James Hollis
“To live a creative life we must lose our fear of being wrong.”
Joseph Chilton Pearce
“What we play is life!” Loius Armstrong
“The most potent muse of all
is our inner child.” Stephen Nachmanovitch
“At the height of laughter, the universe is flung into a kaleidoscope of new possibilities. ” Jean Houston
“The mind plays with the objects it loves.” C. G. Jung
“Even if it is well-intentioned, authority has a tendency to exclude its opposite and will eventually become an oppressor.” James Hollis
“Why should we use our creative powers?
Because there is nothing that makes people so generous, joyful, lively, bold and compassionate, so different from fighting and the accumulation of objects and money. ” Brenda Ueland
“When the Soul wishes to experience something
she throws an image of the experience out before her
and enters into her own image.” Meister Eckhart
Desire, ask, believe, receive. Stella Terrill Maan
“…we might be less depressed and less confused if we were to … allow pleasure to be a valid goal in life” Thomas Moore
Enjoy the journey!