January 2023 – Jericho Writers
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Utopian Fiction: A Comprehensive Guide

Utopian fiction is a diverse and fascinating genre. It\'s an ideal form of literature for these trying times. In this guide we will:  Clarify what utopian fiction is  Discuss the difference between utopian and dystopian fiction Explore the different types of utopian fiction that are available Discover some examples of published utopian fiction  Consider how you might set about writing utopian fiction  So let’s begin by considering the genre itself. How is it defined?  What Is Utopian Fiction?  A utopia is an imagined, perfect world, often set in the distant future. In utopian fiction, the author has created a setting which is seen as fair, idealistic and harmonious. Its society will be striving for perfection and will seem to have no obvious flaws.   Utopian science fiction often explores the question – \'are perfect societies even possible?\'. However, this question is an interesting one in itself – as many utopian fictions will often expose the flaws involved with a ‘perfect’ and ‘fair’ world. Is there something that is sacrificed in the pursuit for perfection and complete equality? Utopian and dystopian fiction have characteristics of both science fiction and fantasy, but the emphasis is often placed on the emotions and perceptions of the characters living in these conditions.  Sir Thomas More  Sir Thomas More was a lawyer, judge and social philosopher and is seen as the first writer of the genre. He even invented the word ‘utopia’ from Greek roots when writing his first book of the same name in 1516. Interestingly, utopia in Greek can either mean ‘no place’ or ‘good place’ depending on the roots used. More’s Utopia imagines a perfect state and utopian society on an imagined island that has been cut off from Europe for over 1,200 years.   To fully understand utopian fiction, we also need to understand how it compares with its sister genre – dystopian fiction.  What Is The Difference Between Utopian Fiction And Dystopian Fiction?   Dystopian and utopian fiction can often be confused, and the lines between them can be blurred. In this section we will explore the main differences between utopian and dystopian Fiction.  In utopian fiction, we are imagining society that is true perfection. However, in dystopian fiction we are exploring a world where society has gone wrong. It is the direct opposite of utopian and is often chaotic, challenging, unfair and disruptive. The problems that might be affecting our world today (for example war or disease) are often more extreme in dystopian fiction and its depiction of an often anarchist society. It is interesting that in many utopian worlds or settings it will start as a perceived perfect and well managed world but will soon turn in a destructive and harmful dystopian world once the individuals in the setting find flaws in the utopia. A perfect example of this is found in Brave New World by Aldous Huxley, where the State has total control of a supposed perfect state. Another example is George Orwell’s 1984.  Simply put, one explores an ideal society (utopian), the other an anarchist society that lacks justice and fairness (dystopian). So now that we\'ve considered the difference between utopian and dystopian fiction, let’s explore the different types of utopian literature available.  Types Of Utopian Fiction   The different types of utopian fiction include: Ecological   In these types, society is working in harmony with nature to avoid producing waste and pollution, and nature is prioritised. Economic These types of work were popular after the 18th century and explore the concepts of Marx and Engels to explore self-sustaining utopian economies that benefit everyone.   Technological  In these types of modern utopia, technology meets all human needs and functions, to improve their quality of living.  Religious/Spiritual   In these societies, people are living in religious harmony without conflict or warfare.  Scientific  Similar to technology, in these settings science has helped to improve living standards, cure illnesses, and perhaps even help human beings avoid death.  Examples Of Utopian Fiction   Here are some examples of utopian fiction across the centuries. They are all considered excellent utopian works and will help to provide a fuller understanding of the subject. As discussed before, some of these examples – for example Brave New World – are utopian novels that become dystopian, but these genres often blur.   Utopia- Sir Thomas More (1516)  New Atlantis- Francis Bacon (1626)  The Blazing World – Lady Margaret Lucas Cavendish (1666)  Gulliver’s Travels- Jonathan Swift (1726)  Erewhon- Samuel Butler (1872)  Gloriana – Lady Florence Dixie (1890)  News from Nowhere – William Morris (1890)  Looking Backwards – Edward Bellamy (1888)  Mizora: World of Women – Mary E Bradley Lane (1991)   Woman on the Edge of Time- Marge Piercy (1976)  The Culture- Iain M Blanks (1987 – 2012)  The Dispossessed  - Ursula K Le Guin (1974)  The Ones who Walk Away – Ursula K Le Guin (1973)  Star Trek – The Original Series (1966) Herland – Charlotte Perkins Gilman (1915)  Brave New World- Aldous Huxley (1931) When it Changed – Joanna Russ (1972)  Afterland – Lauren Beuke (2020)  The End of Men – Christina Sweeney-Baird (2021)  Now we have shared some utopian examples to explore, let’s consider how you might start to write a utopian novel yourself.  How To Write Utopian Fiction   In this section we will explore some key tips and considerations to make when writing utopian fiction. Explore Theme & Issues  Consider the theme that you want to explore in your utopian fiction. Is there an issue happening in society today that you can explore further in your fiction? Maybe your book will join the group of increasingly popular feminist utopias. Which type of utopian fiction is it likely to fall under? Scientific? Political? Environmental? Or a combination? What could provide an ‘ideal solution’ to the problem you have considered, and how will your society feel harmonised?  Build Your Utopia  Once you have understood what themes you will explore in your utopian fiction, it’s important to understand the setting and the people that will sit within it. Do you need to draw a map of your utopia? Is there a manifesto or guiding set of rules for your people to follow? Are there any compromises to consider? Have fun creating and playing with your world and thinking about the types of characters that sit within it, and the sacrifices they might have made.  Read!  The best way to understand the utopian genre is to read books on the genre. This will fuel your imagination and get those creative juices flowing. So there are no excuses, pick up that book!  Frequently Asked Questions   What Is Utopian Fiction In Literature?   Utopian fiction in literature explores an imagined or perfect world, something that we aspire to, or dream of. In these settings society is seen as fair and just, and people are living in harmony and without fear. Utopian fiction often poses the question, \'is a perfect society or world possible?\'. What Is An Example Of Utopian Fiction?  One example of utopian fiction is the first utopian work, Sir Thomas More’s Utopia, in which he imagines a perfect island state.   What Is The Difference Between Dystopian And Utopian Fiction?  In utopian fiction we are imagining a society living in harmony. However, in dystopian fiction we are exploring a world where society has gone wrong. It\'s the direct opposite of utopian and is often chaotic, challenging, unfair and disruptive. Writing Utopian Fiction I hope that this article has helped with your understanding and knowledge of the vast and interesting genre of utopian fiction. It is extremely beneficial to read and understand this genre, as it poses so many thought-provoking philosophical questions – such as ‘what is a perfect society?’ and ‘can it be truly possible to live in complete harmony?’. Utopian fiction can also help to explore human flaws and weaknesses in a perfect setting.   Utopian fiction is great genre to read and write as it crosses into so many other areas and often blurs into many great works of dystopia. It may seem like a difficult genre to write, but it is such an inspiring one – as it often produces work that makes the reader consider deeper questions.  So, if you feel inspired by this, there is no excuse. Pick up that pen and begin to create that new utopian world! 

Stream Of Consciousness Writing: Our Full Guide

As authors, we work hard to engage our readers. We try to ensure emotion is on the page, craft dialogue that\'s realistic, and make sure our settings place our audience at the heart of our stories. But if you really want readers to get a sense of your character\'s inner thoughts, writing stream of consciousness can be an incredibly powerful and effective device.   This writing technique allows you to express the deepest inner thoughts of a character, and as a literary technique, it can bring the reader much closer to the emotion of the moment.   In this article, I will provide a stream of consciousness definition, explain a little about the history of this writing technique, how you can utilise it within your own writing, and walk you through a few stream of consciousness writing examples.  What Is Stream Of Consciousness Writing? Stream of consciousness is a technique that allows the reader to ‘listen to’ and fully understand a character\'s deepest and unordered thoughts. It’s a technique often used to highlight the complicated ways our thoughts move from one idea to another and allows the writer to delve deep into the mind of a character and their most vulnerable thoughts.   Using this technique means allowing a river of words to flow directly as they form in your mind, through your fingers, and onto the page without restriction. It\'s a literary device that is used most commonly (but not exclusively) in fiction and poetry.  Understanding Steam Of Consciousness  To understand stream of consciousness, you need to first ignore the rules you learned at school regarding punctuation, grammar and structure.  Our thoughts very rarely come as fully formed sentences, so when writing stream of consciousness, you need to embrace that and learn to write your inner thoughts exactly as they manifest in your mind. Embrace run-on sentences that are often interrupted by other thoughts, and questions that lead you from one path to another, and don’t be scared of heightened emotions.    Often in fiction we are warned to use repetition sparsely, but our brains are often repetitive, and so fixating on certain words or repetitive thought processes can highlight the cyclical process our brains use to make sense of the world. Repeated words or phrases are often used to highlight the importance of significant themes.   Our brains don’t ‘think’ using punctuation, and so it very rarely has a place in this particular writing style. When writing stream of consciousness, many authors use italics, line breaks, ellipses and dashes to indicated pauses in thought processes or shifting directions.   Essentially, within this writing style, you are urged to break the rules you were taught and embrace the messiness of the human brain.  What Is The Difference Between Inner Monologue And Stream of Consciousness? There are some fundamental differences between internal monologue and stream of consciousness, and using each technique comes with its own set of rules. Understanding the difference and when to use them is essential.  Inner monologue takes the inner thoughts of your character and forms them into fully coherent and structured sentences. This writing technique allows us to understand a character\'s thoughts but only contains the information that the author needs us to know.   As a literary device, inner monologue still uses accepted forms of grammar, syntax and traditional structure with a natural progression from one thought to the next.  In comparison, stream of consciousness tends to be much less ordered than interior monologue. The author will use the freedom of thought without restriction to immerse the reader in the unfiltered thoughts of their character.   Our own inner thoughts are often chaotic, we don’t think in full sentences, often argue with ourselves and question our own thoughts. The stream of consciousness technique highlights this and allows us to see the chaotic nature of the human brain.  The History Of Stream Of Consciousness In Fiction The term \'stream of consciousness\' was first used by the psychologist William James to describe thought patterns in psychology, long before it was used in literary circles as a narrative style. Back in 1894, James defined stream of consciousness in The Principles of Psychology as “consciousness as an uninterrupted \'flow\': \'a \'river\' or a \'stream\' are the metaphors by which it is most naturally described.”  Later, clinical psychologist Matthew Welsh, MS, PhD went on to further explain this, “Stream of consciousness is writing the first words or thoughts that go through your mind without actually planning or consciously thinking about what you are writing. Some people may refer to it as automatic writing.”  The stream of consciousness narrative has been used in fiction for centuries, but literary circles first highlighted the technique in the early 20th century when describing works by the likes of James Joyce, Marcel Proust and Virginia Woolf.   It’s hardly a surprise that these authors adopted such a technique as it was widely understood that they all had a deep understanding of (and a desire to explore) psychology, and embraced the exploration of thought processes and internal character development to express turmoil and the messy chaos of the human brain.  Looking back, we can see seedlings of stream of consciousness developing in Shakespeare’s works, with soliloquies in both Macbeth and Hamlet showing what would develop later into stream of consciousness. But it wouldn’t be until the early 20th century that writers would abandon use of punctuation and embrace ‘flow’ and actively discuss the use of stream of consciousness to deepen the understanding of character and emotion.  Examples Of Stream Of Consciousness In Literature  In the early 20th century, Virginia Woolf used this technique often, with two of her most notable novels To the Lighthouse and Mrs Dalloway using stream of consciousness as a narrative technique to draw the reader in.   As we can see in the below example, Woolf uses stream of consciousness to voice the internal feelings of Mrs Dalloway and explore memories of both past and present, moving freely from past to present and giving us an insight into the characters true unordered emotions.  What a lark! What a plunge! For so it always seemed to me when, with a little squeak of the hinges, which I can hear now, I burst open the French windows and plunged at Bourton into the open air. How fresh, how calm, stiller than this of course, the air was in the early morning; like the flap of a wave; the kiss of a wave; chill and sharp and yet (for a girl of eighteen as I then was) solemn, feeling as I did, standing there at the open window, that something awful was about to happen … Mrs Dalloway by Virginia Woolf    Poet and author Sylvia Plath often used the technique in her work, and most notably so in her novel The Bell Jar. Telling the story of a woman’s journey through depression, the use of stream of consciousness makes this piece of writing one of her most powerful and allows the reader to really experience the disordered thinking of someone struggling with mental illness.   More contemporary examples of this technique can be found in works such as Beloved by Toni Morrison. This novel, published in 1987, contains many beautiful and evocative passages, but the following example, in the voice of the main character Beloved, perfectly highlights all the techniques associated with this writing style.   I am alone    I want to be the two of us    I want the join    I come out of blue water after the bottoms of my feet swim away from me    I come up    I need to find a place to be    the air is heavy    I am not dead    I am not    there is a house    there is what she whispered to me    I am where she told me    I am not dead    I sit    the sun closes my eyes    when I open them I see the face I lost    Sethe\'s is the face that left me    Sethe sees me see her and I see the smile    her smiling face is the place for me    it is the face I lost    she is my face smiling at me  Beloved by Toni Morrison Morrison does not use ‘correct’ grammar or punctuation at all. Repetition is prevalent and the gaps in the text highlight the pauses the ‘brain’ is taking in between thoughts.   Other examples of stream of consciousness writers are James Joyce, David Lodge, William Faulkner and Leo Tolstoy.   How To Use Stream Of Consciousness In Your Writing  It’s often difficult to break out of learned skills and techniques, and ‘free writing’ can feel unnatural to those who have spent their lives writing in a structured manner.   Try some of these techniques to free your brain.   1: Limit Distractions It’s so important not to have external distractions interrupting your flow. Be fully in the mind of your character; don’t distract yourself with your own surroundings for inspiration.   2: Try Meditation This can help with limiting distraction. Free your mind entirely by meditating and focusing solely on your character and the story in front of you. Getting into a state of stream of consciousness writing often means getting into a state of flow and focus. Mediation can help unlock that space in your brain where you can truly embrace free writing.   3: Do NOT Self-Edit! This is particularly hard for those who are used to writing in a structured manner. To truly understand the thought process of the character, you need to embrace the messiness of the brain which means not polishing those words into perfect prose. If your brain hops from thought to thought, let it.   4: Create A Detailed Character Profile Character profiles are incredibly helpful no matter what style of writing you are attempting, but when it comes to stream of consciousness, it is vital to know your character inside out.   5: Try Using Writing Prompts Use some tried and tested writing prompts. Having a specific topic to bounce from will give you a small feeling of structure to start with, but make sure to stay in the head of your character and free write as much as you can, remembering not to self-edit along the way.  Tips For Writing Stream Of Consciousness Now, it wouldn’t be writing if there weren’t a few contradictions to take into consideration. As much as I have stated that there are not ‘rules’, and though I’m telling you to embrace the messiness, there are a few guidelines you need to take into consideration.   1: Stay Character Focused Remember that stream of consciousness must always be character specific. Focus on the thoughts of your character. Stay in their mind, not your own.  2: Don’t Stop!   Follow your characters thoughts all the way to the end, even if the thought process changes direction. Embrace each fork in the road.  3: Ignore The Rules Don’t use structure, or grammar, or any other ‘learned writing skills’. What Are The Benefits Of Stream Of Consciousness? Each technique we learn as writers benefits us in different ways, so what are the benefits to learning how to write in a stream of consciousness style?  Overcome Writers Block If you are struggling with writer’s block, freeing your mind up to really delve into the motivation of your character can be the perfect antidote. If you’re struggling to organise your thoughts, free writing using stream of consciousness can help you get them all down on the page and reveal aspects of your character that you weren’t previously aware of.  Emotional Release  Writing is often used as therapy and using this technique can be incredibly useful when attempting to tap into the deeper emotions of your characters, or indeed yourself. Adopting this technique will free up thought processes you would generally edit out of your own work.  Elevate Your Writing Skills   To become a better writer, you need to write, write and write some more; however, developing new skills in your author\'s tool chest will always help you become a stronger writer. Stream of consciousness is a technique used to shed light on the deepest and darkest parts of our soul, so this kind of free writing can often illuminate areas we never knew existed which can result in you becoming a better, more well-rounded writer.    Frequently Asked Questions   Why Do Writers Use Stream Of Consciousness?  Stream of consciousness is a great way to allow your reader to truly ‘hear’ the thought process of your character, to see their true and undiluted thoughts and connect of a deeper level with the emotions.   Is Writing Stream Of Consciousness Hard? Like any writing technique, it’s something to learn, but it’s a valuable technique. Like everything, practise makes perfect, but it’s a writing technique that can unlock interesting thought processes and is often a fun process to use in the beginning stages of developing an entire novel.  Stream Of Consciousness Writing Like all writing techniques, stream of consciousness is something you can learn, but practise makes perfect. Many will struggle to break away from the restrictive lessons we have been taught when it comes to traditional rules surrounding structure, grammar, and syntax. However, embracing the chaos can elevate your writing, provide invaluable insight into your characters, and truly draw the reader in to your story. So don’t be afraid, jump in with both feet and swim around in the chaos of the mind. You never know what you might discover. 

Types Of Heroes: Crafting Your Characters

There are times when a character just leaps off the pages of a book and makes a home in your heart. There are times when a character simply draws you into the pages and keeps you swimming in the book, unaware of the real world around you. And then, there are also times when a character makes you want to punch them in the face, only to root for them as the story unfurls.  In this article, we’re going to figure out how your hero can be one such compelling character. We’ll go through the definition of hero, types of heroes, and how you can make your own character evolve into the hero you want them to be.  What Is A Hero?  A hero is the sole protagonist of a story; they are the main character. They often have admirable qualities, even if they are flawed. But they could be nearly villainous characters too, who, by way of the story, develop some of these admirable qualities.   There can be multiple things that make a hero out of a character– apart from the fact that you, the writer, chose this character to be the hero, of course. However, undergoing testing circumstances is one thing that\'s sure to make a character a hero. Heroes have Herculean – yet human – struggles. It’s the extraordinary human spirit that they show that makes them heroes. No matter the kind of personality your hero has, if they’re not metaphorically thrown under a bus, they don’t feel human enough for your readers.   Heroes\' character arcs pretty much dictate the narrative of the story. The journey of the hero is a process and framework in itself. You\'ll likely have heard of the various stages of a hero’s journey. If not, well, Joseph Campbell’s Hero’s Journey is the quintessential writer’s guide to all things character. No matter their journey, though, heroes largely fall into seven categories.   Types Of Heroes  Here are the seven different types of heroes:  Epic Hero  Noble birth, seemingly divine powers, and God-like perfection are the hallmarks of an epic hero. Epic heroes are nearly invincible, with superhuman abilities, making them willing soldiers who fight for their people. Epic heroes can be found in mythology (Hercules) and superhero comics alike (Superman).   Hercules  Hercules is arguably the best example of an epic hero. He’s the embodiment of what the ancient Greeks considered ideal. Be it battling monsters, performing feats of strength, or rescuing those in need, Hercules is the ultimate fulfilment of Grecian perfectionism. Even when, in some accounts, he kills his own wife and children, he seeks out redemption from his sins, making this trait a kind of perfection in itself!  Superman  He might have been raised as an ordinary human being by his adoptive parents, but Clark Kent is anything but ordinary. If anything, his otherworldly powers make him a near-Messiah sent to planet Earth! Even when his powers deteriorate in the presence of Kryptonite, Superman’s bravery and sense of duty never fail.   Classical Hero  Often depicted as brave, strong, and selfless, classic heroes are willing to put their own lives on the line to protect others and fight for justice. They are characters who have abilities, skills, or powers that set them apart from their peers and contemporaries. They might seem ordinary at first, but as the story progresses, they reveal themselves to be extraordinary. Harry Potter, Spiderman, and Luke Skywalker are such classic heroes.   Harry Potter  Harry Potter is a classical hero in more ways than one. Of course, the fact that he comes across as a scrawny preteen, but is actually a wizard, makes him a top qualifier for this hero type. He’s brave enough to willingly confront the Dark Lord Voldemort. Even better, when he wins the elder wand, the most powerful wand known to the wizarding world, he chooses to bury it so that its power doesn’t make him, or others, evil. Come to think of it, his immensely strong sense of right and wrong makes Harry an archetypal character to look up to.   Spiderman  Peter Parker is an average and rather dorky guy until he gains special abilities. As Spiderman, he has superhuman strength, speed, and agility. Despite having such powers, he’s unable to save his uncle from a fatal gunshot. Losing his uncle comes as a great personal loss for Peter. And yet, when it comes down to seeking revenge, Spiderman is a very willing hero, who chooses forgiveness over brute force, time and time again.   Everyman Hero  The everyman hero is the type of hero who represents the ordinary person, rather than the larger-than-life figures typically associated with epic heroes. They may not have superhuman powers or incredible abilities, but they\'re able to overcome obstacles through their determination, resourcefulness, and ordinary human strengths. They may not be as flashy or impressive as more traditional heroes, but they are no less admirable or heroic for it. Katniss Everdeen from Hunger Games andFrodo Baggins from Tolkien’s The Lord Of The Rings are pretty much the epitome of the everyman hero archetype. Frodo Baggins  Frodo is a comfort-loving hobbit and not particularly special – and certainly not powerful – on his own. Though, with some help, he takes on the monumental task of destroying the One Ring and defeating the dark lord Sauron. Frodo persists in his quest, through bravery, resilience, and a deep sense of responsibility. He might be ordinary, but Frodo’s inner strength is extraordinary. Ultimately, Frodo represents the idea that anyone, no matter how seemingly insignificant or unremarkable, can rise to greatness and do something truly heroic.  Katniss Everdeen  Katniss is all of sixteen years old when she has to represent her district in the Hunger Games. It’s a brutal annual competition in which young people are forced to fight to the death, and yet, Katniss emerges as the victor, using her survival skills and resourcefulness. Throughout the series, she becomes a symbol of hope and rebellion for her fellow citizens. Despite being a hero, Katniss is very realistic as a character. She can’t forgive her mother who abandoned her; she has a first-born complex, if you will, trying to protect anyone younger than herself, just as she does her sister Prim; and she also suffers from PTSD. Anti-Hero  The traits of an anti-hero are more villainous than heroic. They are selfish, greedy, dishonest and immoral in various ways. Often, they have a troubled past that chisels their layered personalities. However, in the end, they do the morally right thing, because they know deep down, that they want to do good. “Felonious” Gru from the animated movie Despicable Me and Han Solo from the Star Wars series are great examples of anti-heroes.   Gru  Gru starts out as a supervillain who is bent on stealing the moon, and even goes so far as to adopt three girls as daughters, just to trick his enemy. But as the story progresses, he begins to develop a sense of morality and even becomes a caring father figure to the orphaned girls under his care. In the film, we get a glimpse of Gru’s mother who’s cold and distant towards him. It is possible that her emotional unavailability shaped Gru’s villainy to some extent, as he often does villainous things for attention – something his mother wouldn’t give him. But in raising the orphaned girls, he finds himself nurtured too. It’s how he starts using his skills and resources for heroic deeds, instead of villainous ones.   Han Solo  Han Solo starts out as a cynical smuggler, driven purely by self-interest. However, as the story progresses, he becomes more selfless and heroic, eventually joining the Rebel Alliance and becoming a key player in the fight against the Galactic Empire. Han Solo ultimately becomes a heroic figure as he learns to put aside his own interests and fight for a greater cause. He is a classic example of an antihero, capable of both good and evil, but ultimately choosing to do good.  The Tragic Hero  This type of hero is a classic figure in literature and drama, particularly in the tragedy genre. Tragic heroes are usually noble and have a tragic flaw that ultimately leads to their downfall. Think Romeo from Romeo and Juliet and Oedipus from Oedipus the King. Popular fiction has them too; Jay Gatsby is also a typical tragic hero.  Jay Gatsby  Jay Gatsby, the protagonist of F. Scott Fitzgerald\'s novel The Great Gatsby, is a self-made man who goes from rags to riches, but through questionable means. He\'s manipulative, selfish, and greedy. His inability to let go of the past and his obsession with reclaiming his lost love Daisy Buchanan, leads to his downfall, making him a typical tragic hero. As a result, Gatsby serves as a cautionary tale about the dangers of greed, excess, and obsession.  Oedipus  Oedipus’ ego and pride blind him to the truth of his own identity, leading to a series of horrifying events, ultimately ending in his downfall. Oedipus is determined to solve the mystery of the plague that is afflicting his city and to find the murderer of the previous king, Laius. In his pursuit of the truth, he discovers his own responsibility in the death of the former king, who was his father, and how he has ended up marrying his own mother!  Byronic Hero  A Byronic hero is a type of character that embodies the qualities of the romantic hero, but is troubled by their own brooding nature and rejection of societal norms. They are depicted as being intelligent, charismatic, and emotionally intense. But they are also prone to mood swings, self-destructive behaviour, and a sense of alienation from society. Lord Byron\'s own literary alter ego (Childe Harold), Heathcliff from Emily Bronte’s Wuthering Heights, and Mr. Darcy from Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice are great examples of the Byronic hero type.  Heathcliff  Heathcliff fits this mould perfectly. He’s a complex and troubled character driven by his passions and desires. He is fiercely independent and rebellious; he refuses to conform to the expectations of those around him. Despite his all-consuming rage, Heathcliff is also deeply vulnerable. His actions are often motivated by his intense love for Catherine, the woman he is unable to have.   Mr Darcy  A proud and haughty man, Mr Darcy looks down on those around him, particularly the Bennett family. He’s also slow to form friendships or connections with others, even though he develops a passion for Elizabeth Bennet. However, as the novel progresses, he begins to reveal his true nature, which is marked by a deep sense of honour.   Reluctant Hero  A reluctant, or unwilling, hero is a type of character who is thrust into a position of heroism, often against their will or initial desires. These characters may be reluctant to take on the mantle of a hero because they feel unprepared, unsure of their abilities, or simply because they don’t want the responsibility that comes with it. They may initially resist their role as a hero, but they ultimately embrace it and use their unique skills and talents to make a positive difference in the world. Ove from Frederick Backman’s A Man Called Ove and Ned Stark from George R R Martin’s A Game Of Thrones are great examples of this hero type.  Ove   Initially, Ove is a grumpy old man who resists the changes brought about by his new neighbours, and is unwilling to get involved in their lives or help them in any way. Despite his initial reluctance, Ove softens and goes out of his way to help others. In fact, he becomes a mentor and a friend to the whole neighbourhood. In the end, Ove\'s transformation from a grumpy and solitary man to a selfless and caring hero is a central theme of the novel.  Ned Stark  Ned is a man of honour and integrity who values duty and loyalty above all else. When King Robert wants to recruit him as his Hand, Ned is reluctant to take up the role. He’s much more comfortable as a follower, than he is as a leader. However, when it comes to doing the right thing – like saving the Targaryen girl’s life – he makes use of his position wisely, but at great personal risk. His strong sense of duty and morality make him a good hero, even if he’s reluctant to accept that status.  Frequently Asked Questions  How Do You Classify A Hero?  A hero can be classified based on their personalities, archetypes, and functions. A hero’s personality is essentially the kind of individual they are, archetype is the role they play in relation to other characters in the story, and function is the value they bring to the society in the story and to readers. The seven types of heroes mentioned in this article are classified largely based on the hero’s innate personalities.    What Are The 7 Types Of Heroes?  Here are the 7 types of heroes based on their personalities:  Epic hero  Classical hero  Everyman hero  Anti-hero  Tragic hero  Byronic hero  Reluctant hero  How Can You Create A Compelling Hero? Decide what type of a hero your character is most likely to be.   Make sure you have clarity on your hero’s journey and its stages.   Ensure the tasks ahead of them seem insurmountable.  And don’t forget: your hero needs to be as relatable as possible, flaws and all.  Hero Archetypes As an author, it’s highly beneficial for you to see what type of a hero you’d like your character to be. And it’s okay if it feels like there are overlaps between different types of heroes in the case of your own protagonist. For instance, Byronic heroes and everyman heroes are often also reluctant heroes. But that’s just the complexity of characters. As long as you know primarily how you want to represent your hero, you’re sure to have a strong narrative arc to your story. 

Oana Velcu-Laitinen’s Success as a Non-Fiction Author

Debut non-fiction author Oana Velcu-Laitinen has had an up-and-down journey to publication. Now, having successfully launched her first non-fiction book, \"How to Develop Your Creative Identity at Work\", with Apress (an imprint of Springer Nature), she\'s learned a lot on the way. We spoke to Oana about using our editorial services, the surprising parts of being a non-fiction author, and the importance of finding a writing community. JW: Tell us a bit about you and your writing. Is this your first book? When did you start writing, and why? Ever since childhood, as a hobby, I’ve experimented with literary genres like poetry, short stories, novels and play scripts. In my professional life, in my late 20’s, I earned my PhD in Economics. Writing a book on creativity was not an aspiration for me ten years ago. Back then, I didn’t know that ‘the psychology of creativity’ existed as a domain of knowledge. Fortunately, in a moment of serendipity, I came across a blog article on the habits of highly creative people, which radically changed my professional life. The more I delved into research on creative thinking and creative beliefs, the more I got interested in writing about the versatility of creativity - a concept we all think we know. I couldn’t get the desire to write a book on the diversity of creative personalities out of my mind. My book, “How to Develop the Creative Identity at Work”, was published by Apress in October 2022. I like to think of it like a manifesto that reminds us to enact in our professional roles the multidimensionality of creativity: the out-of-the-box thinking, the resourcefulness, the creative skills and the drive for competence. Now after trying my hand at non-factual writing genres as a hobby, a doctoral thesis and a non-fiction book, I understand that writing is my medium of creative self-expression. JW: What were the challenges you faced when finding a publisher? In 2019 I started writing the first draft of the book. I knew nothing about the publishing industry, but I did have experience in writing and publishing academic papers. I learned that the quality of your ideas and the brand awareness of your university were both opening the doors to having your papers considered by academic journals. Fortunately, in a moment of serendipity, I came across a blog article on the habits of highly creative people, which radically changed my professional life. In June 2021, when I started pitching my non-fiction book to publishers, I realized I faced three challenges, at least: I had a book on a niche topic that was not in the field of expertise of the editors I was pitching the book to. I was a first-time author. I have been working as a knowledge solopreneur for 6 years. My clients know the value I provide - but my name meant nothing to the editors I was reaching out to. Yet, I was driven by my vision to write a book that brought a refreshing perspective on creativity. I hoped to contribute to the field but skip the academic filter, carrying the message directly to the general public. At the end of September 2021, chance showed kindness to me when an editor from a traditional publishing company in London replied with interest in my submission. We exchanged a couple of emails that kept me awake at night and led to no deal. JW: What kinds of resources did you find useful along the way? Like a person who burns their feet walking on hot sand, I had burnt my aspirations stepping into the publishers’ territory. I started looking online for a writers’ community that would tell me that everything would be sorted out one way or another. And that’s when Jericho Writers came into my life.  I hoped to contribute to the field but skip the academic filter, carrying the message directly to the general public. It didn’t matter that Jericho addressed fiction authors mostly. Reading the free newsletters reminded me that I am not the only person in the world with a book to publish. After joining Jericho, I decided to change my strategy and reach out to literary agents. Throughout November 2021, I kept receiving replies like, “Thank you for your submission. We considered your work, and unfortunately, we feel it isn’t a fit for us.” I started to look at the bright side: “Well, at least they replied politely.”. I then opted for the Jericho Writers mentoring service and agent one-to-ones. All the while, I was looking forward to Harry’s next email. In one of the December 2021 newsletters, he asked the question, “Do you love your writing?” That question gave me energy. In January 2022, I bought the Agent Submission Pack Review. Paul Roberts, the editor who reviewed my application, helped me revise the query letter and inspired me to rewrite the book\'s introduction.  Overall, meeting Paul was like breathing fresh air after weeks of illness. He also confirmed my guess that for a non-fiction book, it’s best to pitch the book directly to the publishing houses. With renewed strength, I got back to reaching out to traditional publishers. In March 2022, the editor of a publishing house in the US showed interest only to decide after two weeks that it wasn’t a fit after all. Then, with the last drops of hope, I sent my application to Apress, an imprint of Springer Nature. The submission must have been sent under a lucky star, as at the beginning of April 2022, I signed a contract with them. Meeting [my editor] was like breathing fresh air after weeks of illness. JW: Were there any surprises? After the introduction talk with the acquisition editor at Apress, she asked me to provide the name of an expert in the psychology of creativity - a professor who would be the technical reviewer for the book. I knew many names of prolific researchers in the field but have never been in contact with any of them. In my panic, I remembered a paper that I liked so much that I’d heard myself saying, “One day, I’d like to work with this author.”. Thanks to Apress, that day had come. I emailed professor Vlad Glaveanu the introduction of my final manuscript. He replied within a few hours with an enthusiastic “yes”, agreeing to be part of the editorial team. Publishing a non-fiction book on a niche topic as a first-time author is a test of how much you love your writing and how much you believe in your idea. And to pass the test and keep your sanity, it helps to have a community that lifts you up and the luck to find an editor who is giving a chance to books they haven’t considered before. Publishing a non-fiction book on a niche topic as a first-time author is a test of how much you love your writing and how much you believe in your idea. JW: Do you have any advice for writers looking for a home for their non-fiction book right now? I would avoid setting a timetable for getting the book published. It took several months to find my publisher, and in many cases it can take a lot longer. Instead, focus on reaching out to one publisher at a time and working with yourself to stay hopeful. So, how do you stay inspired during this time? Firstly, I believe that the professional network is a safe haven. Who are the people in your network who have published books? Reach out to them, and ask them about their success and failures. What did they do right so that you can adapt to your circumstances? Second, online writers\' communities can provide refuge and fuel hope. There are many communities out there - you’ll just have to find the one that suits you. For instance, the thing I liked most about Jericho Writers was the underlying feeling of authenticity and talent for writing, above all else. Online writers\' communities can provide refuge and fuel hope. Third, remember that there is a time and place for everything. A time to lose hope. A time to gain it back. A time for dead ends. A time for victory. As long as you keep a flexible mind and try out new strategies, you will be closer to your goal. And there can be situations when changing the goal enables the successful publication of your book. Fourth and last, do not shy away from taking a break and allowing yourself a boost of positivity with someone you love or doing something else that you love. Writing means a lot for authors, but if we let it take over everything else, writing becomes an obsession. And we want to keep it as a passion that makes us into the best versions of ourselves.    About Oana Oana Velcu-Laitinen is a NeuroLeadership coach and trainer with focus on creative thinking to enhance work performance. So far, she has worked with researchers, change leaders, entrepreneurs, and individuals seeking career growth. Oana holds a PhD in Economics from Hanken School of Economics in Helsinki, Finland. Her motto is, “To know job satisfaction, know your creativity.” Find out more about Oana\'s book here. She also offers NueroLeadership coaching here. Follow her on LinkedIn, and listen to her on Teach the Geek Podcast, IDEAS+LEADERS, & CloudReachers.

Character Goals: Choosing Your Characters’ Aims

When it comes to the stories that stay with us, it’s often not a compelling plot, or even a book’s premise, that we remember: it’s how the characters made us feel, particularly when they achieved their hard-won goals.   Because character goals are less visible than gorgeous prose and slick metaphors, they get less attention than they should, despite how they shape our experience. Today, that’s what we’re here to remedy.   In this article, we’ll cover:   What are character goals?  Why are character goals important?  Internal vs. external character goals  Character goal story examples  How to create goals for your characters  A definitive list of character goals  Frequently asked questions  So, what exactly are character goals, and how do you choose the aims of characters in your stories?    What Are Character Goals?  Character goals are the objects of a character’s wants or needs, and what their actions aim to achieve. When we talk about character goals, this usually refers to a story’s main character (a.k.a. the protagonist), though other characters can and do have their own agendas and goals, too. A character\'s goals can be externally and internally driven — preferably, both.   In her book on writing craft, Story Genius, Lisa Cron defines these difficult goals — because if they were easy, there would be no story, right? — as the ‘story problem’. This problem isn’t just the “single, escalating problem” a main character can’t avoid, it’s one that “causes the protagonist to struggle with a specific internal conflict”, with that character’s development changing their worldview by the end.   Ideally, we want both external and internal goals because they carry more weight. Cron states that “story is about … what the protagonist has to learn, to overcome, to deal with internally in order to solve the problem that the external plot poses.” This is true of the stories that stay with us; they resonate, not because of the compelling plot, or even how unique the concept is, but because we identify with the main character and the meaning they make from what happens to them.   But just why are character goals important? To answer this, let’s look at what happens when we take them away.   Why Are Character Goals Important?  Picture this, in any category or genre: you’re reading a book with a main character that you like enough, with a plot that’s interesting enough, and the writing’s fine. But for some reason, you’re just not loving this book. It’s not gripping you. Why? You decide to give it one last chapter. Finally, at the end of that chapter, it hits you: the main character is coasting. The book’s plot is action-packed, but this character is just being propelled from scene to scene and doesn’t really seem to mind, or care. In fact, you don’t actually know what the main character cares about at all.   Cool… Except that you’re experiencing the story through this main character’s eyes. If they don’t care, you don’t care. You’re not invested. And now, you’re about to toss that book right out the window.   Now imagine that it’s your story, and someone else is reading it. See the problem?   According to Lisa Cron from earlier, “this is where writers inadvertently fail … they write and rewrite and polish an impressive stack of pages in which a bunch of things happen, but none of it really matters”.   The reason why is this: without internal and external character goals, it’s not a story.   This is why character goals are so important, because they connect the stuff that happens in your story to why we should care ie. because your main character cares. Personal goals give characters agency, a reason to slog forward against all odds. Sometimes the story might start by giving your character a good shove first, but eventually, they’ll need to take the wheel. When they do, it’s generally because a key obstacle has arisen in the story’s central conflict. When your character\'s goal and obstacle are equally strong and opposed, this is where the magic happens, as it ratchets up tension, suspense, and in turn, the conflict. No one will be tossing your story out the window, now!   So, we know why character goals are so crucial to great storytelling, and we’ve talked about internal and external goals. Now let’s dig a little deeper into them.  Internal Vs. External Character Goals  Internal Goals  Internal goals come from inside main characters, and are motivated by their wants and needs — which can be different. For example, in a dystopian story, your character’s ‘need’ may be survival, but their ‘want’ may revolve around never having found love before the apocalypse (sob).   The simplest yet broadest breakdown of personal goals that I’ve seen is psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser’s \'Choice Theory\', which lists 5 basic needs:  Survival  Love and belonging  Power  Freedom  Fun  If you’re looking to pin down a character’s goal, thinking big picture like this can be a good place to start (more on this later).   Circling back to Lisa Cron again, one of the ideas she proposes in her book is that not only does each main character have a goal, but they also have what she refers to as an “impossible goal: to achieve [their] desire and remain true to the fear that’s keeping [them] from it”. What Cron is saying is that, deep down, there’s an internal obstacle that’s self-sabotaging your protagonist, and it’s your job as a writer to develop their character arc so that they can grow by the story’s end. Which is brilliant! Yes, it’s another conflict to manage, but it also ups the stakes in a way that adds layers and breeds authentic characterisation, so your character is deeply three-dimensional. This can prove to be exciting if your main character is an unreliable narrator — think the protagonist Tyler Durden in Fight Club by Chuck Palahniuk, and that finale.   External Goals  External goals originate from outside main characters, often in the form of some other character (eg. the antagonist) or organisation’s visible goals.   These external character goals are where the surface events of the plot come in, with the goal being a one-sentence summary of what the main character is trying so hard to do, like save the world from the big bad villain.   External goals can also include less personified objectives like finding an item, winning a war, or reaching a destination.   Character Goal Examples  The Fellowship Of The Ring By J. R. R. Tolkien  Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings series is a good one to start with, as most people have either read the books, watched the films, or at the very least, seen the memes — and know that “one does not simply walk into Mordor”. Yet, this is exactly what main character Frodo Baggins’ external goal is: to journey to Mordor’s Mount Doom and toss the One Ring into its fiery pit.   Frodo’s internal goal is trickier. On the surface, you could say that it’s his struggle not to succumb to the ring’s terrible power; but really, in the book, it feels more about fulfilling Bilbo’s legacy as a way to thank and honour his uncle.   Wuthering Heights By Emily Brontë  Apart from being a brooding gothic romance on par with Romeo and Juliet, Brontë’s seminal classic is also a fantastic example of internal goals fuelling external goals, and those goals changing over time.   Enter Heathcliff, a homeless child adopted by the Earnshaws, whose external goal is to survive usurping the family’s son as the new favourite. Heathcliff’s internal goal is love and belonging, which he finds with the Earnshaws’ daughter Catherine. But when Mr. Earnshaw dies and that son relegates Heathcliff to lowly servitude — and Catherine agrees to marry someone else as marrying Heathcliff would degrade her status — Heathcliff’s external goals take a turn. He vanishes, returning years later with unexplained wealth, but Catherine is already married and dies after his return. Heathcliff’s love then morphs into vindictive obsession, as he takes revenge on anyone who got in their way… Or in his way, more generally.   Her Majesty’s Royal Coven By Juno Dawson  Times-bestselling author Juno Dawson’s 2022 hit is an urban paranormal tale about a UK government department of witches (cov.uk as their website? Utter genius). This book is another great example of blending an internal and external goal to drive the story. The main character is ex-HMRC witch Niamh, whose external goal is to protect young trans witch Theo from HMRC — whose leader thinks teen Theo is the prophesied ‘sullied child’ who’ll ruin them. Cleverly aligned is Niamh’s internal goal, which is to let people in after losing her husband to war a decade earlier, starting with fostering teenage Theo and ending in letting herself find love again.   The Martian By Andy Weir  Weir’s thrilling debut science-fiction novel (and 2015 film directed by Ridley Scott, featuring Matt Damon) tells the story of American astronaut Mark Watney. He’s stranded on Mars, communications with Earth are down, and his crew thinks he’s dead. Not surprisingly, Mark’s external goal is to survive until he can be rescued, with his internal goal equally about survival, just more in terms of mental health and never giving up in the face of adversity.   Hamlet By William Shakespeare  Lastly, Hamlet, like Heathcliff, is another example of a main character with complex, richly woven internal and external goals.   Shakespeare’s play starts simply. Hamlet sees a family member’s ghost, his father’s, who tells him to avenge his murder as committed by Hamlet’s uncle (who’s become king and married Hamlet’s mother). Hamlet’s external goal is clear. His internal goal, however, is not wanting to kill his uncle, and he gives a multitude of reasons why throughout the story that essentially boil down to Hamlet being a thinker, not a killer.   Yet this comes undone in the final scene, where Hamlet’s uncle moves to kill him — and, furious after all is revealed, Hamlet finally fulfils his deadly vow.   How To Create Goals For Your Characters  1. Pre-Plan Your Character Goals  I say pre-plan as I’ve tackled character goals after drafting a story before, and believe me when I tell you it’s way easier if you start with them! Not only do goals give you a main character’s internal compass, but they also tend to pre-populate that character’s responses to the story’s events. This means you’re less likely to feel as though you’re beating a path to the plot as you write it, and more likely to find your character drives the story — which is infinitely less stressful. Going back to our definition of external goals, these will generally be pretty obvious and dependent on your story’s concept: solving a murder, winning a competition, stopping a war etc. My biggest tip is to put that goal upfront as soon as possible, so readers know what they’re in for. Check out our list of goals in the next section for some ideas.  2. Include Internal Goals  As you may have noted, internal character goals are massively important, as they help fully realise your main characters. Internal goals are easiest to pre-plan when you have either just a character, or a character and a good story idea, as leading with this means that you can jump straight into goals and character arcs. But all is not lost if you’ve been focusing on your story idea first.   Here, the trick is to ensure your main character begins with an internal goal that aligns with or is upended by the plot, and therefore the external goal they’re working towards. I’ll give you an example: in my novel, the protagonist must travel to a new city and find an ancient object. However, her internal struggle is that she doesn’t believe that she’s the right person for the job; she’s afraid of what it will mean if she succeeds. This fear adds a layer of complexity, as well as upping the stakes as she’s not just fulfilling the plot — she’s self-actualising to prove herself wrong, and growing by the story’s conclusion as a direct result.   3. Plan Your Plot Points  OK, so you’ve pre-planned both your character’s internal and external goals. Great! Now it’s time to put them into action. Plotters will love this part, but if you’re a pantser, it’s definitely worth your while, too — perhaps just in less granular detail.   Your plot points will depend on what kind of story structure you’re planning to follow (three acts? Five acts? One of Christopher Booker’s seven basic plots?), but the key is to pin down a timeline so that each major step in your main character’s external goal, for example, happens when you need to amp up the story’s suspense. This helps to space out and pace significant events while still meeting each act’s milestones.   4. Consider Including Scene Goals  If you’re a pantser, this may be a plot too far, but scene goals work to ensure that your main character’s external goal is on track, and they can also be used as a checklist for their internal goal and its development. And just to clarify — your character’s external goal can and may change (their ally was the baddie all along, what a twist!), so if that’s the case, scene goals will need to align with their internal goal instead.   To do this, use an outline of your plot points to drill down into a list of story scenes. For each scene, then note your main character’s internal and external scene goals; which should be related to their overarching story goals. You can also do this for secondary characters eg. if they have POVs.   5. Write!  You’ve done the hard work on character goals. Congratulations! If you’re inspired, by all means, get writing. If you want to give everything a little time to settle before you kick off, that’s OK, too. Just don’t forget to write!  List Of Character Goals  Internal Character Goals  Realise potential (and overcome issues)  Find family  Find a place to belong   Find love  Live happily ever after  Have fun  Be remembered  Find fulfilment  External Character Goals  Defeat evil  Solve a crime  Free someone (eg a family member) Get revenge  Stop a war  Protect the nation’s interests  Challenge the status quo  Start a revolution  Find / steal an object  Travel somewhere new / old  Get a job  Start a business  Get rich / famous / powerful  Win a competition  Finish a project  Get married / divorced  Have a baby  Recover from illness  Settle a debt  Make amends  Survive  Self-sacrifice  Live forever  Break a curse  Change / save the past  Fulfil a prophecy  Change / save lives  Save the world  Frequently Asked Questions  What Are Some Character Goals?  Character goals can be internally or externally driven. Internal goals arise from inside a character, and are motivated by what they want or need. External goals come from outside a character, and are what they must undertake and usually succeed in by the end of a story.   Examples of character goals include: overcoming self-doubt, finding love, solving a crime, defeating evil, finishing a project, getting revenge, or saving the world.   How Do I Determine My Character’s Goal?  To determine a character’s goal, try starting with psychiatrist Dr. William Glasser’s ‘Choice Theory’, which details 5 basic human needs: survival, love and belonging, power, freedom, and fun. Depending on what your story is about, these should give you a jumping off point for a character goal that’s internal or external.   What\'s The Difference Between A Character’s Goal And Their Motivation?  A character’s goal is the object of their desire and what they’re trying to achieve, and can be internal or external in nature. This differs from a character’s motivation, which is the actual reason for their goal in the first place, and what drives them on. A character’s motivation is a result of the character’s life and guided by foundational beliefs, or misbeliefs — like seeking power due to an earlier loss of control.   Choosing Character Goals  As we’ve learnt, the stories that shape us do so because characters shape us — connecting us to their wants and needs, and to the authors who guide their hands. If we’re to learn and master such acts of modern magic, it’s up to us to create characters, with internal and external goals, that grow to leave readers spellbound.  
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