I am called Kel, son of Markel. I am... was the captain of the guard for the chief judge of the tribes of Shum. I am banished from the land and barely escaped alive for refusing allegiance to the new governor. He is a murderer and a fraud. I serve only Truth and Justice. On the day when I return for my mother and sister, who are imprisoned for my sake, I swear upon by my life that the brother of my father shall meet his just reward in the eternities.
Well, well. A self-righteous idealist. "I serve only Truth and Justice." How did you rise up to captain of the guard without being pulled down or having your ideals compromised?
And what's so good about "Truth and Justice" anyhow? When has it done you any good?
And what's this about your mother and sister. Imprisoned for "your sake." Mom and sis weren't in trouble for being related to dad? You're not in trouble for being related to dad? How come?
Are you really worried about them? Would their martydom for "Truth and Justice" be really all that bad? Or would you feel more righteous for that sacrifice?
And this governorship. Is it an inherited position? If so, doesn't that mean you should be governor? Which means that taking down your uncle isn't all about ideals about Truth and Justice. You want power, too, just like your old man, don't you?
Would you sacrifice what's left of your family for Truth? Would you give up all your inherited power for Justice? Or is there something as important as your ideals?
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You would mock my oath to serve the laws of liberty and the government of our free people?
But alas, perhaps you speak some truth. I was ambitious with a desire to excel, and took pride in my skills as a soldier, but I do not seek for power. I am of high birth, it is true, but my heart does not pleasure in it. However, perhaps it is the success and pride of my people that has brought upon us such calamity.
Many of our people no longer value their freedom nor the justness of our law, but not all. There are those who seek for power and to get gain, and not by the labor of their own hands. Still, a great many believe as I do and must now work in secret to restore our government. But I am too well known and cannot enter the city.
Some among my own kin were leaders in this movement. By his own hand did my uncle betray and murder our Chief Judge. He was appointed Governor by those who support him to rule in place of our Judge. He has retained all rights to rule, removed all the lower judges. He has abandoned our laws and seeks only to honor himself. He does not seek to serve the people but only himself.
It is because I refused him and fought against him, that I was taken and my family also. I was to be put to death and my family sold as slaves for my rebellion, but I escaped and so they suffer until I submit myself and forfeit my life.
I will not submit to the demands of a tyrant, nor will I let my family suffer.
The last guy I remember serving Truth and Justice also served The American Way...but of late he's dropped that...
You are sure of your facts, aren't you? Did the new governor committ fraud and murder? If so, who? And what's it to you? How did he stack up against the old governor?
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I hate to mention this, Kel, but while you say you won't submit to the demands of a tyrant and let your family suffer, currently you're doing both.
So tell me, why is truth and justice so important to you? I mean, look around. No one else gives a damn. The gods for sure don't care; they're blithely letting all this happen, and they won't lift a finger to stop it. So why does it matter to you so much? You think you're going to be praised for it or something? You think they'll sing songs about you? Most likely, you'll die in the desert, alone, forgotten, with only the flies to mark your demise. Or reviled as a criminal as you are now, hung like a thief or a rapist, buried in an unmarked spot.
Is all this really worth the suffering to your mother and sister? The person who bore you, fed you, held you when you were scared, whose eyes lit up when you walked into the room. The one you played with, comforted when she was sad, defended when others picked on her. Will you make them suffer for "Truth and Justice?" For something that no one else in the whole forsaken kingdom, or even the gods, really gives a rat's behind about?
Why must you continue to mock my pain and sacrifice? I tried to save my sister and mother as I fled, but they were already taken. I was forced to flee with no weapon or supplies. My unlce has many men at his command. Everyone loyal to the Chief Judge has been slain or scattered. My soul is swallowed up in sadness, yet my heart burns for vengeance.
As for the gods, I know not whether there even be a god. My people follow the traditions of our fathers, but as for me, I have seen little but sorrow and pain all my life. If there is a god, you are right that he has little concern for me. I would like to believe, but I have little faith in such things.
Our new governor, you ask? We never before had a governor; only judges chosen by the will of the people. My uncle calls himself governor to appease the minds of the people, but he is really a tyrant king. My father also sought for such positions of honor and power while he lived, but my uncle achieved what he could not.
Both my father and uncle have despised me from my youth. But I have always believed in the liberty of my people and have striven to uphold it even against my own blood.
Pity for my mother and sister had stayed my hand, but it was a mistake to allow such conspiring, forked-tongue serpents with all their flattery to continue unmolested. All this is contrary to the ways and tradition of my people. I should have done more to uphold my oath.
As an aside, what do you think of Kel's style of language and conversation? I was aiming for a foreign/ancient language feel (accent) and a culture that is more formal in it's dialogue. Did it work? Would you enjoy reading a novel with this style ingrained throughout? Anything too "over the top" or cheesy? Or any pointers in general would be helpful.
Kel, where and when do you live, do these events take place?
Who are you? Your crises define you to a degree; however, your troubles, though specific, are generic. Leadership change, loss of status, loss of liberty, rebellion, consequences for family, self-imposed exile, sworn Old Testament retribution, these events are as old and everyday as the accounts of the Old Testament, which too lack for context's who, when, where and texture's what, why, and how. Maybe more people would read and appreciate scriptures if they weren't as much summary and were more scene.
Dad said over my last visit with him on his eightieth birthday "We become politically outspoken when politics personally impact our lives." Wisdom of the ages!
Developing identity, both narrator and character, is a balance of crisis stimulations and responses and frailties and strengths: traits, behaviors, and personality. The personal description so far is one-sided and, hence, one-dimensional. Little details are more meaningful from developing intimacy than sweeping scope. Underplaying the problems in favor of developing the context and texture of character and setting makes for a more compelling city forum oratio.
For example, let's say the traveling trunk you carry on your back contains your burn kit, the items you need to survive in isolation from your support network. In it are clothing, tools, weapons, shelter, maybe long shelf-life food and drink, etc. Normal and expectable burn kit items. What's surprising that reveals more about your unique identity than what most anyone would have? Not survival items. Mementos, incidental items, knick-knacks, junk that serves no immediate purpose but hoarded against exigent circumstances: a hammer head sans handle, for example. Maybe an unspooling roll of red carnival tickets, a pair of pince-nez eyeglasses with ear loops and missing a lens, the other lens cracked, a candy mold, a silk carnation, a steely ball bearing, a porcelain figurine, a handful of molies minus bolts, a turnbuckle, a flour sieve, a pinking shears, a bottle of scouring paste.
Instead of a chest you carry, perhaps the burn kit is a bag in the trunk of your car or a storage locker in the bed of your pickup truck, or a panier on your bicycle, saddle bags for a horse or motorcycle. Maybe the chest is on a cart or carriage. These details develop character as well as setting's time, place, and situation, as well as dramatic complication. Who, when, where, what, why, and how.
Those are context features for developing identity, the things we carry that help us hold onto our center when times are too interesting and trying and we feel isolated from society, and that others know us by, though they want us to be as they want to see us.
What about texture's whats, whys, and hows? Those are features of dramatic complication, as well as context features. Personal and specific whats, like what do you personally want? You want your family safe, the usurper brought down, you restored to normal routine: generic, impersonal, predictable. What do you personally want that's unique and surprising? That defines you as different yet the same as the rest of your culture? Like say you want a homestead orchard where you can grow artichokes, avacadoes, and tangerines. You were deprived of them as a child maybe, a why. Then why and how are you going to satisfy it?
Texture is also other whats, whys, and hows. Essentially, any question anyone might raise about your existence, like what's your problem with your culture's apathy? Mistaking indifference for apathy misunderstands that the mass of people want nothing much more than to be left alone to persue their private lives in peace. Why do you believe you need to wake them up from their sleep-walking existence? How? Are you going to do that by starting a civil war?
In terms of your formal speaking and narrating register, orality is a persuasion method that expresses inspirational thoughts. Rhetorical figures of speech underly orality. For example, a tricolon: three parallel, structurally identical clauses. Casear's "vini vide vici" is a regular tricolon, conventionally translated to "I came; I saw; I conquered," which is a loose tricolon. For a regular tricolon it would be "I came; I saw; I won," which doesn't have the impact of the conventional translation, from lacking the amplification feature of the word "conquered": a rhetorical scheme of repetition, substitution, and amplification. Note that those latter three terms are also a sort of tricolon. Triplets are a common and artful part of orality. As Aristotle said, "What I tell you three times is true." Or mine: Once might be coincidence; it takes two to tango; three is a riot. In other words, look to other rhetorical figures for artfully enhancing your speech's persuasive influences.
Do you speak formally because of your social status, your educational background, or because you emulate a station you wish to be part of? Note that context and texture are also essential there: who, when, where, what, why, and how. The how is implied by the formal register. Are you a warrior-scholar? Many ranking soldiers are. If so, from whom where, when, how, what, and why did you pick up your diction and register?
Exhaust these context and texture questions' answers: who, when, where, what, why, and how. As an audience of your woes, if I'm not satisfied by how you address them, I'll walk past your stepping-stone oration in the city forums, resistant to your declamation from hearing nothing but whining, albeit noble, self-sacrificing whining.
Thanks extrinsic, but after reading through it at least five times, my brain has overheated and shut down to avoid a complete and catastrophic meltdown. When it reboots ill try again.
In the meantime can someone give an example of how "who, what, when, where, why, how" helps them write or how a well known work exemplifies context and texture in that way so I can see how its done?
I've tried several exercises experimenting with those questions for the last few hours and only end up with one of those young adult ad-lib sheets. Or a classic CLUE statement of events.
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A young adult ad-lib sheet is a strong starting place, probably mostly summary and part explanation. Now put plot bones on it and flesh it out into scenes.
Align context and texture questions' answers with a dramatic complication. What is the want and problem wanting satisfaction? Who has the complication when and where? Why does the complication matter? How does it matter to whom, when, where?
Read any published work, not just prose, but also journalism, argumentation, research and report, inquiry, and distinguish the context and texture development. The opening line of most any work will begin portraying those question answers.
Let's take the opening of Charles Dickens' A Tale of Two Cities. Due to the novel's copyright expiration, we can use it for demonstration liberally, although its traditional lecturing narrator voice is not fashionable today.
quote:It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair,
we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way— in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.
There were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a plain face, on the throne of England; there were a king with a large jaw and a queen with a fair face, on the throne of France. In both countries it was clearer than crystal to the lords of the State preserves of loaves and fishes, that things in general were settled for ever.
It was the year of Our Lord one thousand seven hundred and seventy-five. Spiritual revelations were conceded to England at that favoured period, as at this. Mrs. Southcott had recently attained her five-and-twentieth blessed birthday, of whom a prophetic private in the Life Guards had heralded the sublime appearance by announcing that arrangements were made for the swallowing up of London and Westminster. Even the Cock-lane ghost had been laid only a round dozen of years, after rapping out its messages, as the spirits of this very year last past (supernaturally deficient in originality) rapped out theirs. Mere messages in the earthly order of events had lately come to the English Crown and People, from a congress of British subjects in America: which, strange to relate, have proved more important to the human race than any communications yet received through any of the chickens of the Cock-lane brood.
Kel, no offense, but the style of talking gets a bit boring after a few sentences. A bit "snobbish," as it were.
Now, truth and justice? I commend you on your ideals and conviction. How do you serve them, though?
You also seem to be very...prudish? Going on about doing the right thing because you swear on your life you shall have vengeance. Do you have a darkside? A side of you that yearns for the hunt, the kill, the blood? A side that calls out for you to lay waste to all who dare oppose you? A man who never does anything wrong, always does the right thing, and is the the perfect warrior, can get a little boring.
I wanna see a dark side come out of you.
Posts: 88 | Registered: Jun 2012
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Jed: I suppose you caught 'Kel' on a depressed and pensive day. But you're right. He is angry and vengeful. Has anger management issues that I need to figure out how to show. I've spent the last 15 years trying to weed that part of me out and am a pretty passive, peaceful soul now. Hard to get inside that side of my character when I'm not sure how things on the dark side work anymore--it all comes out childish and silly to me, which most anger is. I'll see if he can't come back with some meanness showing through.
A question about the Character Interviews forum: Is it not appropriate to place the character at a certain time and place in his/her story where the information, setting, emotion, etc. would all be specific to that limited scope of time and place? It seems sometimes that some interviewers expect more than a chance conversation or exchange during the events of one day in the life of the character. Once I get the character situated in my chosen time and setting within the story, it would be difficult for him to answer differently than he does given the circumstances, or to be omniscient or omnipresent over the whole span of the story line. Or should the character not be tied too tightly to the plot line and just answer as he would at any point or time depending on the interviewer and questions posed.
Just curious if there are specific instructions on the way to handle it in this forum that I missed somewhere.
Oh, and I'm ruing the "truth and justice" part.
I get it.
This was also meant to be a static 'snapshot' of Kel--not a dynamic view as noted above. So forgive the one-note symphony.
He is a principled man (or tries to be). A bit of a hard-nosed ideologue with compassion and sorrow for suffering, and contempt or hatred for dishonesty, disloyalty, what he deems as injustice, etc. He often loses control with impatient and even violent outbursts. Those pretentious values are not so unique to him--in my imaginary world even the criminals and evil-doers follow a code of 'honor' (at least a facade) and take their words and oaths seriously. Just like (as it's been portrayed to me) people used to talk and worry about honor and one's word back in the day. I don't see much concern for those things today, but I didn't know it was so much a thing of the past that it is inaccessible to readers today. In the course of events, he discovers that he is a hypocrite on many levels, and that many of his most prized virtues were really well-masked vices.
Extrinsic, after a lot of contemplation, I'm starting to understand what you mean about context and texture and the value of what you mean by the who, where, when, what, why, how, questions in my writing. Thanks for the patience. I'm learning a lot.
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You're welcome. Appreciating context and texture principles goes a long way toward building a working foundation for developing other writing principles.
Some writing principles come to everyone in the snap of a finger; many writing principles take time to fully grasp, some take years. And what one writer develops in an eye blink might take another years.
Though legally, full adulthood in the U.S. begins at age eighteen, intellectual and emotional ripening don't fully emerge before age twenty-five. The second seven years of adulthood apprenticeship known as early or new adult follows the first seven years of middle grader into young adult. During the age of indentured servitude, these two age divisions were a term span basis of the apprenticeship and journeyman portions of a tradesman's stages learning to master a trade. They were not arbritrary terms, rather they developed as a custom with actual bases upon physical, emotional, and intellectual growth.
There is no coincidence today in the education age divisions of preschool, primary school, middle school, high school, undergraduate, graduate, doctorate, and post doctorate, though some rare few are able at least to manage the intellectual demands at younger ages and others are not able to keep up the pace.
Remember, though, that other societies have divvied up adulthood and childhood differently than the west. In a bar mitzvah one says, at age thirteen, "Today, I am a man." And that's the way it was handled---adulthood came at age thirteen.
(It's not quite "full adulthood" at eighteen in the USA---one can't drink alcohol until one is twenty-one.)
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