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The Influence Of King Arthur

the influence of king arthur john truby quote

 

More from John Truby:

King Arthur is not just a man and not just a king. He is the modern centaur, the metal horseman. As such, he is the first superman, the Man of Steel, the male taken to the extreme. He is the ultimate embodiment of warrior culture. He represents courage, strength, right action, and establishing justice through combat in front of others. Ironically, as masculinity taken to the extreme, he lives by a code of chivalry that places woman high on a pedestal of absolute purity. This turns the entire female gender into a symbol, divided into the Christian binary opposites of Madonna and whore.

King Arthur also symbolizes the modern leader in conflict. He creates a perfect community in Camelot, based on purity of character, only to lose it when his wife falls in love with his finest and purest knight. The conflict between duty and love is one of the great moral oppositions in storytelling, and King Arthur embodies it as well as any character ever has.

Arthur’s ally is Merlin, the mentor-magician par excellence. He is a throwback character to the pre-Christian worldview of magic, so he represents knowledge of the deeper forces of nature. He is the ultimate craftsman-artist of nature and human nature, and of human nature as an outgrowth of nature. His spells and advice always begin with a deep understanding of the needs and cravings of the unique person before him.

… If you want to use King Arthur symbols, be sure to twist their meaning so they become original to your story.

SEE ALSO

List of works based on King Arthurian Legends

King Arthur at TV Tropes

The Centrality of the Adventure Story, a quote from Marjery Hourihan

The Warm House Of Childhood Stories

How I Live Now Sitting Room

Sitting room from the film adaptation of How I Live Now by Meg Rosoff

Of all the stories you loved in childhood, which of the houses would you most like to live in? Was it, by chance, a ‘bustling’ environment? Was it quirky or intriguing or very large?

John Truby writes about the warm, bustling house in his book The Anatomy Of Story:

The warm house in storytelling is big (though usually not a mansion), with enough rooms, corners and cubbyholes for each inhabitant’s uniqueness to thrive. Notice that the warm house has within it two additional opposing elements: the safety and coziness of the shell and the diversity that is only possible within the large.

Writers often intensity the warmth of the big, diverse house by using the technique known as the “buzzing household”. This is the Pieter Brueghel technique (especially in paintings like The Hunters In The Snow and Winter Landscape with a Bird Trap) applied to the house.

In the buzzing household, all the different individuals of an extended family are busy in their own pocket of activity. Individuals and small groups may combine for a special moment and then go on their merry way. This is the perfect community at the level of the household. Each person is both an individual and a part of a nurturing family, and even when everyone is in different parts of the house, the audience can sense a gentle spirit that connects them.

Mary Poppins Banisters

Mary Poppins

Truby continues, happening to put into words why children’s books are so often enjoyed by adults even after we are long since grown:

Part of the power of the warm house is that it appeals to the audience’s sense of their own childhood, either real or imagined. Everyone’s house was big and cozy when they were young, and if they soon discovered that they lived in a hovel, they can still look at the big, warm house and see what they wished their childhood had been. That’s why the warm house is so often used in connection with memory stories, like Jean Shepherd’s Christmas Story, and why American storytellers so often use ramshackle Victorian places, with their many snug gables and corners from a bygone era.

The Importance Of Narrative Arts

Jack will act in ways which recognise, and are sensitive to, Jill’s interests, only if he is able to grasp how things are for Jill, and understands why they matter to her; and, further, recognises that things being that way for Jill makes a claim on some of his own attitudes and behaviour.

Any Jack’s gaining access to Jill’s perspective on life thus demands a degree of sympathy. But when Jill’s interests and aims lie outside the normal range of Jack’s own experience, his ability to sympathise with Jill’s concerns enough to be considerate about them in relevant ways, will require him to see beyond his own usual range. Most people can learn about the needs and interests of others by extrapolating from their own experience and from their observation of people around them, but if these were the only resources for insight, the scope of an individual’s sympathies would be limited. And this is where the narrative arts come in. Exposure to the narrative arts overcomes that limitation: it enormously widens an attentive individual’s perceptions of human experience, and enables him — vicariously, or as a fly-on-the-wall witness — to see into lives, conditions and experiences which he might never encounter in practice. This extension and education of the sympathies is therefore the basis for a richer moral experience and a more refined capacity for moral response.

– A.C. Grayling, The Reason Of Things

Grayling goes on to explain that educating moral sensibility through education ‘has a general tendency, not a universal effect, and works by heightening morally relevant insight in at leat many cases, in not all of which will the insight necessarily conduce to the good (after all, the sadist has to have insight into his victim’s circumstances in order to dow hat he does; so mere possession of the insight is also not a guarantee of such goods as kindness and consideration).’

(What’s a sadist? Psychopaths vs. Sadists from Time)

Different Types of Endings in Children’s Literature

resolution-denouement

 

 

RESOLUTION does not imply any solution to conflict.

Resolution is just the bit of the story that comes after the climax.

A character’s part in the resolution allows for plenty of characterization — we can still learn a lot.

***

DENOUEMENT is a special kind of ending.

The fate of the character is known.

Initial order is restored.

Denouement is closure. Closure can imply either empowerment or dis-empowerment for the main character.

There are two types of closure.

***

1. STRUCTURAL CLOSURE is a satisfactory round-up of plot.

2. PSYCHOLOGICAL CLOSURE brings the main character’s personal conflicts into balance. For characterization, this type of closure is normally more interesting.

In kidlit, these two types of closure normally coincide.

***

Many people associate kidlit with happy endings, but in contemporary works, there is not always a happy ending. Instead, we may see an APERTURE.

An aperture is a new opening, indicating further possibility for character development.

An aperture plot allows for many possible endings.

Readers might expect a sequel from such an ending, but this sort of ending would in fact be ruined by a sequel since readers are robbed of the chance to envision an ending for themselves.

Aperture has become very common in modern children’s literature. Some even say that it is now banal.

To counteract the banality, some modern stories now return to a happy ending, but with an ironic undertone.

 

The Rhetoric of Character In Children’s Literature by Maria Nikolajeva

 

***

  • If you are writing a plot-driven genre story make sure all your major themes/plot elements are introduced in the first third, which you can call the introduction.
  • Develop your themes and characters in your second third, the development.
  • Resolve your themes, mysteries and so on in the final third, the resolution.

– Michael Moorcock

the bunker diary kevin brooks cover

We love heroes and heroines from Peter ­Rabbit to Harry Potter because we know that no matter how bad things get, they will return stronger and happier through what they’ve learnt, and that their experiences will enable them to restore justice. Every work of fiction that we take to our hearts, up to and including Jane EyreThe Odyssey or Pride and Prejudice, follows this template. A great work of tragic fiction brings about catharsis, but on the whole, we need the consolations of children’s fiction far more.

Not every classic has what you might call a conventional happy ending: the boy in Roald Dahl’s The Witches gets turned into a mouse, and never returns; at the finale of Philip Pullman’s His Dark Materials, Will and Lyra must be parted for ever; the hero of John Boyne’s The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas chooses to die in the gas chambers with his imprisoned friend. Though all have been made into successful films, my guess is that none of these novels will continue to be read with enthusiasm by future generations because of the way they end.

Doom-laden children’s books may impress prize juries, but it’s the ones that offer hope that will be remembered: Why has the Carnegie Prize honoured a work as depressing as ‘The Bunker Diary’

 

Morals have long been the conclusion of fables and fairy tales aimed at kids. And today’s TV shows and movies are no different — they often weave lessons for the younger generation into their narratives. But do children actually absorb these messages, or do these endings just help parents feel better about the media their kids consume?

And the moral of the story is… kids don’t always understand the moral, from NPR

 

I don’t think a happy ending should be one of the requirements of a children’s book. Kids want their books to reflect reality. They know that the bully doesn’t always get his comeuppance in the end.

– Robert Cormier

The Master Plot In Children’s Fiction

master-plot

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