So far weíve talked about emotional patterns and thought patterns of Heroes and men in general. Hopefully youíve begun to understand just how the male mind works in order to create better heroes.
Now Iíd like to spend some time on the emotional cycles and stages of grief for men and women. Letís see how they differ.
I know from Morgan Hawkeís teaching and her website that she believes in use of the Stages of Grief as a plotting/character tool and after having been doing things her way for the last several years, Iíve come to realize that although itís not the only way to write/create characters, for me, itís the best one.
The Five Stages of Grief are:
Denial : The initial stage: "It can't be happening."
Anger : "Why ME? It's not fair?!" (either referring to God, oneself, or anybody perceived, rightly or wrongly, as "responsible")
Bargaining : "Just let me live to see my son graduate."
Depression : "I'm so sad, why bother with anything?"
Acceptance : "It's going to be OK
We know from research that everyone experiencs these stages but not neccesarily in that order or for any set length. Sometimes stages are skipped and others are are returned to frequently. But for our stories, we donít have as much time as humanly posible to let our characters experience the full range of emotions due to page length, movement in the story and other factors. So we must find a way to push our stubborn heroes through each stage as we do our heroines. And we should keep it in order as well so itíll make sence to the reader. Thatís not to say we HAVE to keep the order, but your work willprobably read faster and keep the mental picture for your readers that way.
Usually she balances him with some trait. Remember when I said she tends to be emotional while heís motive oriented? Thereís that balance thing again.
When I talk about getting inside the characterís head, I usually have my own methods for trying to feel what the characters feel. Usually a little alcohol to lower inhibitions and still let me write, and then music that sets the mood. Since Iíve been focusing more on my Heroes in this seminar AND in my latest works, Iíve been listening to a lot of heavy, dark music with lyrics that help set the mood.
The trouble for me begins when I want to come out of that mood, ďIĒ can, but my heroes have trouble and get stuck. Thatís where I look at my plot outline and realize that something major needs to happen. Our heroes and heroines move on major actions. Nobody ever says ďDamn Iíve just gotta do dishes todayĒ and goes through any grief or heavy emotions while looking at that task. But when our heroine is captured, wounded, hurt, or doing something our heroes consider dangerous, stupid or substitue action here, our heroes react!
Now when we talk about emotional cycles, thatís a bit tougher subject. Weíve learned that both men and women go through monthly emotional cycles, according to our biorythms. And essentially itís the same cycle, but again how things are processsed is where the difference lies.
The key here is going to be how pain is processed. Since the trigger for our Heroes is going to be pain, that should be our focus. Studies have shown that women are more responsive to pain and will often speak up first but without knowing what the stimuli was, I could not guess whether the studies were accurate or if social engineering (ie women cook, men work stereotype) is in play.
Cultural conditioning will play a big role here. If a man is in pain, the stereotypical response is for him to remain strong and silent. If the womanís in pain, sheís bitchy and complains about it constantly. Why is that so?
I believe itís because of some crap I just read on a BBC news article dealing with the 78 differences between men and women . ďWomen know instinctively what is dangerous or not recommended for babies in their care. Men, generally speaking, do not.Ē
Sian Lindsey, Netherlands
Now if you take that out of context of itís ridiculousness and apply what weíve learned here about instinct (I did cover instinct, right?) then we can see how this all works. Btw, the article is meant as lighthearted fun. Give it a good read, eh?
Since I donít think I covered instinct yet, here we go! I believe women are taught from the start of life to never ignore instincts. If something feels bad, it probably is. And weíre allowed by our peers to feel that way and not have to justify it.
Men however are not taught that from the start. Itís a lesson many men have to learn either through training or other methods. Why? Why the difference in such a key part of functioning?
I'm open to your answers beforesharing my own and the rest of this lesson. On your mark, get set, go!