Saturday, February 22, 2014

The Triangular Theory of Love

You've heard of love triangles, but have you heard of the Triangular Theory of Love?

Last week I was scrolling through Facebook and my eye caught sight of a nifty little info-graphic on relationships. It follows what's known as the Triangular Theory of Love and was developed by psychologist, Robert Sternberg.
According to the theory, intimacy, commitment and passion on the three elements of a relationship. Different combinations of the three elements can result in a variety of bonds between people.

The Three Elements:
Intimacy: Feelings of attachment, closeness, connectedness, and bondedness
Passion: Encompasses drives connected to bother limerence and attraction
Commitment: In the short term, the decision to remain with one another, and in long term, plans made with that person.

The Triangular Theory of Love
When I first looked at this triangle, I thought it only applied to boyfriend/girlfriend relationships. You know, dating and marriage and such. Turns out, after a little more research on the theory, I was wrong. Friendships and casual relationships are in here too. After some reading on this theory, I was able to break down the relationships that the triangle covers into what I'm calling The Big Seven.

Let's start with the no element relationship. This is know as Non-love. Quite simply, it's a relationship without any of the three elements. Non-love is more common than you think. All of our daily, casual interactions fall under this category.

Then there are one element relationships.

The first relationship in this category is Liking which is just intimacy alone. This is like our classic friendship. You feel attached or close to someone but don't have that element of passion or long term commitment.

Next there's Empty Love. This is when a relationship has commitment but no intimacy or passion. Some relationships fall into this while others begin here–an arranged marriage for example (but definitely not always).
In my science fiction story, Crec, I can classify the relationship a group of allies has as empty love. They make a commitment to each other to protect and support each other but there's not element of intimacy or passion.

Fourth of the seven: Infatuation, another term for a solely passion based relationship. By definition, infatuation is intense but short-lived. Usually romantic relationships start this way but not always. If intimacy or commitment are not added into the equation however, this passion will disappear.

Two element relationships are stronger than one element relationships simply because there are more elements added to the mix.

Intimacy plus commitment equals Companionate Love. This love is stronger than friendship because there is a long term commitment involved. It applies to family members and close friends in which the relationship is platonic and strong.

Fatuous Love is the combination of commitment and passion. This is usually when a commitment is made based on passion. It can be described as "a whirlwind of courtship and marriage". Think Romeo and Juliet.

Romantic Love comes from the intimate and passionate components of love. Romantic lovers are attracted both physically and emotionally to one another but without sustaining commitment.

The strongest of all bonds is the lone three element relationship, Consummate Love.
This is what's described as the perfect relationship because it's passionate, intimate, and committed long term. These couples can't imagine themselves with anyone else...ever, and can get through difficulties with ease.
However, this type of love is hard to keep up if there's no expression.

The Big Seven are pretty black and white. It's one of the first things I caught while studying it. In a way though, the black and whiteness helps me understand the difference between the types of relationships and gives me categories to put my characters into.

What do you think of the Triangular Theory of Love? If you write, where do your characters fit in? Do you know any characters from any of your favourite books that fit into any of these characters? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, February 09, 2014

Archetypes: A Hero's Journey Part 2

Read the first entry here: Archetypes: A Hero's Journey Part 1 

Last time I wrote for the writing dimension, I discussed what the term 'archetypes' really means and I went through the first five of eleven journeys the hero of a story can take.

Archetypes can be applied to almost anything in stories; images, symbols, characters, plot patterns, ideas and even themes.

FUN FACT: Did you know that it's been proven that archetypes also show up in the dreams we have? Both daydreams and dreams that have while we're asleep.
This goes to show just how cool the psychology behind archetypes is.

Today, I'm gonna finish covering the types of journeys a hero can take. If you haven't read the first five, I have a link at the top of the post you can follow.

6. The journey in search of knowledge.
This can be used in mystery novels. Think about it: the character is trying to figure out who murdered the lady down the street, who set the bank on fire and so on. They’re trying to gain insight or knowledge in order to solve the mystery.  
Emma Roberts as Nancy Drew
Also, someone could be trying to remember something. In The Last Thing I Remember, the main character wakes up in a room at the beginning of the book not knowing anything about himself. Throughout the whole story, he tries to figure out why two different parties are after him, why he's a wanted criminal and why he can’t remember anything including his name. When you have a case like this, identity quests can sometimes be involved. 
The character could also be going out to get physical documents or files. In Elysium Max makes a deal with Spider in which he will retrieve certain documents in exchange for a trip up to Elysium where the life saving machine is. In this case, the documents aren't his only concern but they become a primary focus. 
ex. Nancy Drew series, The Last Thing I Remember, Elysium

7. The tragic quest
For this quest, the character is trying to make things right again either with themselves emotionally or with someone else no matter how hard it is and whether or not they have to suffer. 
These stories are typically quite heartbreaking. Usually they have tragic endings and the character is just in rough shape emotionally and/or physically the whole time. Things for the main character are just generally terrible. Nothing seems to be going their way and yet they press on. 
An exception for the tragic ending thing is The Patriot. Overall, it's a really sad story but the main character lives on tell the tale so to speak. While there's a lot of death throughout the movie, it was more of a 'bittersweet' ending. 
ex. The Machinist, Road to Perdition, The Patriot

Jim Carey and Jeff Daniels
in Dumb and Dumber

8. The fool’s errand.

Another way of saying this is that a simple-minded person saves the land or the princess just because of their own unawareness to their foolishness. 
I find this one particularly fun. You get those books where the character is just so quirky you have to love them. There can be a lot of humour in this quest.
An example of this is Shrek. Not necessarily Shrek himself but Donkey. Donkey saves Shrek's butt in the castle by sweet talking a dragon. I don't know about you but sweet talking a dragon is a dumb idea to me! Of course, Donkey didn't see this and ended up buying Shrek some time and indirectly saving the princess. 
ex. Shrek, Dumb and Dumber

9. The quest to rid the land of danger.

I love this one because you can show just how small your character is compared to the huge task of ridding an entire land of danger. This quest ties in pretty well with number four so if you have this one, you probably also have that one. Not always, but often. 
Bilbo in The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug
In Mockingjay, the purpose of the rebellion is not only to get revenge (hey, another quest!) on the Capitol but also to make the districts feel safe without the games. Therefore, they’re ridding the land of the danger of the games. 
This archetype could be anything from the eradication of a dictatorship to the slaying of a dragon. The great thing with this archetype is that the climax has the potential to have an epic battle in the end. 
ex. The Bronze Bow, Mockingjay, The Hobbit

10. The grail quest (the quest for human perfection).

Let’s face it, no one will ever be perfect. But hey, it would make a good story if someone tried right? This is a really good inner battle that the character can have, especially if they’re under the impression that they can't make any mistakes or are already perfect. 
The hero doesn't necessarily have to go in search of full out perfection. Maybe they're looking to be the best at something, or to live eternally. Maybe they're just part of a journey that takes a step towards making them a better person. 
Is the movie A Thousand Words, Jack, a literary agent, really doesn't know when to keep his mouth shut. He goes through his own type of a grail quest. Not in the sense where he becomes perfect but he improves who he is as a person. 
These quests can also include spiritual nourishment
ex. A Thousand Words, Evan Almighty. 

11. The question for fame and fortune.

Ever read one of those stories where a girl in high school really wants to be popular and noticed for once in her life? Or what about the athlete who is working his but off to make it big time in the Olympics? How about searching for treasure? Absolutely! I've read some great stories where the main character is looking for some sort of jackpot. 
Cal (left) and Boges (right) in the
TV adaptation of Conspiracy: 365
Personally, I think that the stories that do this best are the ones in which the character's motives aren't necessarily surrounding getting rich or famous. Maybe they're trying to save a family member like in the movie, Catch That Kid. Or maybe their dad left a mysterious note behind before he died, promising that he found their family's inheritance like in the Australian book series, Conspiracy: 365.
Usually in this archetype, the antagonists are after the exact same thing the protagonists are, they just have their own motives. 
ex. Catch That Kid, Conspiracy: 365, National Treasure 

So now that all the journeys have been covered, which one does your own novel or your favourite one fall under? Let me know in the comments below!

Sunday, February 02, 2014

Archetypes: A Hero's Journey Part 1

Only last year, I discovered something that blew my mind. If you haven’t guessed already from the title, that thing is archetypes. Maybe you're thinking that I should have known this before I turned sixteen. But before I was sixteen, I didn't care enough to go out searching for this type of information. 

The term 'archetype' was placed on literature by Carl Jung who recognized that there are universal patterns in all stories regardless of culture or time period. He guessed that every human mind thought in a similar way when creating stories. 

So he’s basically saying that even if you never read a book in your life and decided to write one, certain elements (archetypes) would show up in your novel that are similar to many others. Mind blown yet? No? Maybe this will do it: as I got further into reading about archetypes, I pinpointed more than several patterns that I'm using in my science fiction novel. I never even knew about archetypes until I was a good 30K words into my story! 
The thing with archetypes is that they happen whether you want them to or not. It's kinda cool, really. 

FUN FACT: George Lucas wrote the Star Wars saga based off of archetypes.

So you may start reading these archetypes and say, “But Cassia, that’s a cliche isn’t it?”

No, actually it’s not. Archetypes are pretty broad. Even if some may be more common than others, there’s definite ways to manipulate them to make them your own. For example, an archetypal setting is the end of the world. How many books have you read or heard of that are set in a post apocalyptic society? Lots, right? Most authors seem to be able make their setting unique, right? There’s everything from zombies taking over the planet (Warm Bodies) to infections destroying the human race (The Maze Runner) to people being forced to kill each other for national entertainment (The Hunger Games). So really, archetypes aren’t as much a cliche as they are a pattern. Make sense?
Great, let’s move on to the fun stuff!

Today I will be discussing the journeys that a character can travel.

There are 11 types of journeys that a character can go on, archetypally speaking of course. I'm going to cover the first five in this post. As you read this, if you’re a writer, think of what category your work fits under and if you’re just a reader, think of your favourite book and try to pinpoint the journey that the hero/heroine goes on.

Some of my examples are movies, not books but they still are a story. 

1. The quest for identity.

Jason Bourne in the Bourne Identity Movie

This is an extremely popular quest used. Even if it’s not the main journey that the character goes on, it’s usually a side journey. I think the reason why it’s so popular is because it’s so relatable. In life, everyone wants to discover who they are, what makes them, them. This journey makes a character seems real. My list of examples could go on forever but I decided to shorten it to two.
ex. The Bourne IdentityDivergent

2. The epic journey to find the Promised Land or to build a good/beautiful city.

In the Wizard of Oz, Dorothy needs to find the Emerald City in order to make it back home. Her journey revolves around getting to this ‘promised land’ so that she can get back to Aunt Em. You could even argue that The Hobbit falls under this archetype. While the Dwarves already know where their land is, it's not good and beautiful anymore. They need to rebuild it. But first, they need to rid the mountain of danger; that's another archetype in part two.
ex. The Wizard of Oz, Animal Farm
A screenshot from The Count of Monte Cristo movie

3. The quest to get revenge.

I personally think that this quest has so much depth and many possibilities. There’s a million reasons why someone would want revenge on another person and even more ways that they could go about getting revenge. Authors can show so much of their character this way. It's a tricky one though especially since it can become cookie cutter. The examples I chose are very unique compared to other revenge stories I've read.
ex. The Count of Monte Cristo, Code Geass

4. The warrior’s quest to save the people.

I personally love this one...a lot. In fact I love it so much that my current WIP, Crec, follows this quest. One of my favorite science fiction novels has this quest embedding in it. I Am Number Four and the books that follow it, tracks a group of aliens (Loric) who look human and come to earth after their planet was destroyed. Another alien race (Mogadorians) have also come to earth with plans to destroy it and inhabit it. The Loric are the only ones who can stop them from wiping out the human race but they don’t want to let the people of earth know they exist. A challenge nonetheless. To make things even more difficult, the Mogadorians want to get rid of them so that they can take over the planet. You can see the problems and battles that this would create.
A lot of superhero movies follow this journey as well. Usually they aren't trying to save themselves, they're trying to save the city which is under the control of the villain. 
ex. I Am Number Four, The Dark Knight Rises

Romeo and Juliet as portrayed in
the 1996 film adaptation
5. The search for love. 
This can also include rescuing the princess or damsel in distress. Romance writers, this is probably gonna be your main character’s primary journey. The main character here can either be looking for love in a way where they go out looking for the one or it they can just feel unloved and try to find someone, anyone who will accept them. It doesn't necessarily have to be romantic love that they're looking for. 
ex. The Vow, Romeo and Juliet

So there you have it. The first five out of eleven archetypes.

If you're writing, does your character's quest fall under any of these? If you don't write, how about your favorite book that you're reading?