Tuesday, October 07, 2014

Theme-Plot Integration Part 14, Ruling a Community by Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Theme-Plot Integration
Part 14
Ruling a Community
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Parts 1-13 of this series are linked in the following Index Post:


The Supreme Court of the USA, back in June 2014, ruled that you can't patent an idea or an abstract.  That's not a new concept since PATENTS are for things.

Likewise you can't copyright a STORY IDEA which is why writers all steal from each other. 

You can't copyright a theme or a plot -- you can copyright the exact sequence of WORDS used to express that theme or plot.

Laws like these, "Intellectual Property Law" -- that say if you make something, you have the right to profit from it -- are the very foundation of modern civilization.

Ownership is an abstract idea which, when made real and concrete in our everyday lives, produces abundance.

So we have the 10 Commandments that say not to steal, and even not to ENVY -- not to "covet" your neighbor's anything. 

Today's underlying theme behind all the political fracas is simply about ownership, profit and envy.

Many have noted that as this conversation about say, "children are the responsibility of the community" and "parents shouldn't have a say in the local school curriculum content" -- and sex education in schools, and everything that goes with that -- has become louder, envy and covetousness has become louder.

Your idea of the cause of that coincidence, and about how important that connection is (if it exists at all) is a THEME that you can plot into a novel.

Remember, the core theme of all Romance Novels is "Love Conquers All" and the most powerful such novels challenge that statement, making the author prove it's truth is a plausible truth.

The most potent fiction-themes reside between the cracks in our culture.

The cracks are the connection points -- and like cracks in a sidewalk mark two "slabs" being joined to make a smooth surface.

That is why one can look at the world and say THIS is not connected to THAT -- and be correct.

And that is why one can look at the world and say THIS is directly connected to THAT -- and be correct.

These are two "correct" thematic statement forms that come into conflict and Conflict Is The Essence Of Story.

Finding a clean, clear, short, way to state the nature of a connection between two observed processes or states of being is the Art of Theme.

If you look at Astrology -- my posts on Astrology Just For Writers are indexed here:


In astrology, you have the "Natal Chart" which is a pie-chart representation of the Zodiac at birth.

That is 12 sections (Houses), just like cutting a pie, so the very structure of HUMAN PERSONALITY is graphically represented by opposites.

The interpretation for the first 3 Houses is all about the SELF.  Opposite those are 3 Houses that are all about OTHER.

The trick to RULING A COMMUNITY is to understand the relationship between 1st House and 7th House.

Ordinarily (if you know some Astrology) you'd think "Ruling" is all about 10th House or maybe Leo (the Natural 5th House). 

But if you look deeper into human personality, and thus into what kind of governing Groups of Humans can endure, you see that the sticking point that all nations and governments come apart on is INDIVIDUAL vs GROUP. 

Group can be Man & Wife, or Spouses, and it can be Parents+Children, or tribe or country, or just a Country Club.

1st House defines the Self.  7th House defines the one-to-one Relationships, but in some forms of Astrology 7th House represents also The Public.

What does it take to be a RULER of a Community? 

Well, first, the only times Ruling ever works historically, you see that the Ruler was a member of the Community (not an outsider -- that always fails dramatically which makes good story fodder).

So in effect, a Ruler from a Community is subconsciously imposing his own personal values on the community, but he got those values by growing up inside the community, so though "ruling" implies "imposition" what he's imposing was there already.

Think of it as singing on key in a choir and the Ruler just steps out and does a Solo.  Has to be a solo from the same song everyone is singing behind him.  The Ruler's values have to harmonize with those of the Ruled -- or the Community fragments.

So Humanity has been on a millennia long search for the operational relationship between Self and Other.

Just look at the divorce rate -- that's trying to get two people who don't "harmonize" into the same house.  We can't even do that reliably on purpose! 

Communities are built from the building-block of families.

A community can stand to have a few raucous families included, but the strength of the community is inside the harmony of the Family components.

If the Family is regarded as Self - then the community is Other.

If the Community is Self (say members of a particular Church or Rotary Club), then Other is the State or the whole Nation.

Like those Russian dolls, one inside the other -- we build from components.  Legos.

So the biggest, most story-fraught, issue or problem of today is simply, "What is the most workable Relationship between Self and Other?"

How do we form communities?  What should a well-formed Community look like?

Should we make up an Ideal form of community and hammer and smash all these individual Lego blocks into a shape that fits?

Or should we choose individual Lego blocks that already go together easily, and separate off the others? 

No matter how big the Community (all Earth; 400 planet Union of the Galaxy), it is formed on a theory about the most workable relationship between Self and Other -- between 1st House and 7th House.

If the theory is wrong, the Community will disintegrate -- and it will disintegrate because of the error. 

Disintegrating communities (the headlines abound in examples) make wondrous story-locales, especially for Romance because the disintegrating infrastructure of the couple's life gives them something to overcome that every reader can easily grasp.

So how do you construct a satisfying ENDING to a story about Ruling a disintegrating community?

The HEA ending requires you, the writer, to solve the problem all humanity hasn't made a dent in for thousands of years.  But as a science fiction Romance writer, you can extrapolate, suggest or fantasize a workable community shape to place before your couple.  The ending doesn't have to depict that end-result existing -- just show the road to it and the hope of getting there.

So where do you find clues about what your readers might accept as a workable community?

You look into the cracks.  You look between elements.

Here is a place to start. 


The Torah portion of Korach recounts how G-d told Moshe and Aharon: “Separate yourselves from the midst of this community and I will destroy them in an instant.” Moshe and Aharon responded: “G-d, L-rd of all spirits, if one man [Korach] sins, shall you direct Your wrath at the entire community?”1

Rashi explains that the phrase “L-rd of all spirits” refers to G-d’s omniscience. Moshe and Aharon therefore added these words to their rejoinder for, as Rashi says, they were in effect saying: “Unto You is revealed all thoughts; You know who is the sinner. If one man alone has sinned, shall You direct Your wrath at the entire community?”

G-d responded: “You have spoken well. I know, and shall make known, who has sinned and who has not.”
--------END QUOTE----

The story of Korach who gathered a group from among the nascent community and presented grievances to the leadership, and because of the content of what was bugging them, G-d responded with a judgement upon the entire community.

Moshe and Aharon argued (you can argue with Authority), and they won (you can win arguments with Authority). 

From that story, one might conclude that the way teachers discipline classes of students by punishing the whole class for one who talks or texts or sounds off at the teacher, is WRONG. 

The individual children in a class must be treated as individuals. 

Or From that story one might conclude that all members of a group have to be treated the same because any variation at all is unfair and unequal.  Individuality is a major sin. One must conform to the Group rules that are made up by the Ruler.

Create a character who believes one of those conclusions and another character who believes the other conclusion -- but the two are in perfect Harmony on everything else (sex included).  The attraction is intense, but so is the disagreement.

Now set out to convince one or the other that he or she concluded incorrectly. 

Just write the OUTLINE of a novel like that.  Then write another outline using different parameters -- all focused on the different conclusions possible from that little commentary of Rashi on "if one man sins, shall You direct Your wrath at the entire community?" 

How (science fiction, Paranormal fantasy) can you Rule or govern a gaggle of individualists none of whom will deign to conform to preferences of another? 

Invent an Alien Species that can indeed function that way, and face them off against humans.

I dealt with parts of that problem in

There is ever so much more to say, and Alien Species out there in the galaxy are a tool writers can leverage to great advantage -- they give you both theme and plot in one neat bundle.  For an example, think about Spock and Logic.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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