Tuesday, June 20, 2017

Depiction Part 30 - Depicting Royalty

Part 30
Depicting Royalty 
Jacqueline Lichtenberg

Previous parts in the Depiction series can be found listed here:


Neuroscience and social science has been intensively studying human behavior for decades, but new tools are bringing to light many ways in which humans behave in the aggregate -- and as individuals.

Any rule you can verify by observation will have a percentage ( 5% to maybe 15%) of humans who just don't follow that rule -- or who maybe sometimes do follow the rule, but then other times not so much.

During a lifetime, we change.

We looked at a research article about how people are different as they become older -- fundamental personality and attitudes differ.  Character traits such as reliability can change drastically with age.


So as you grow and mature as a writer, so too your audience (and editors) grow and change.  What matters to you changes.

But how do you change?  From what to what?  In what direction?  And why is it that there's always an exception to every rule?

Here's another bit of research that may give you a clue to what makes the difference between "the masses" or "the peasants" and "royalty" or "the rulers."


This article says only a small percentage of people alter their "first impressions" according to new hard-fact data, while most humans form opinions to "blend in" with their friends, associates or Group identity.

We seek "validation" from others (social interactions) above truth.  Being socially acceptable is a better survival trait than being correct, or so many humans seem to assume.  That assumption seems to be a survival trait.

So, because people care more about what opinion others have than about what is real, it is easy to "control" what some call "the masses."

That small percentage of people who incorporate new facts and change their attitudes to match reality may be the natural rulers of humankind -- or perhaps the mavericks who will explore and settle the stars?

The natural "royalty" -- the Kings, Dukes and Princes of so many Romance novels, -- will be drawn from the few who revise their understanding of reality based on new facts, not based on their first impressions.

It is said you get only one chance to make a first impression.

Maybe that's not true with Royalty - with natural rulers.  The kind of human (rare though that kind is) that reassesses everything they think they know, and their whole inventory of assumptions based on new facts ought to be the ones to watch.

As a novel Character, such a person would be the Hero, or the Main Character -- the most admired by some, but dreaded by others.

These rare individuals are the disruptors, the explorers, the innovators, and the agents of change.  They don't go along to get along.

In many ways, such Royalty might well be regarded as asocial, or even sociopathic because they form opinions independently.  They don't accept an opinion formed by another person and make it their own.  They question and investigate upon what this other person bases that opinion -- then they try to reproduce the data the other used to form the opinion.

In other words, they not only accept new facts -- they seek them out.

The experiments cited in the article
are based on a trick played on the experimental subject.

As usual in these experiments, the big hole in the scientific procedures is that the subjects are all drawn from college students who are volunteers.  That does not represent any kind of random cross section of humanity.

And lying to those volunteer students is also common in psychological experiments.

In this experiment, as described in that article, the point was to get the subjects to believe the lie -- then tell them it was a lie and see if they changed their minds about what was really going on.  Only a very few changed their minds based on the fact that they had been lied to.

The article ends off pointing out how the current political news relates to this ignoring of facts in favor of one's first impression.  That leap may be faulty, but a good Romance writer can make you believe it.  A good science fiction writer can plot a story that will destroy the experimenter's credibility.  Put the two together -- and see if Love Conquers All.

Are the individuals who change their minds based on facts actually Royalty, actually better "rulers" or better decision makers in terms of the survival of the society?  Or are these stubborn radicals the sand in the gears of society that reduces the changes the society will survive?

What would it take to "change" (as with age) one of those who accept the opinions of others as their own into someone who thinks for himself?  That is a science fiction premise -- how can you depict such a massive shift in the basic nature of a Character in such a way that readers will believe it?

What if a Character who does not think for himself is kidnapped by a UFO, and returns as someone who thinks for himself?  What would that do to the marriage he was in before being kidnapped?  Would the wife think that the man who returned was not actually her husband but an impostor?

In science fiction, traditionally, the lead character, the Hero, thinks for himself and never just goes along with the crowd.  In Romance, it isn't always that way -- but very often to embrace the Happily Ever After a couple must depart from tradition.

How can you make your reader believe such a drastic personality change?  How can you get a reader to root for the marriage that was so fundamentally disrupted by a UFO kidnapping?  Was it really a UFO kidnapping?  Or was it something else?  Mystery genre will give you some clues as to how to handle depicting massive personality change.

These two genres, science fiction and romance, belong together, and when you add Mystery -- you get Classics.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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