Happy New Year. Hoping you find many good books to read, and even more good story ideas to write.
Previous Parts of the highly abstract series on Theme-Archetype Integration are here:
This is Part 6 of this Series.
We've discussed the Bully issue in many contexts. Here are a few:
We have discussed Bullying and the Bully Character in the Romance context because this behavior is much in the news these days.
"Ripped From The Headlines" sells books - provided the headline appeared long enough ago, or the approach in the novel is unique. I pointed out two novels of International Intrigue, SAVING SOPHIE and VENGEANCE, using the setting of the Middle Eastern Conflict, a Headline Generator as powerful as North Korea, or various Russian scandals.
The problem the Web and the Internet now pose to us is highlighted best by the threat to children subjected to Bullying at school, and then every time they pick up an internet connection (phone, computer, tablet) to do homework, there is the Bully again right in the privacy of home.
And that, as you note from the telegraph.co.uk source is an International problem, maybe worse than politics.
Keep in mind that child bullies grow up to be successful business owners, and maybe progress to sexual harassment. Using the power to fire a person in order to get them to do something (well, personal), is just another school-yard-bully in action. Girls and Boys both are equally prone to bullying. So sexual harassment, or in International Politics, quid pro quo "deals" involving "favors," are adult versions of the school yard (or now Web Streaming App) bullying. Bedroom bullying is now available to kids, not just married couples.
The "Arranged Marriage" Romance novel is another form of Bullying. Forcing a couple to marry for the sake of (the Crown, Descendants, Fortune, quid-pro-quo deals among parents) anything other than their affinity for each other is Legalized Bullying.
Just because it's legal, does that make it "right?"
Can Bullying be "cured?" Is it a "flaw" in human nature or a "feature?" Answer those questions and find a Theme.
Can "The Good Guy/Gal Be A Bully?"
Is it OK to force an arranged marriage to save the human species? A country? A dynasty? A Fortune that hires thousands and provides their sustainance? How big do the stakes have to be in order to regard Bullying someone into doing something as a Righteous Use Of Power?
That is a theme -- the ends justify the means. (or not)
The Bully can be regarded as an Archetype for the purpose of constructing a Science Fiction or Paranormal Romance Novel. Like The Priest, The Warrior, The Mother, and so on, The Bully is an Idea, not a specific person, not a Character.
So you can create almost any Character, and draw down the mantle of The Bully, to create a Character readers will believe is realistic. Readers will know someone like that.
If you do that, if you impose "The Bully" Archetype on a Character, you are showing, not telling, a Theme.
THEME: Bullying Is A Removable Add-On to Personality.
If, however, you depict The Bully Character as intrinsically Evil, one who can only be stopped by killing, then you are showing not telling a different Theme.
THEME: Bullying Is Not A Behavior But Rather An Intrinsic Trait.
If Bullying can't be removed from a human person, a behavior adjustment most of us have seen, then humanity has no recourse but to make this behavior (emerging in childhood) a capital offense.
We have other examples in human behavior that we have not found "cures" for, such as pediphilia, or serial rapists. There is an organized movement to make pediphelia legal. That, too, is another Theme.
THEME: no human behavior should be illegal.
That is the sort of topic a University Debate Team might tackle.
Could your Main Character fall in love with someone who won that debate?
So studying Themes and studying Archetypes and how these two, very abstract, elements combine to become a cornerstone of any fictional universe, can take you a long way toward outlining a novel you can write, and that you will be able to finish writing and bring to market.
"Writer's Block" is not a real "thing" -- but misconceived novels are real. Once your subconscious understands you have gone off the rails writing a confused story, you will just stop writing. This can undermine your self-esteem.
Find a Theme and the Archetypes that illustrate that theme, and you will produce a whole story or novel. It may turn out badly written, badly constructed, or with implausible Character motivations, and may or may not be something you can rewrite, but the task can be completed. That, in itself, gives you career rocket fuel.
So, if Bullying is an inherent trait that can not be altered, then it is something that Love Can Not Conquer.
How many good Romances have you read about the "Bad Boy" - we all believe the right woman can tame even the most "lost" man.
Love Conquers All is the theme of our universe.
The joy that explodes within us at discovering "Love" alters the way the universe behaves in our vicinity. The joy of love alters the odds, shifts the probabilities in our favor, and opens paths to impossible futures.
Of course, in real life, we all know of instances where it didn't work.
But we also know of many cases where "miracles happen."
A novel can start with a "co-incidence" but the conflict must not be resolved with a co-incidence. That is called Deus Ex Machina. Just SAYING that something unexpected (not foreshadowed and not logically impelled) happened and it just accidentally resolved the conflict will not give the reader the feeling of completion at the end of the novel.
You want your reader to feel the relief at the conflict being resolved, to look into the future of these Characters and "see" their happily ever after.
So you can't just have a Bully Character suddenly "see the light" and say, "I do."
The reader will "see" a future of an abusive marriage.
To pull off the "Bad Boy" transition into worthwhile keeper Husband, you have to delve into the psychology of "bad boys." The Bully is one of the Bad Boy Archetypes (there are others).
The classic cure for Bullying is to punch the bully in the nose - a remedy I have seen work very well indeed.
Bullies are very often intrinsically cowards.
Traditionally, society "cured" (or suppressed) the Bully Behavior by other strong individuals repeating insistently, "Go pick on someone your own size."
That saying meant put yourself in danger of receiving the treatment you are dispensing.
The huge percentage of bullies who are in fact cowards quickly learned to avoid bullying behavior. The rest went right on misbehaving.
Social rejection is often more feared than a punch in the nose.
Worse yet, is being rejected by potential sex partners. Thus it takes a Woman Warrior to "tame" a Bully, and not always with physical resistance, but with Character Strength. It is often noted how men change when they marry -- and later have a child. Testosterone levels famously become lower, and men become more sensible once testosterone has achieved the objective it exists for, to procreate.
So if you are writing a futuristic Romance, create the society (worldbuilding) either for or against Bullying, depending on your theme.
Societies will be "for bullying" if they value (oddly) non-violence. If violent behavior is out of bounds all the time, and for any reason, then all the non-violent people will be very non-violent, and thus marks for the bullies. Good people will not fight back.
Societies will be anti-bullying if they value Disciplined Violence -- an application of force where and when necessary, and nowhere else. In other words, where children are raised to be physically and mentally strong, self-willed, indomitable, and drilled to apply "good judgement" about when to use that strength (and when not to.)
Learning "where and when" a use of force is "necessary" can be the lessons in Love that come to the Bully from a Soul Mate.
Usually, (among humans), Bullies acquire an older man (or woman) mentor, parental figure, or role model teacher, who disciplines the Bully while getting at the source of the need to hurt others and bend them to the Bully's will.
Setting two such Societies (the pro-bully vs anti-bully civilizations) against each other can be the foundation for a long series of long novels.
Here are a couple of entries on "What's Eating Him" and "What's Eating Her."
And don't forget, The Hero Vs. The Bully