Tuesday, September 25, 2018

Theme-Character Integration Part 14 The Family Man

Theme-Character Integration
Part 14
The Family Man

Previous entries in Theme-Character Integration are indexed here:


Two long, complicated, rich and deep Urban Fantasy series which are not marketed as Paranormal Romance, but which actually showcase the seminal element of Romance (the irresistible hunk), are very popular in 2018, thus worth studying.

One is a world built by Marshall Ryan Maresca, with a wide-spread cast of characters, presented in different series set in the same huge, sprawling city.   The series is tagged Streets of Maradaine, Maradaine Constabulary, Maradaine Elite -- and I'm sure there will be more.

The other world is built by Jim Butcher, made it to TV in a brief run series, an RPG, and is so far 15 (now 16 I think) volumes about a Forensic Wizard, a classic archetype I love.  It is tagged The Dresden Files, after the lead character, Harry Dresden Wizard For Hire.

Maresca's Amazon Page:

Dresden Series: https://www.amazon.com/gp/product/B00O3HD47C/

I've discussed both these authors and their popular worlds previously:

Maradaine is featured in these posts:





Dresden Files is featured in these posts:






So you can see that when I'm enchanted by a novel series, I keep relating the contents and skills-sets exemplified in that series to each and every writing technique, every artistic vision, and every sort of thematic statement extant.

A single novel, or even a series, is not composed of just one thing, one technique, one theme.  To capture the attention of a wide and varied readership, a novel has to be composed of a wide and varied bundle of themes, showcased by ever increasing command of craftsmanship.

In other words, after selling that first novel in a series, the writer has to demonstrate increased mastery in novel 2, or novel 3 will lose the initial readership.

Both these writers have shown increasing skills over the years.

Now, I have 3 books that, taken together, reveal an odd, and nearly invisible commonality among all the books of both Fantasy series that can be a big discovery for writers of Paranormal Romance in all its forms.

Both series are about meeting up with a great-grand-marvelous HUNK-HERO, who is young and in the wild adventure, power-acquisition segment of a lifetime.  Both series go on long enough for the Hunk to grow into a Man, and then begin to grow into a Family Man.

Both series are written by men.

Both series are about magic-using Hero who dedicates the use of Power to protecting the "innocent" or less capable.

In other words, both very popular series are about anti-bullying, protecting instead of torturing, using strength to the advantage of others, not yourself.

Seeking Justice, and being willing to throw down and get dirty to make Justice happen - that is the hallmark of the Family Man.

Each series is being published in story-order, by the internal chronology of the world unfolding before your eyes, so the main character grows up right before your eyes.

Maresca's Maradaine novels are about a Family, and the inheriting of position and obligations from one's predecessors. One obligation in focus from one brother is the obligation to gain command of his magical powers and use them for the defense of his helpless mother, and the bringing to justice of those who rendered his mother helpless.  The other brother's focus is on gaining political power and position in the street gang their father used to run, and turning the gang's objective toward Peace rather than gang-warfare in the streets of Maradaine.

Jim Butcher's Spring 2018 release is Brief Cases, an anthology collecting stories set in the Dresden Files universe between the events of each of the main novels in the series with a NEW ORIGINAL never before published story of vast interest to those writing Science Fiction Romance with or without Magic.

The intensely fascinating feature of this Dresden Files anthology is the introductions done by Jim Butcher which explain the origin of the story and the way he built the world and the characters.  This is where you learn about Family.

The commentary reveals how the writer takes an angle on a Character that is designed to rivet the attention of a particular readership looking for a particular thing (in the case of the Dresden Files, the emphasis is on combat scenes involving magic).  But to make an "angle" (a camera angle on a Soul) work for any reader, the writer must know what that Character "looks like" from other angles.  "Who" is this guy?

Jim Butcher's commentary on these stories reveals a lot about the writer as intermediary between Character and Readership.

In both series we have young men growing up with complex family histories "gone wrong" and striving mightily to make a good life for themselves.

In Butcher's new anthology, Brief Cases, he adds the story (retold from 3 points of view - adding what the Characters were doing while apart that they didn't tell each other about) of Dresden taking his 9 year old daughter to the Zoo one fine day, with his "dog" (magical) which he rescued some novels ago.  Each of the three face down trials of conscience and character, and come out splendidly.

This shows us our favorite Wizard, Chicago's only professional Wizard, Harry Dresden, growing up into the role of father.

There is tragedy, action, pain, anguish, and above all Family.  How they mix defines the theme.  Each of these two series has a distinctive Theme -- and each book in the series explores one relavent sub-set theme.

If you set out to write a Romance Series -- be sure you have planned what to do for an encore.  Don't let the material run away with you.  Don't let your Characters be too invulnerable.  Gain the personal strength to command the material -- just as these Magic Users command their Powers.

Jacqueline Lichtenberg

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