Exploring Archetype, Ritual, Myth, and Story–A Weekend Novelist Workshop

© 2010 by Robert J. Ray and Jack Remick

A Weekend Workshop

Required Viewing for work here: The Natural, the movie based on Malamud’s novel. Study “The Natural” not as a baseball story but as a retelling of the Archetypal Journey. Three things to look for:

1) The Descent into the Underworld;
2) Resurrection Images;
3) Archetypal characters.

The center of gravity in a story is linked to Archetypes.

Study this passage from Erich Neumann’s Art and the Creative Unconscious.

“The archetypes of the collective unconscious are intrinsically formless psychic structures which become visible in art. The archetypes are varied by the media through which they pass – that is, their form changes according to the time, the place, and the psychological constellation of the individual in whom they are manifested. Thus, for example, the mother archetype, as a dynamic entity in the psychic substratum, always retains its identity, but it takes on different styles – different aspects or emotional color – depending on whether it is manifested in Egypt, Mexico, or Spain, or in ancient, medieval, or modern times. The paradoxical multiplicity of its eternal presence, which makes possible an infinite variety of forms of expression, is crystallized in its realization by man in time; its archetypal eternity enters into a unique synthesis with a specific historical situation.”

Start Lines: Using timed writing, set your timer, write for five minutes on each of the following:

I’m writing a story about…
(Setting) My story takes place in
The  objects, symbols, links in my story…
In a dream, my Protag (give name) descends … rises to…
The Archetypal Journey for Roy Hobbes:
First Language lesson = baseball
Warrior training
First Death = Dad dies. King Replacement subplot 1
First Bat = Wonder Boy is born
First Sex = Initiation with Iris. (Note mythic name)
First Tryout
First Ritual Combat = Strikes out Slugger
Second King Replacement = Subplot 2, Max Mercy as Trickster
Second Ritual Combat – Death Crone shoots Warrior
Descent into Under world – twelve year absence
Rebirth = Image of Warrior emerging out of darkness into light = tunnel to field.
Third Ritual Combat = war with manager “I’ll pay you but I won’t play you…”
Third King Replacement = Bump dies, Roy takes his place = Ascension.
Fourth ritual combat with One-Eyed Monster = Monster (Cyclops) Archetype
Fifth Ritual combat with Satan = Owner = Judge = Archetype corrupted
Second Sex = Memo – Temptress = Sickness = Death Crone.

Linking  subplots to the myth base and its archetypes:

Myth base for The Natural = Archetypal Journey (Dante, Gilgamesh, Orpheus, Odysseus, ET).

The ritual arc: The rebirth ritual runs from Wasteland to Garden
Full cycle = Garden (Roy Hobbe’s idyll broken when dad dies)
Wasteland = descent (gets shot, spends years in underworld)
Ritual Combat = road to redemption and resurrection
Garden (idyll reclaimed with son in golden field)

Archetypes in the Character Grid

Name Role Object Archetype Core Story Myth Base
Roy Protag Wonder Boy Wounded Hero Coming of Age Hero’s Journey
Judge Antag Windowshade Satan Scpgt Sacrifice
Memo Antag Black Dress Death Crone King Replacement
Max Antag Pencil Trickster Revenge Quest
Pop Helper Cap Father Grail Quest
Harriet Antag Pistol Death Crone King Replacement
Iris Helper White Dress Angel Queen Replacement
Gus Antag Glass Eye Monster(Cyclops) King Replacement

You have your protagonist. Now work the Antagonist:

In a dream, my Antag (give name) climbs the…
How does your story’s myth base connect to the natural myths?
Write for five minutes on each of the following:
My story is most like…
The Archetypes in my story are
Rituals in my story are…

Tracking The Natural:

Roy Hobbs on station platform waiting.
On train. In Roy’s head – Flashback
Boy in field, father says “Hit your spot”
Iris as a child watches
Father has heart attack
Thunder, lightning, rain. Lightning hits tree.
Roy makes bat, burns in Wonder boy with Lightning Bolt (note plot track on lightning)
Time lapse
At Iris’s Window.
Tryout with Cubs announcement.
First sex – Iris in white.
Time Lapse
Train stops.
Roy sees Death Crone (Harriet Bird = Vulture preying on “The Best There Is.”
Two deaths, silver bullet. Best there was…
The Whammer. Roy meets slugger, gets brushed off
Water Stop
Death Crone asks of Whammer  “Best there is?” She selects her next victim.
Ritual combat – Roy strikes out Whammer on three. “It’s your funeral” Roy says.
Death Crone turns eyes on Roy. Now the Best there is. Introduces herself.
Like Sir Lancelot jousting.
Homer wrote about heroes and gods.
What do you want? “To be the best there ever was…”
Cavernous train station.
Hotel room phone call.
Roy goes to Harriet’s room.
Will you be the best there ever was in the game?
Harriet in black veil.
She shoots him.,
Roy on floor wounded.
Harriet goes out the window.
Time Lapse Sixteen years later
Knights Field – Pop: I Should have been a farmer…
‘Snake walked into the ball part’ = Satan = Judge
Tunnel: Roy emerges into light carrying bat case.
New right fielder.
Played with Hebrew Oilers, semi pro
Draws Number 9.
Bump Bailey on stage, sets up KR 3.
Welcome to the majors.
Hotel Ellicott.
Meets Memo first time.
Dining room with Red.
Where you from? Does it matter?
(Red’s deeper wish is to get a pennant for Pop)
Ball field – Practice. Sit down Roy
Will pay his contract, won’t play him.
Rituals in threes???
One eye on stage with Memo in stands.
Roy knocks cover off the ball.
Judge on stage.
Iris in café – Roy’s in majors.
Bump Bailey dies.

Symbols in your Story

Writing: A.  What are the MOTHER symbols in your antagonist’s dreams? Your protagonist’s dreams?

B.  Character grid on  the archetypes that appear in your ANTAGONIST’S dreams.

C.  What are the archetypes informing your protagonist, antagonist, and helper?

Listing: Archetypes in fiction: Warrior, Warrior Princess, Wise Old Man, Terrible Mother…et al.

Listing: Character grid for your story:

Name               Role                 Archetype                     Flaw

What is the myth base? why do you need one? What do you do with it when you get it?

Writing: This is a story about a man/woman who…

The Story

When Orestes slaughters Clytemnestra and Aegisthus, he avenges Agamemnon’s death. Pursued by the Furies, Orestes is forgiven by Athena for his crimes.

The Myth Base
The War Hero returns to find his father dead and his mother in bed with corruption. The Hero kills the mother and new husband. He in turn dies for his crimes.

Myths and Rituals…

Ritual is the quantum physics of fiction: Character A begins the story in Condition 1. Through transformation, he/she ends the story in Condition 2. This shift from C1 to C2 is done through threshold crossing such as rites of passage, initiations, Firsts and Lasts.

When Perceval passes into Knighthood, he leaves behind his Innocence. Loss of Innocence is a transformation from Condition 1 to Condition 2. The ritual of Transformation is the act of being Dubbed a knight.

The doorway to myth is ritual .

Writing: First cut at ritual:

I am writing a story about a Warrior/WiseMan/Priest/Schoolgirl who….

Character Grid: Fill in this grid with characters in your Story:

Name              Role                Archetype       Wound                        Secret              Deeper Wish

Characters – Write the Back story on the Antagonist in your story. Use these start lines to begin your writing for each character. To find the deeper wish, dig deep into the past.

A.  When my ANTAGONIST was (age), the most terrible thing…

B.  The year my ANTAGONIST turned (age), he/she wanted more than anything…

C.  Always hungry for new experiences, my ANTAGONIST was (age) when…

  1. My ANTAGONIST dreams about…

The Myth and its transforms.

In The Manchurian Candidate, the metaphor (story) is set in the 1950s. The Father Archetype (Raymond’s father) is already dead. The StepFather Archetype has usurped the Father’s position.

Raymond’s Furies are the repressed memories of his brainwashing by the Pavlovian Evil Archetypal character.  Updating the myth (putting it into modern costume) links the reader to the deeper archetypal reality.

Writing: The variants on the myth base.

Myth Base.

Variant 1

Variant 2

Some Archetypes from Carl Jung and others:

Mother (Terrible Mother, Good Mother, Great Mother)
Rebirth (Metempsychosis, Reincarnation, Resurrection, Rebirth, Transformation)
Spirit (Imps, fairies, Tinkerbell, mythic helper)
Trickster (Fox, Raven, Wily Coyote, Felix Krull, any con-man)
Father
Child
Warrior
Shadow (teenage gangs, dark side, Darth Vader, Freddie)
Puer Aeternis (eternal youth, boy who refuses to grow up, Peter Pan)
Virgin
Whore
Prince
King
Queen
Miles Gloriosus (Latin: Glorious Soldier. Miles=soldier.)
Outsider (an emerging archetype according to some – Not the Pariah of old but someone
with tattooed arms, shaven head, purple hair – Old Motorcycle Gangs, Bloods,             Crips….)
Initiate
Wise Old Man
Crone
Bitch Goddess (version of Terrible Mother)
Sleuth
Victim
Killer

Archetype is not stereotype. Stereotype is cultural simplicity while Archetype is Core structure that can be transformed into metaphor. Core structure is related to the Spine of the story.

Re-read  this passage from Erich Neumann’s Art and the Creative Unconscious.

“The archetypes of the collective unconscious are intrinsically formless psychic structures which become visible in art. The archetypes are varied by the media through which they pass – that is, their form changes according to the time, the place, and the psychological constellation of the individual in whom they are manifested. Thus, for example, the mother archetype, as a dynamic entity in the psychic substratum, always retains its identity, but it takes on different styles – different aspects or emotional color – depending on whether it is manifested in Egypt, Mexico, or Spain, or in ancient, medieval, or modern times. The paradoxical multiplicity of its eternal presence, which makes possible an infinite variety of forms of expression, is crystallized in its realization by man in time; its archetypal eternity enters into a unique synthesis with a specific historical situation.”