Thursday, August 01, 2013

Writing Tropes and Archetypal Characters: The Chosen One

Writing Tropes and Archetypal Characters: The Chosen One

Almost every great myth or story involves a hero who has been chosen in some way for the adventure. It is a trope that is practically hardwired into storytellers. Some heroes are ordinary people called upon to perform extraordinary feats. In Moore, Oklahoma, there are many of these heroes. Teachers stayed with their little charges and protected them with their own bodies. Neighbors clawed through the wreckage without thinking of their own welfare to save lives. First responders travelled from all over the United States to perform their every day job, which is not ordinary to most of us. A terrible event brought out the heroic in everyone in that town.

Other heroes are born to the call. In many instances, they or their guardians do not know they are special. They may live and work in lowly occupations, cleaning stables, working as servants, or tending sheep. In these stories, there are often signs and symbols that indicate their greatness, usually overlooked by their families. Often it is a prophet or seer who has a vision and knows the child is the Chosen One.  If you'll recall the story of King David, he was the youngest of the children in his family. While Saul was still king, the Prophet Samuel was told the future king of Israel would be found in a certain family. When Samuel met with the family, and seven of the sons, the father, Jesse, told him all the male children were present. David, out tending sheep on the hillside, was not even considered significant enough to be called in for this visit from an important man. Samuel knew none of the men present were the next king, and asked if there were other children. Scoffing, Jesse said, "Well, there is our shepherd boy." 

The Chosen One theme also arises when times are bad or leaders are failing. Continuing the above story, King Saul was not doing very well. He had nightmares and appeared to be under attack from demons. Only the songs and lyrics from David's harp, which he had practiced everyday on the hillsides with the sheep, soothed the tormented King Saul. To make matters worse, the Philistines were attacking Saul and his people on a regular basis, making daily life unbearable. The worst of these enemies was a giant covered in body armor named Goliath. All of Saul's men, including three of David's brothers, ran when they saw this terrifying creature. Only David held his ground and, using the sling and a rock just as he had protected his sheep from wolves, he slew Goliath. Saul should have been thrilled. Instead, he realized David was gaining popularity. Even his daughter, Michal, fell in love with the young upstart. Saul knew David was the Chosen One and grew angry, fearful, and vengeful. Saul went from being a good king to one who ran David out of the county, consulted witches, conjured up spirits, and searched for ways to rid himself of David.  Saul turned into a villain and died on a field of battle at his own hands. I'm sure you know the rest of the tale. The shepherd poet became the poet King. From David's line came many more great heroes, heroines, and Chosen One Stories.

As a reader and as a writer, I love the idea of the Chosen One. Coming from a humble background, I can relate to the dream of overcoming obstacles and vanquishing villains.  Each story using this trope can have its own twist, restrained only by the writer's imagination. So, tell me, which story (or stories) using the Chosen One trope do you have on your list of favorites? 
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Sharon Buchbinder

Publisher: The Wild Rose Press

Page Count: 288 
Word Count: 71392 

ISBN : 978-1-61217-867-7


Book Description:

A year after a barbaric childbirth, complete with a near-death experience and an encounter with her guardian angel, Angie Edmonds is just happy she and her son, Jake, are alive.

She's finally in a good place: clean, sober, and employed as a defense attorney.

But at the end of a long work day, she finds herself in a parent's worst nightmare: Jake has been kidnapped and taken across the Mexican border by a cult leader who believes the child is the "Chosen One."Stymied by the US and Mexican legal systems, Angie is forced to ask the head of a Mexican crime syndicate for help.

Much to her chagrin, she must work with Alejandro Torres, a dangerously attractive criminal and the drug lord's right-hand man.

Little does she know Alejandro is an undercover federal agent, equally terrified of blowing his cover--and falling in love with her.

“Who are you? Who is that giant? What did you say to him?”
The pony-tailed man flashed a grin, the smile reaching his sky-blue colored eyes, giving him an appealing boyish look. “The big guy’s name is Tio. I told Tio to truss Raul up like the pig he is and to bring him to Isabel Ramirez. She’ll know exactly what to do with him.”
“Who are you?”
The movie-star-handsome man stopped, bent down until he was eye-to-eye with Angie.
“I found your passport tossed onto Raul’s desk, Angela Edmonds from the U.S. of A. I like that name. You look like an angel.”
She shook her head and the street twirled. “I’m no angel.” She steadied herself on his well muscled, naked arm. Rather than creeping her out, the skin on skin contact with her rescuer reassured her that he was a real human and not an angel conjured up in fevered religious delusion and desperation. “You sound like an American. You haven’t answered my question. What’s your name?”
“Torres.” Still holding her ID, he strode to the driver’s side of the car, hopped in and flashed a dazzling grin. “You could call me your hero because I’m taking you to see the woman who can help you find your son. My name is Alejandro Espinosa Santoyo Torres. But most people just call me Alejandro.”

About the Author Sharon Buchbinder

I’ve been writing fiction since I was in high school and have the rejection slips to prove it.

After I graduated with a BA in Psychology and no job, I realized my dreams of working in the attic writing great prose would have to take a back seat to the simple pleasures of eating, drinking, and having a roof over my head.

Fast forward a few decades, and I had a career path that would make all but the kindest say, “What were you thinking?” After working in health care delivery for years, I became a researcher, then an academic. I had it all– a terrific, supportive husband, an amazing son, and a wonderful job. But that itch to write (some call it obsession), kept beckoning me to “come on back” to writing fiction. I spent one whole month away doing nothing but writing fiction, the first of many drafts of my first novel.

My genres include horror, mystery, romance and weird blends of the three. For a sampling of my work (fiction and nonfiction), click on “Stories and Links“.

When not attempting to make students and colleagues laugh, I can be found herding cats and dogs, golfing, deep sea fishing, or writing.