Monday, July 16, 2012

Shades of Difference Matter—Elemental Ideas

When I teach the novel, Ceremony, by Leslie Marmon Silko, I usually teach about the Mother Goddess and the Hero’s Journey. Actually, it just gives me an excuse to talk about mythology, something I could do all day. Going over this, though, shows my students that every single heroic story follows the same skeletal structure (I could go on about the Hero’s Journey in more detail, but that would take up way too much room). The basics, though, involve the journey of the hero on his or her road of trials to accomplish a task, the people who show up along the way to help our hinder that journey, and more than likely a visit to some form of the underworld. If you go to Google and look it up, you’ll basically see the plot outline of every movie. Star Wars = Harry Potter = The Odyssey, etc. Obviously, differences exist, but the premise is the same. We read books and watch movies all the time, basically watching the same story (different people, places, and things).

I bring this up because I’m working on the sequel of Task Force: Gaea—Finding Balance, Memory’s Curse, and I have a character who comes close to another pre-existing character from another story: Korra, the Avatar (The Legend of Korra). Just go here to read more about Korra—it’ll be much easier. Then, come back here and continue reading. :)

I’ve been interested in the mystical side of the world ever since I fell in love with Greek myths back in junior high, so it wasn’t really a surprise that I’d create a character who has a connection to the four elements (earth, fire, air, and water). Sarah Jacobs (aka Aether) is a Wiccan who has tremendous respect and understanding of the natural world. A potter by trade, she knows how each of these elements plays a significant role on forming the pottery that she creates. Possessing a ring of ancient origin that allows her to manipulate each of these elements, she herself houses the fifth element (named aether, after the primordial entity), and it grounds her, allowing her to maintain her connection. Despite the fact that she can manipulate these elements, she cannot create them, and her connection is stronger to Earth and Air (for reasons explained in the sequel). Her character, a modern young woman, has ties to the ancient past, although she herself is mortal. In addition to that, she is one-fourth of Task Force: Gaea, and an integral member of the team.
Aside from the elemental qualities she has, Sarah is also aware of the darker, more chthonic connections she has with her teammates. Chthonic has to do with the underworld, in this case, in Greek mythology. The natural world doesn’t take sides, and its power is not to be disregarded. All of the Greek cosmos begins with Khaos, a vast and complex entity who brought other Protogenoi (pronounced proto-YEH-noy) or primordials into existence. These early gods, Ancient Ones, had little to no recognizable forms and were vast in their size. A connection among Dan, Aleta, Brandon, and Sarah is the earth and all it contains, and that includes Hades, and the even darker Tartaros. Gaea’s presence permeates Sarah, and she is not just a vessel for the power of Aether; she is a part of the earth itself.
That is the significant difference between her and Korra. So, I feel better getting that out now.
It’s bound to happen that ideas cross one another in the grand scheme of the world, and it’s important that writers find ways to use some of the same ideas, but with their own spin.


  1. "every single heroic story follows the same skeletal structure"

    No. Every story. Period. See

    1. I've seen that site (found it years ago). When I say heroic story, I mean every story, Kaye. I believe all stories are variations of a hero's journey.


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