Saturday, February 14, 2009

Thinking it Over, Family Matters

retrospect--a vision of a character, place, or situation from a later point in time; a revisit to a person, place, or situation with the implicit promise that at the very least the reader will learn something not known before, and possibly one or more characters will similarly profit.

Returning to a past event is a springboard to an emotional revelation; a character who revisits a situation will now have awareness to see what had not been visible before, to understand the implications of responses or treatment not understandable before. In such retrospect it is possible for a character to recognize lost opportunities or behavior that will cause time-released humiliation.

family--a group of characters related by blood and/or adoption, conventionally considered a mother, father, and one or more children, but easily taking grandparents into the equation or, in contemporary times, a single mother and her children, a single father and his children; a potentially diverse group involving one or both spouses having remarried, bringing step-children into the family equation; a parental pairing of a gay couple with children from a previous heterosexual marriage; a parental paring of a gay couple with adopted or artificially inseminated children.

By their very individual nature, families may be supportive, neglectful, abusive, eccentric; they supply energy through direct action or backstory that has direct influence on all who live within their borders. Families are believed by some to have procreation as their primary goal, followed by the raising of young to the point of their own independence. This view is dramatic in itself since there are substantial numbers who see the function of family as entirely different.

Family gatherings, whether to celebrate holidays, indulge such rituals as funerals, weddings, and anniversaries, are frequent sources of story, suggesting that plots are not necessary; there is already ample story within every family.


Ed Maskevich said...

With the definition of family being provided in today's "cultural wars" your thoughts are a welcome respite. There is also the "family" that is not related by blood or marriage but by sharing common beliefs, ideals, hopes, goals, ad nauseum.

Querulous Squirrel said...

Let's not forget cults and polygamous families. I once wrote a story centered around a family gathering that also had a central traumatic event that I thought of as the crisis point of a plot. My writing teacher hated it. She hated everything I wrote. Now that you mention this, I'm going back to read it and see if it's salvageable. I loved it until she ravaged it. It's one of the few stories about a family that had nothing to do with my own family. Do you know how hard that is for some people? Like me?