Ninja Writer Academy is a weekly series. Every Saturday morning, I post a lesson here. You can do the work, then come share it on our Facebook group. I’ll be on Facebook on Sunday for Office Hours so we can discuss the lesson, or anything else writing related. If you’d like to join the Academy and get an email on Saturday with a link to the lesson, plus notification when Office Hours start, Click Here.
The Clan Assignment
Some relationships are pretty easy to understand.
We all know what a mother is, for instance. Sure a mother/child relationship might be complicated, but if you write that a woman is your character’s mother, you’re not going to have to explain what that means to your reader. We all have mothers and we all know what a mother is.
But, what if your main character has someone in their life who is mother-like? Their best friend’s mother, their foster mother, the lady who runs the corner store and made sure they had enough to eat when they were growing up, their older step-sister who raised them from baby-hood when their dad and her mom abandoned them…the possibilities go on and on.
Someday we might talk about blood family, but today I want to talk about the family that your MC builds for themselves. Their clan. Their tribe. They might have the beginnings of the family they create for themselves in their ordinary world–maybe a best friend or two, for instance, or a teacher/mentor character. Chances are good that as their story advances (especially into Act II) they’ll build those relationships. Their tribe will take shape or expand or both.
So, today, I’d like you think about those clan characters. The ones who aren’t the focus of this story, but who play an important part to your MC. These are their allies, the people they have to learn to trust if they’re going to survive their ordeal.
My work in progress is a Robin Hood retelling, so I have an obvious clan direction to take. My MC, Rob, starts the story by rebuilding a relationship with his best friend, who hasn’t seen in a while. Mattie is my Maid Marion character. He’ll also have to develop relationships with the outlaws who will become his Merry Men.
Rob starts the story by returning home from boarding school after learning that his father, his only living parent, has died. He’s cut completely adrift, with no blood family now. This causes him to cling tighter to his relationship with Mattie and her father and leaves him in a position to fall into the clan he winds up building later.
Here’s your homework this weekend, Ninja!
Are you in this week? Leave a comment here and let me know. Ninja Writers are ALL about the big A word: Accountability. Post here that you’re going to be part of the Academy this week, then do it, Ninja.
Make some notes about your MC’s clan. If they don’t have a clan, think about that. Why not? Would giving them at least one person to build that family-tight relationship with add something to your story?
Come by Facebook and tell us about your MC’s clan. I’ll be there tomorrow (Sunday) at noon PST for office hours so you can ask any questions you might have.
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If you haven’t joined the Academy yet, you can click here to do that. It’s totally free–when you sign up, I’ll send you a link every week to the Academy post and an invitation to my Sunday office hours.
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