Understanding Character Motives

Is a martyr a guardian? Is a martyr altruistic? That is a hard question without an easy answer if we rely on Patriarchal Storytelling alone. Storyselling blurs the lines so much that we forget we can use another lens to focus and orient our thinking.

Matriarchal storytelling is about gathering grains. We can build a Castle of Sorites, looking for the one grain that will tell us what we need to know with precision. We can focus on the one grain that can tip the scales and that we know the true content of a character's being.

We can compare two characters and then weigh them. Often there is a grain of difference between a hero and a villain, but it is the one grain that counts the most.

In a traditional storytelling style, the contrasts are stark, but even though differences are subtle in the Matriarchal style, it takes only a single grain to reveal a universe of difference.

I explored the concept of what is a guardian in Dr. Verity Lake's Journey of a Thousand Revelations. Verity protects people, but she does not see herself as a guardian. What she does is guide as she shows the way. People are saved thanks to her lone intervention, but she is a guide and there is nothing wrong with it. She knows what direction to go and then does it.

Eugenia Voight protects innocents as a Detective, but while she is closer to being a guardian, she is an advocate for those good souls who are perilously close to being murdered. She rescues those in need. She finds clues and confronts the wicked. She has many traits of a guardian, and at times requires to guard, but she is foremost a sleuth, finding clues to get the job done.

Alena Love, on the other hand, is a guardian. She senses danger before it arrives and acts decisively. When she was a teenager, she could feel her father's plans to marry off his two teenage daughters to older wealthy men to maintain his lavish lifestyle, and she immediately grabs her younger sister and flees their mansion, never to look back. She rescues another teenager and the three begin their own journey that ultimately creates the small city-state of Queen's Heights.

She takes enormous risks and guides out in front, standing up to tyrants at her own peril. By the time she is grandmother to a grown Verity in the *Journey of a Thousand Revelations *, her work is done, but she still continues to give wisdom to the town under the birch tree in front of her home, reminding the town that is the very spot she decreed would be the castle of peace and the garden of paradise.

Yet another character has many similar traits as Alena: someone who can sense danger long before others and does all he can to protect others from trouble, yet it is not the gentle who are the benefactors of this protection. While Alena brings her own well-being into her equations, the other sacrifices one trait and virtue after another until it takes a shocking turn.

While both may see themselves as guardians, one is a martyr: always serving as sentry, but wallowing in self-pity, looking to shame and guilt others for personal gain. The methods are sketchy at best and the results alter the lives of many.

Because we can focus on multiple characters in the Matriarchal style, we can take a closer look at the meanings of roles. What is a guardian? What is a martyr? What is sacrifice? What is compromise? What is altruism?

Often we expect a long laundry list of differences, but there may be only a single grain of difference -- but it is *that* tiny grain that makes a universe of difference, revealing the true motives that separate one from the other.

In the Patriarchal style, it is not possible to delve into those kinds of debates. In the Matriarchal style, it can be the fodder for the entire story.

We can explore how those with a guardian fare in comparison to those who have a martyr to those who have neither. In the *Journey of a Thousand Revelations*, one of the characters who is aware and benevolent becomes humbled when she realizes that sometimes it is the luck of the draw that determines the fates of others. One group had one grain more than the other, yet the results show just how crucial one grain of difference can be.

We can explore complex philosophical issues. We can use multiple lenses and look at different angles. The Matriarchal story allows an author to lay out the grains so that readers can weigh them and begin to feel the answers as they allow their emotions to explore each path before weaving those paths together to find the truth.