Wednesday, November 2, 2011

VP4W 9 The Kingdom in Chaos

The Virgin's Promise for Writers

One of the things that sets us apart, as a species, is our ability to recognize patterns--or, more to the point, our ability to detect patterns and variations. We instantly notice when something, or someone, is out of line.

Stepping out of line is precisely what the Virgin did in the previous beat, Gives Up What Kept Her Stuck. Now, what had been a private struggle becomes public as others in the her Dependent World notice and react to the Virgin's choice. That's why this phase is the Kingdom in Chaos.

As Kim Hudson* explains:
"A ripple effect takes place as the Virgin begins to change and the result is chaos in the kingdom. The world becomes uncomfortable. What was an isolated craziness as the Virgin juggled her two worlds, now affects many people. The old sense of order begins to crumble."
Whether the Virgin's actions are the direct cause or only a catalyst for simmering tensions that existed in the kingdom before she was Caught Shining, the forces of order and stability react--and sometimes overreact--in an effort to bring the Virgin back in to line.

If conflict is the narrative fuel, this is the point where the story's afterburners kick in. While there are ample opportunities for external conflict, complete with violence and physical coercion, the realization of the fears she discovered in No Longer Fits Her World, and the attendant burden of guilt, throws the Virgin into an internal conflict that is as bad or worse than the external situation.

Writers can face a kingdom in chaos at a number of levels. Perhaps breaking out of your writer's block, or a revision letter from an editor, leave your manuscript in chaos. Perhaps an unbreakable stream of rejections leaves your plan to work toward publication (and your dreams) in chaos. Perhaps life intrudes and leaves your writing in chaos.

When it seems as though the universe is conspiring against you, the fears you can never banish will rear up and confront you with your own inadequacy: you're a fraud, you know it, and it would be best for everyone if you gave up this writing nonsense and went back to where you were safe and comfortable.

It's not pretty and it's not fun, but these are the emotional depths you must plumb in order to capture the dramatic crux of the struggle to realize the Virgin's Promise.

* Kim Hudson, The Virgin's Promise

Image: Simon Howden /

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