What are your heroine’s ethics and motivations?
Your armature is the theme, your message, that thing you are trying to say, the point you’re trying to prove, and the whole damn reason you’re bothering to craft this story to begin with.
Without this hook, this armature on which to hang your story, there isn’t much point in writing it. Because without an emotional, ethical framework, you won’t care about having written it, and nobody will care about reading it.
Armature is ethics, and the framework on which you hang your story, whether it’s a lived story or a told story, determines whether that story enables patriarchy, violence, and oppression…or subverts them.
- Here’s the Beyond the Bechdel Test work that I mentioned in the video.
- And here’s a FREE PDF download of Brian McDonald’s book, Invisible Ink, which will teach you everything you need to know about armature, at least as it relates to traditional storycraft.
One could assert that the hero’s armature is a colonizer’s armature.
“I’m going to go out and I’m going to get this thing and it’s for me and I’m going to prove that I’m worthy,”
versus a non-colonizing armature:
“I’m curious about this thing and I’m not going to hurt anybody, but I want to learn and explore, and I won’t let anybody stop me from trying.”
To me, the Heroine’s Journey is all about sovereignty.
It’s about being the protagonist of your own story, and using your brilliant mind to solve problems for yourself and others. You don’t need to win, and you surely don’t need to slay anything. You’d rather grow, thrive, and learn.
And to succeed on the heroine’s journey, don’t need to drink from any poison cup nor eschew any side of yourself. All you have to do is believe that your journey matters, and that your story is worth telling.
It’s not about “masculine and feminine” so much as it’s about following your passion, doing what you want, what you deeply feel is your destiny, and trusting yourself that these core desires and instincts of yours, combined with your unique creative offers, will lead to good things for the world.
And yes, perhaps this is the stuff of privilege. Or maybe, just maybe, when we step into everything that we deeply and truly desire and are capable of, the golden door is finally revealed.
Writing Practice: test the armature of a story you plan to write, against the Flores Test
Caveat: if for some reason the Flores Test doesn’t work for you, that’s fine! You can create your own checklist as well. The point here is to create a litmus by which we can measure our work, in order to make sure we don’t subconsciously or accidentally write something that keeps perpetuating business as usual.
Either way, see if you can find at least three stories, in film, television, or modern literature, that are similar to the story you want to tell. It’s ok if you can’t find anything that matches perfectly–go with whatever comes closest to having what you think could be a similar armature to yours.
Then, measure those stories using the Flores Test below (or develop your own set of criteria)
- How does it measure up?
- What ethics do the armatures of these stories communicate?
- Do you have ideas for how you will communicate your own ethics, through your own armature?
You can also try applying the test to a handful of your favorite stories. See how uncommon it is that an armature in stories about women deviate from stereotypical chick-flick themes?
What did you discover from this exercise?