M is for Moving Along with Motifs — And More | #AtoZChallenge

Motif

“A theme or pattern that recurs in a work.”

I was already a writer for about a decade when I ran into the first writing help I ever received in the days of pre-Internet. My age was 12. I was in junior high. (If you do the math, that means I was a writer since my earliest memories, beginning at about age 2. I started writing out poems, songs, and stories at age 6 to 7.)

Since I cannot find the six points of the Journey Motif listed anywhere online, I suspect my teacher may have adapted the Hero’s Journey. By the time I received this nugget of gold, I realized I had already created a story that followed this motif, since in those days I crafted stories in adventure and sci-fi genres (many involving doorways to other places or a form of time travel: think Star Trek and Land of the Lost, the original series), which were never completed because I lacked adequate knowledge and experience to write what I needed.

The six points our class received for the Journey Motif

  1. Hero of mysterious birth. (This simply means no information was given on the origins and bloodline of the protagonist.)
  2. Hero goes on a journey in quest of something.
  3. Hero is made to suffer on this journey.
  4. Hero passes through a wasteland devoid of life.
  5. Hero discovers something about himself or others.
  6. Hero is reborn.

This motif came in association with the Theme of Literature

  1. Loss of identity
  2. Self-discovery
  3. Rebirth

Finally, our class also learned about the Vegetation Motif, where a story aligns with and follows the changes of the seasons and what they imply.

  • Spring: birth
  • Summer: life
  • Fall: preparation for death
  • Winter: death

These can be physical or metaphorical.

BEYOND THE PRECIPICE follows the vegetation motif, with preparation for death and death (physical and metaphorical) occurring throughout fall and into winter, Bret’s darkest day falling on winter solstice, and a promise of new beginnings synchronizing with spring. The story also follows the theme of literature.

Robert Frost’s poetry followed these motifs

  • the cycle of the seasons
  • the alternation of day and knight
  • natural phenomena
  • rural images

(Source: Motifs in Frost’s Poetry, American Literature, Robert Frost, by SlideShare.)

Hero’s Journey Motif

DRUYAN, my fantasy adventure novel coming in fall 2017, follows the journey motif and hero’s journey.

Story within a story motif

More M Monikers

Metonymy

A figure of speech in which a word is replaces something that is associated with it.

Example: Crown in place of a royal person.

(Source: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com)

One thing (an object or place) is used to represent a larger, more abstract concept.

Example: The “press” often refers to journalists (who used printing presses in the past), not the press (machine) itself.

Synecdoche: A subclass of metonymy where a whole represents a part (“Edmonton” represents the Oilers hockey team), a part represents a whole (“wheels” represent a car), or the material used to make an object represents the whole object (“plastic” represents a credit card).

(Source: Journal #6 Topic: Metonymy vs. Synecdoche, TeacherWeb.com PDF)

Mood

“A conscious state of mind or predominant emotion.”

(Source: Glossary of Fiction Writing Terms, scribendi.com)

Music

The song Crossfire by Brandon Flowers has a recurring motif of a heroine rescuing Flowers from ninjas on three separate occasions as well as the motif of good versus evil:

And we’re caught up in the crossfire of Heaven and Hell
And we’re searchin’ for shelter.

Before I ever saw the video, I had a very different story scene in my head based on the lyrics, which carry a lot of mood and atmosphere:

Watchin’ your dress as you turn down the light
I forget all about the storm outside
Dark clouds rolled their way over town
Heartache and pain came a-pourin’ down
Like hail, sleet, and rain, yeah
They’re handin’ it out.

CROSSFIRE — Brandon Flowers

All the posts: Components of Literature A to Z

See also: Q is for Quite the Quest

About Eva Blaskovic

I am a multi-genre author of literary fiction and fantasy, and writer of non-fiction articles on parenting, writing, education, health, and travel. My background encompasses both the sciences and the arts. I teach at a specialized clinic for learning difficulties and mentor young authors. In addition to writing and teaching, my passions are weather, Indian food, gardening, and music. I have played eight musical instruments and spent many years immersed in taekwondo and karate. In my youth, I was an avid canoeist. I was born in Prague, Czech Republic, grew up in Ontario, Canada, and moved to Alberta in 1988, where I raised four children.
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10 Responses to M is for Moving Along with Motifs — And More | #AtoZChallenge

  1. I had heard of motif and this was very detailed and clear.. Thank you for sharing.. 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Pingback: Theme Reveal: Blogging from A to Z Challenge (April 2017) | Beyond the Precipice

  3. Nilanjana Bose says:

    A very comprehensive analysis. Thanks for the interesting read. Visiting from the A-Z and enjoyed being here,
    All the best,
    Nilanjana

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Q is for Quite the Quest | #AtoZChallenge | Beyond the Precipice

  5. Pingback: S is for Synecdoche | #AtoZChallenge | Beyond the Precipice

  6. Pingback: F is for Foiled Again! | #AtoZChallenge | Beyond the Precipice

  7. JJAzar says:

    Structure which follows themes and patterns as delineated above are indicative of higher literature. In English class, however much I scoffed at most books we were assigned to read, I’ve always appreciated structure and the attention paid to framing stories in one way versus another. It’s made me a more thoughtful writer and a more appreciative reader.

    Liked by 1 person

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