By Pamela Jaye Smith
[Based on Pamela's book, INNER DRIVES: Create Characters Using the 8 Centers of Motivation (chakras) published by Michael Wiese Prods and available at the Writers Store.]
Want to create characters that last forever?
Learn to use the same character-building tools used by myth-makers and story-tellers throughout the ages.
Want your characters to be understood around the world?
Use the global system of character analysis and creation that’s based on how we really are – physically, psychologically, and philosophically. Since every person has the same system, everyone will intuitively recognize your characters if you align them with this system.
One of your biggest challenges is to create characters that sound, look, and act differently one from the other. Learn to use the Inner Drives to create unique, dynamic, believable characters.
The Inner Drives chakra system is a rich resource for character development, character arcs, and building ensembles. Chakras are actual bundles of nerves in our spinal column that control the endocrine glands which release hormones, which affect our feelings and actions – and sometimes vice versa.
Learn to use these Inner Drives and you too can tap into the power of myth for characters in any genre or style. My article in the Writers Store ezine gives an overview of the chakra system and its relevance to media.
In this column we explore the Sacral Chakra, home of Sex, Fear, and Money.
Why does Stanley Kowalski bellow "Stellaaaaaaaa!" in Streetcar Named Desire?
Why did wife-beater undershirts become a sex symbol? Anyone who’s ever been swept away by love, lust, or infatuation knows why: anyone exuding such concentrated, smoldering desire is both seductive and a little scary...which can also be seductive. It’s the moths-to-flame thing: the fires of passion draw in the lone individual from the cold of personal exile with the promise of intimacy and intensity.
Every character in Streetcar Named Desire is on a Sacral focus, from the sensual predator Stanley to the passion-besotted Stella, to the fluttering over-the-hill over-sexed Blanche. Their conflicts are all tied up with money, sex, jealousy and fear. It’s a real Sacral Center romp.
MOTIVATION – Sex, Fear, Money
- sensuality, eroticism
- jealousy, infidelity
- prostitution, alimony
- embezzlement, insurance, advertising [Adverts makes you afraid you won’t get laid, then sells you something that’ll supposedly guarantee that you will get laid: fear, money, promise of sex.]
LOCATION, GLANDS & HORMONES
Six inches below the navel. Testes and ovaries. Testosterone, progesterone, estrogen, oxytocin (the bonding chemical).
Hormones can swing you towards machismo, ultra-femininity, homosexuality, bisexuality, and all the shades and permutations one can imagine.
The pull of physical attraction against common sense or in the face of great danger makes dramatic stories - Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, Damage, The Story of O.
The maternal instinct, cued by oxytocin.
Many religions use seasonal festivals to ensure fertility, such as Beltane on May 1st with its symbolism of the maypole and the twining ribbons resembling the phallus and spiral DNA.
Societies and religions often Suppress (full coverage) or Splatter (near naked) sacral energy; both defuse the individual’s creative power and allows them to be controlled by others.
Poltergeists are typically caused by a repressed Sacral Chakra that has all this creative force surging through it with nowhere to go. Doors start opening and closing, drawers fly about, and wild things happen, like in Carrie. Doing a scary story? Include a sexually repressed teenager.
Some think of Aphrodite/Venus the goddess of love when they think of the Sacral Chakra. Actually though, it is her son Eros/Cupid who represents this Chakra. As we’ll see later, Aphrodite is more about transformative love and Eros is about frivolous, sensual, Sacral “erotic” love. It’s about obsession and possession.
LOVE GODS & GODDESSES — in the Hindu system Krishna and Lakshmi. In the Greco-Roman Eros/Cupid.
DON JUANS & NYMPHOMANIACS
INCUBUS & SUCCUBUS — Sexually demonic creatures who favor sexually repressed people, particularly those sworn to chastity.
PIMPS, PROSTITUTES, PANDERERS, PERVERTS & PAEDOPHILES
BOW & ARROW — Because of their obvious similarities to the sexual organs.
HALF-HUMAN HALF-ANIMAL — Centaur, faun, and satyr are known for pro-creative powers and/or virility.
SEX ORGANS — Lingam and yoni of Hindu iconography, sex-sells advertisements, Georgia O’Keefe flower paintings.
PLANET & ASTROLOGICAL SIGN
JUPITER — (aka Zeus) has scores of children by many different goddesses and mortals. The planet of good fortune and material wealth or negatively, greed.
SCORPIO — The sign of sex, secretive dealings, covert activities.
- None - it’s about sex, right?
- Beautiful, sensual
- Sleazy, sluttish
- Outrageously expensive
- Raggedy clothes [no money]
- Sexual swagger
- Flirtatious – or repressed
- Violence, particularly sexual
FOIBLES, PHOBIAS, FOODS
- Frigidity to nymphomania, fetishes to addiction
- Shopaholics, kleptomaniacs
- Oysters, champagne
- Chocolate - stimulates oxytocin
STYLES OF SPEECH
- Seductive, languid
- Fast-paced, frenetic
- Tight, short, clipped if repressed
- Sensual, tango, saxophone
- Country-Western, Blues
- Pop love-n-loss songs
Bizet’s Carmen, Lolita, Marquis de Sade, most Tennessee Williams characters, the Sex in the City girls.
50 Shades of Grey, porno films, Secretary, American Gigolo, Body Heat, Chicago, Chocolat, Double Indemnity, Fatal Attraction, LA Confidential, Last Tango in Paris, Like Water for Chocolate, Moulin Rouge, Pretty Woman, Titanic
Your Sacral characters will be focused on sex and sensuality, on money, or on fear. Sometimes it’s a fear of losing money or sex. Everything they do will be aimed at acquisition of money, sensual indulgence, or alleviation of fear.
Some characters are always going to be motivated by money and sex, regardless of how much of either they get, how old they get, or how the circumstances of their life change. Yet some will grow and change.
As a character rises above the tribal and animal motivations of the Sacral Chakra, what’s next? Me. I. Me, me, me. Mine, mine, all mine = the Lower Solar Plexus Chakra.
Awareness Exercise - Come up with two examples of a Sacral Chakra character or situation.
Writing Exercise - Rewrite an existing scene to make your selected character on the Sacral Chakra. Use at least four of the descriptors listed above when writing about their actions, how they speak, how they look, their astrological sign, their favourite film, etc.
Inner Drives / The Power of the Dark Side / Symbols.Images.Codes / Beyond the Hero’s Journey / Alpha Babes / ArchePaths / Warrior Way for Filmmakers / and many more.
© 2013 Pamela Jaye Smith www.mythworks.net
- More Inner Drives articles by Pamela Jaye Smith
- Balls of Steel: Finding Character Motivation, Conflict and Compassion
- Specs & The City: Establishing Characters and ‘Raiders of the Lost Ark’
- Storytelling Strategies: Monster University‘s Scary Character Arcs