Well, more on pirate narrative structures. Today, it’s Key Equipment and Supporting Characters, below.
What interests me about this exercise is not so much the usefulness of better understanding pirate stories, but rather the way it reflects onto the construction of fiction in general.
A story of any kind is an end product of a series of questions – who’s my protagonist? What’s their situation? What do they want to change about it? What happens as a result of that desire? etc. The answers to those questions are on one level limitless; the content of fiction can be equally wide ranging.
However, answering those questions – ‘Who’s my protagonist? A pirate’ – and fulfilling the expectations associated with those answers (‘this is how pirates behave’) can lead to a surprisingly restricted set of moral arguments. Fiction is infinite; our moralities aren’t, something it’s very useful to be aware of.
3) Key equipment
The pirate is outside a given society. His equipment should represent that outsider status:
a) Living space
An entirely personalised space, springing from the pirate’s obsessions and representing his history. It should be both an accurate representation of his / her character and personality, and easily abandoned.
The pirate should have access to modes of transport (whether virtual or real) that allow him / her to circumvent any restrictions created by the oppositional culture. The OC’s attempts to prevent the pirate from achieving free movement in pursuit of his goals will form key plot points.
As previously noted, the pirate takes sustenance from the oppositional culture on his / her own terms. He will make use of whatever armaments necessary to achieve this. Again, the type and level of damage that these armaments do to the OC / its representatives are a key plank in the moral judgements that the story expects the reader to reach.
4) Supporting characters
Other characters will either be for, against or neutral towards the pirate. Moral ambiguity is difficult to sustain in such a morally charged narrative.
a) Other characters
Explicitly or implicitly they will share the pirates estrangement from the oppositional culture. Level, type and significance of support will be dependent on their depth of estrangement. Contrasts between the supporting characters’ and opposition culture’s morality cast light on each.
b) Neutral characters
Under certain circumstances, non-judgemental characters could be used to cast an ironic light on the absurdities of both pirate and opposition culture positions, implying a set of moral absolutes that exist above and beyond the set of dualistic oppositions that protagonist and antagonist embody.
Hmm, thought I’d written something about opposing characters – obviously not. Tho’ having looked over all the rest of this, I don’t think I need to. Their narrative function should by now be pretty clear!
*stumps off one-leggedly to look for treasure*