The Thinking Quill

Good morrow sweet Reader Who Writes,

It is I, Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV, harbinger of spring, dispenser of wisdom, icon of perfect taste, and world-renowned author. For those of you who do not know one, one has sincere commiserations, but no intention of repeating one’s credentials. Look me up!

Oh yes, my beloved students, your pedagogue is in waspish form on this day. Try not one’s patience lest one turns upon you with the svelte ferocity of a maculate tiger, lest one bites you with the teeth of the hooded cobra, lest one scorn you with the poisoned barbs of a beautiful woman, lest, worst of all, one turns one’s back on you and excludes you from one’s tribe. Which, with all one’s usual deftness of touch, brings one to…

How to Start Writing a Book – Lesson 25: The Write Tribe

Tribalism, as one needs to see it from the point of view of the intelligent scribe, is the basic breaking of humanity into groups. This occurs in order that our peculiar bipedal species may function both socially and emotionally. Even though we all – yes even you – belong to the same basic genus (the human race), it is impossible for the tiny minds of most to comprehend anything so vast. And even those of us with the largeness of vision and the scope of imagination to see the vast sprawl of humanity as our brethren will still be more at ease as part of a defined sub-group, or tribe.

Ergo, my wide-eyed innocents, it behoves us as humble scribblers, as the custodians of the communal mind, as the still small voice of the conscience of humanity, to take cognisance of tribal mores and the tightness of social groups when we build the complex worlds upon which our heroes stride and our villains crawl.

So how may we define our tribal groupings for the benefit of our readership?

The smallest and simplest group is the family, which we may simply define by name, be that patronym, matronymic, or any other device that occurs.

One up in size from family will be the village/town/school/workplace group. This can be defined by where a person lives, or they can be referred to as alumni of wherever, or, of course, we have the device of uniform for workplace tribes.

One larger will be areas, such as the counties in our own fair land, whose denizens may be conveniently delineated by accent or quirk of speech.

And finally: Nationality can be shorthanded by physical characteristics – such as the bland coldness of certain northerners, the dark oiliness of the mare nostrum nations, the dark smoothness of those who hail from some subcontinents, and so forth.

All very easy and precise, but where those of you without ones breadth of experience and largeness of both intellect and imagination will fall every time is on those tribes not defined by any of the above.

The tribe whose defining characteristic is its support of the hero: This group may be defined either by outstanding physical beauty or by its humbleness and willingness to sit at the feet of one’s hero basking in his knowledge and beauty. Or both.

The antithesis of the first will be the tribe whose sole purpose in life is to make our hero’s life a misery, or to profit from crime, or to promulgate lies, or…: This tribe may be conveniently singled out by one of the following methods. They may have chosen for themselves a uniform of sorts (preferably a black one). They will bear a distinguishing mark from birth (ugliness, mole, deformity etc). Or they may have chosen to mark themselves by means of tattoo, body piercing, hair colour/style/shaven head.

From one’s own experience the use of bodily inking in specified patterns is among the most easily understood devices by which one can identify the tribe from which one’s antagonist springs. That or many gold teeth, sharpened and set with jewels, should one’s antihero emanate from wealth as well as depravity.

And that mes estudas concludes our lesson on tribalism.

Do not have nightmares trying to identify your own tribe.

Bene scribere!

Moonbeam Farquhar Metheringham IV

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