Common Symbols: Stars, ivy, wheat or other grains, a river, fruit, hearts, horns of plenty
Examples in Plot: A strong character in touch with their emotions – but not necessarily a female! – who helps the main character to heal in one way or another, and makes sure their basic needs are met while on their journey. (Demeter, the mother of Persephone, is the original example of the mothering healer. Other famous Empresses include Star Trek: Voyager’s C aptain Janeway, and Harry Potter’s Molly Weasley. Effie Trinket from The Hunger Games even fills this role to some extent – Empresses come in all shapes and sizes!)
Character Archetypes: The Mother, The Nurse, “Team Mom”.
Upside-Down: Someone whose best intentions hurt more than they heal, a smothering person.
Concepts to Consider...
For the character: Generosity can be a powerful tool in fiction. Don’t confuse it with sacrifice (having your character give away something they need or treasure, in order to grow): in the realm of the Empress, generosity means giving to those in need of what you have. An Empress figure will give your characters something they need to complete a task at hand: it’s usually something physical, a tool or resource, rather than wisdom or advice, which are the realm of the High Priestess.
For the author: Within your community, do you have any skills which could help fellow authors? Perhaps you have experience with a part of the process which someone needs help with. Even if all you feel confident offering is your encouragement, share it: it will undoubtedly be appreciated.
Healing or Care
For the character: What author doesn’t enjoy putting their characters through peril? Your protagonist is going to hit rock bottom at some point before they get back up and muddle through … make sure they don’t have to do it alone. Their healer does not necessarily need to be present: perhaps they taught skills or gave supplies earlier, which can be used to survive. Scenes which detail one person c aring for another can be some of the most poignant, powerful scenes, too: if you have a chance to pop one into your story, let it ring true for your readers.
For the author: It may seem like common sense, but make sure that in between all of that Author Fuel (aka caffeine and snacks), you’re making conscious choices to take care of yourself: rest, stretching, water, healthy meals. Your brain won’t work for you nearly as well in a tired body!
For the character: When the Empress talks about creativity, she’s thinking more in the realm of what I grew up calling “Yankee Ingenuity”: the ability to solve a problem or fill a need in ways that aren’t necessarily commonplace. If this card appears when you’re trying to figure out where to take a scene, it means your character’s solution is going to be a unique one.
For the author: Yes, creativity is our bread and butter… but sometimes things just don’t want to come out on the page the way we think they should. Sometimes, considering a scene or aspect of the plot from a different angle will make all the difference, and transform a scene from something boring to one the reader will remember long after they’ve closed a book.
Children and Family
For the character: What is your main character’s relationship with their family? If they’re adults, do they still visit, or are they estranged? Do they strike a middle ground, only showing up for major holidays as a “command performance”? Perhaps they have no family, or consider their friends their true support group. Would they do well as a parent? Investigating their thoughts on family can tell you a lot more about them.
For the author: I hear many authors say that their characters and/or projects are like their children. Take a moment to think about your relationship with your current work. Are you caring for it properly? Smothering it? Playing favorites among your fictional children? Try and figure out what needs need filling in your work. A little trite? Maybe, sure … but it’s likely to make your story stronger.
Union or Harmony
For the character: In a pinch, the Empress figure in your novel can be a very effective mediator… and if you give them enough opportunity, they’ll likely have plenty of relationship advice, too: whether your characters want it or not! An Empress is good at reading people’s emotions, and suggesting practical ways to accept and deal with them.
For the author: Look for things which are out of balance over the course of your story: two people or places at odds, perhaps. Is there a way you can bring them together by the end? Even subtle resolutions can have a big impact on the overall tone of your work.
For the character: Let’s take a look at the dark side of the Empress, for a moment. We all know that our characters want to protect what’s important to them. But one of the biggest mistakes anyone can make is to try to protect something too much. If a character’s too caught up in protecting an object, they may miss some important detail or event. If they want to protect a person too much … well, they might end up making them angry or trapped. Either way, there are consequences. See if there’s a way to make this work for you.
For the author: Back up your work! Keep copies in several formats. The Empress urges us to be practical with our resources so that we can keep what we love safe, after all.
For the character: They want it! They need it! They can’t have it … not yet. Whether it’s something large or small, see how your characters handle having to wait … or make them make someone else wait, and see what happens.
For the author: Patience with your work and with yourself are two of the best tools you can have. If you’re not sure what to do, or you think something isn’t working (either on the page, or in the outside world of promotion , what I call “Authoring”) … just give it time! Either you’ll think of something, or someone will help.
Thanks for dropping by for this week's installment of the Author's Oracle! Please come back in two weeks, when I will introduce you to The Emperor!
Hi, all ... I know you were expecting The Empress, my next entry in The Author's Oracle: fret not, she's still coming soon. I have been doing some thinking, though, and come to the realization that drawing, researching, and writing one blog post in the course of a week, on top of writing and all else, is a tall order for myself. I will be scaling back the Oracle posts: either to a bi-weekly or monthly basis, depending on how things go.
There is also the fact that Camp NaNoWriMo is fast approaching! I have joined a lovely group of fellow writers: our intrepid Cabin Leader Mollie Wallace, Claire Huston, Matt Orlando, Faith Rivens, Jette Harris, Brittany Pettegrow, Emma Clare, Sarina Langer, and my dear friend Krista Viar. We will be banding together to cheer one another on and help each other work through when we get stuck... and I couldn't ask for a better group of cabinmates! If you can find the time, please check them all out: they've linked their blogs and sites in their profiles. (And of course, you can track my Camp progress on my profile, here!)
Until next week,
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