Walking Dead, Where’s Beth?

Walking Dead season 5 opened with blood and guts as we expected in this zombie post-apocalypse horror show. But, we got answers as well to some questions lingering from the cliffhanger end of Season 4.

Did our heroic band of survivors stumble into the clutches of cannibals? Yes they did.

Will they survive — yes they will.

But, unanswered WHERE IS BETH?

Pretty beth croppedTo make an educated guess, let’s look at Beth’s storyline, her Character ARC. Where did she start? What’s happed so far? Where is she going?

First let’s consider those authors in the ‘writer’s room’ who put the show together. How do they assemble characters? After that, let’s dig into Beth’s story.

The writers create WARRIOR ARCHETYPES

  • Rick the Deputy Sheriff — wears boots, a cowboy looking hat, a gun on his hip and cleans up dens of bad guys — can you say, “Hello Western Warrior ArchetypeAndrew Lincoln as Rick Grimes cropped — the COWBOY SHERIFF WARRIOR ARCHETYPE.”
  • Michonne — SAMURAI ARCHETYPE.
  • Daryl — Hello Robin Hood, the ARCHER ARCHETYPE.
  • Andrea — a creative twist on the cliché DUMB BLOND.
  • The Governor — a PIRATE with an eye-patch.
  • Carol – COMMANDO ARCHETYPE

So, there we are. The writers use archetypes to create Walking Dead characters.

Where does Beth fit?

In the final scenes of Season 4, a flashback shows Carl’s deputy-sheriff hat blowing off his head, Rick picks it up and plunks it on Beth’s head and saying, “There’s a new sheriff in town.”

Why is Beth called the new sheriff? Nothing is accidental in TWD script, so what does that bit of action accomplish? Will Beth become another SHERIFF WARRIOR?

Character ARC for Beth

Is Beth’s a COMING OF AGE story?

  • 15 when the Apocalypse struck,
  • 16 when Rick and company arrived at the farm,
  • 17 when creepy former prisoner tried to flirt with her at the prison/fort.

She grew up in a dry household – no alcohol. She is the baby of the family – a pretty, blue-eyed blonde – no doubt a virgin.

Beautiful Maiden Archetype?

Life in the post-apocalypse world is tough on maidens. She learns to shoot, becomes as well-trained in the arsenal of weapons as the others. Beth is a baby-sister, a nurse, a cook and a singer. She raises emotional spirits among the survivors. She stabs zombies on the fence line. So her emotional growth includes the maiden warrior but hints as another female archetype: the warrior mother.

Her clearly hopeful outlook, her willingness to soothe others, her expressed wish to have a baby suggests she might be able to carry the emotional female-center of the group.

By the time the prison is attacked, when she sees her father beheaded by the Governor, she has become strong warrior and grabs an automatic weapon to fight in the doomed effort to beat-back the attackers.

Into the Forrest

She escapes from the prison with Daryl into the woods. Now Beth is alone in the Forest with a strong male warrior. Where have we seen that before — how about fairy tales where the beautiful maiden is banished from the castle to the magical forest? Forest settings in folklore are places where characters undergo tests, gather strength and acquire new survival skills.

Daryl and Beth find an abandoned car where they take refuge in the trunk. Hey, a car! Beth and Daryl in a trunkWhere many a couple have found more to do than just sleep. And the two of them are snuggling in the trunk — a tight space. Eek! WHAT COULD HAPPEN? Apparently nothing, but in her coming of age story, she is now confronted with the adult reality of her sexuality. What direction will it take?

With Daryl, she suggests drinking Peach Schnapps but he refuses to let her have Peach Schnapps as her first drink. In this exchange, Daryl is more than just her physical protector; he becomes the protector of her transit to adulthood. Peach Schnapps is for babies and she is no longer a child. Daryl protects her Alcohol Virginity.

At a bootlegger’s cabin that Daryl knows about, she has her first drink – moonshine. Daryl is her escort as she transits to adulthood.

What will happen when they drink alcohol together? Once again sexuality questions are raised.

In the cabin, drinking hard liquor, she invites a game of Never Have I Ever — and what might the ‘never’ be? No doubt about it: its sex.

But Daryl is a man’s man. Not a ladies’ man. Maidens are not for him and perhaps to relieve his sexual and emotional tension, he does a very manly thing — he pees on the wall. Let’s face it, when a man pulls it out and pees publicly he is making a statement about his manhood.

So.

NO sex. Just a hot fight followed by intimate, emotional exchanges that reveal character motivations, goals and obstacles from both of them.

Beth’s sympathy allows Daryl’s strong protective nature to be revealed. Daryl is driven by a motivation to protect.  When he could not save Hershel from the Governor, his goals were stymied. Now, in company with Beth, Daryl breaks down emotionally.

In Snow White, the evil queen gives the Maiden a poisoned apple. Biting into the apple, Intimate moment with Darylthe Maiden falls into a suspended sleep [mythological abduction]. She is put in a coffin by the dwarfs and only awakes when the handsome Prince kisses her. Daryl sleeping in the coffin is a role reversal. Continuing the role reversal, Beth hugging Daryl from behind awakens his emotional self.

Embedded in the sequence we find Beth shooting his bow and arrow — clearly her motivation is survival. Is she changing into Diana, the Roman Goddess of the hunt?

In an attempt to kill a walker with the bow and arrow, Beth turns her ankle. Daryl takes on the role of Mr. Darcy as he carries her piggy back to the house and once in the house carries her across a threshold like Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice, Jane Austen’s hero of yesteryear. The sequence with Beth and Daryl throws out a lot of sexual innuendo and we get to know them much better as they struggle and fight. But a herd of zombies breaks up the party.

Daryl is sidelined killing said zombies. The last we see of Beth is her bag on the ground and a car peeling out with a cross painted on it.

Beth has been Abducted

In ancient mythologies, the abducted girl is taken to the underworld — Hades, hell. While she is gone the earth dries up and nothing grows. Daryl’s heart dries up. He is undone by her loss and takes up with the Claimed group, then gets taken in by cannibals. But the first time he sees a car like the one that took her, he is off and chasing it.

But he is also with Carol, are the writers working up to a second triangular affair? Carol, Daryl, Beth?

How Do Maidens and Virginal Princesses End Up?

Virginal Princesses end up married to the Prince — a happily, ever after ending.

Some of them are sacrificed at the volcano to appease the God of Fire — a not so happy ending but one with some prestige.

Or they are sacrificed to the monster in the castle (King Kong? Beauty and the Beast?) to keep him away from the villagers.

Or, is she the new dumb blond? Will she make stupid decisions like Andre did? Both she and Andrea could take care of themselves out among the zombies but that didn’t save Andrea from her own failings and inability to see the dark side.

A TV-teasing-trailer shows Beth rising from a hospital bed and gazing out the window to a rooftop parking lot in a big city. The teaser ends with a female police officer entering the room accompanied by a male doctor. His mouth is red, the officer is wearing red lipstick – hmmm? Are we seeing more sexual innuendo around Beth?

Well, well, well!

the high placeA beautiful young woman, stranded high atop a tower and held against her will by a threatening older woman…hmmm? We have seen that in fairy tales of yore — so I’m going with Beautiful Maiden in the Tower Archetype. Except in the updated version of the story the princess gets herself out of the tower.

The next episode where all is revealed is titled, Slabtown.

We see Beth alone, sitting on the edge of an elevator shaft in a TV-teaser clip.  Yeah.  She will get herself out!

But, does Beth save the prince?
And, does the title of the next episode, Slabtown,
indicate that it is a place of death?
A modern-day Hades?

We luv The Walking Dead’s Carol!

I am Carol, hear me roar…

Carol Peletier survived the Zombie virus outbreak, got away in company with her battering husband and young daughter Sophie. Then things went south.Carol battered wife

Her bad guy husband knocked her around, kept her from interacting with the other survivors and generally made people angry. Then he was got by a Walker and went to his just reward.

Carol, the meek, beaten down and battered wife takes a pick-ax to her dead husband’s head to prevent him from turning into a Zombie. For some, that would be an act of love. For Carol it is courageous and shows her awakening strength.

So Carol now must recover her bearings. She is doing well until poor little Sophie Sophie is deaddisappears into the Walker’s Woods and Carol, the mother, is brought to her knees. Weeks later when Sophie appears again as a walker, Carol reaches a low point of emotional anguish. Now we await. How will this character react to more heartbreak?

The demands of living take over and she kills Walkers to survive — as Yoda would say, the “Force is strong in this one.” The survival instinct that kept her alive in a brutal marriage is at work.

Later, during a fairly safe period at an abandoned prison refashioned as a FORT, we see sparks of life emerge as she has a relationship with Daryl. Are they lovers?

Growing in strength as a survivalist-warrior-mother, she begins instructing the children under her care in the art of using knives to fight off Walkers.

But disaster strikes the fort in the form of a killer-type flu virus. It moves fast through the hearty troop but Carol is faster. Fearing a deadly viral epidemic, she secretly kills two flu victims who are near death and she secretly burns their bodies in hopes of stopping the virus. The energy of a survivalist, a mother, a warrior and a killer has surfaced from her emotional depths.

Yet the mother in Carol lives still and she takes on two orphaned girls. As a character her mothering instincts are now set against her warrior-killer instincts. At the moment, Carol the killer is still motivated by a caring concern for the well-being of others — she protected her band from death by flu.

OMG! How we love complex characters like this one.

But, when discovered as the secret killer, she is banned from the group and left to survive on her own in the Walker’s Woods.

Survive she does. So much so that she sees the fort-prison being overrun and sees Carol tyreese childrenTyreese rescuing her former students. Meeting up with him in Walker Woods, her mothering characteristics join with his protective instincts and they partner up to care for: Judith an infant, Mika aged 10, and Lizzie age 12.

But Lizzie goes off the psychopathic deep end. It turns out that, back at the fort-prison she killed a number of small animals and left them to be found by adults. Lizzie has an unrealistic and unhealthy fascination with Walkers. Lizzie kills her sister Mika as an experiment to prove that Walkers are not all bad.

With an infant survivor to protect, Carol and Tyreese simply cannot deal with a psycho — their own safety is even at stake. Carol, in tears, nevertheless summons the strength to execute Lizzie. In that moment, Carol’s mothering instinct must go to war with her survival-warrior-killer instinct. The survival-killer instinct wins. And not just wins but also mirrors the killer instinct in psychopathic Lizzie. Its killer vs. killer.

What separates the two is motivation. Carol is motivated by a survival-protective instinct for herself and for Tyreese and baby Judith. Lizzie is motivated by an unrealistic or childish, belief that good exists in Walkers. An idealistic hoped for good has become psychopathic and is, in fact, at war with life and death reality. Idealism vs. reality. Life and death. Good and evil. Survival against motherhood. Killer vs. Killer.

And that dear reader, is why Walking Dead draws 17 million viewers to its weekly show. Brilliant writing, amazing thematic execution and creation of dynamite characters.

Back to Carol whose character ARC has taken her from helpless battered wife to conscience killer — not cold-blooded — she kills with a self-protective, mothering motive — but kills she does.

She, Tyreese and baby Judith, continue following signs that promise sanctuary at Terminus. The audience knows that all the other survivors in her group are now prisoners of Terminus human-eaters – cannibals.

So when Carol and Tyreese come upon one of the Terminians plotting against Rick’s group, they take him captive. Tyreese stays behind with infant Judith. Carol goes out to save the day.

In that moment, we see Carol don the archetype-character role of a Guerrilla Warrior.carol in camo

The warrior of many faces, skills and talents who works secretly behind the scenes to wreak devastation on enemies and protect the homeland. These warrior characters are the Marines’ Force Recon, the Army Rangers, the Navy’s SEAL Teams, the CIA’s Special Operations Group. Trained to survive in multiple environments inside enemy territory, they improvise when necessary to overcome dangerous situations and they complete their mission.

Carol’s mission is to find her group and go to their aid. She disguises herself as a Walker, takes needed gear from the Terminian being held by Tyreese, approaches Terminus stealthily and assesses the situation. Seeing Rick bound, a helpless prisoner, tells her everything she needs to know. Now she goes into action. That means blowing up a propane tank and creating havoc.zombie-explosion-in-episode-1-entitled-no-sanctuary-season-5-of-amcs-the-walking-dead

Later, with Terminus destroyed, with the group saved and reunited, it is clear that Carol is a changed woman. And as such, she is accepted back into the group. The scene is the equivalent of the awards ceremony at the end of Star Wars.

And that, dear reader, is the reason for the Walking Dead’s massive success.

It is the best of Commercial Genre Fiction — be it novels or TV or film or comics or staged plays or, in a remote possibility, Grand Opera. Great fiction shows us complex characters with deep motivations overcoming obstacles and changing for good or ill. Walking Dead deserves some awards.

But, back at the ranch…

What’s Next for Carol?

Oct. 12 begins the next ten week Intensive Workshop

Join Us!

Our small group meets on Sunday afternoons to share our novels-in-progress and discuss the formal aspects of Commercial Genre Fiction.  We do not address literary fiction so leave any thought of your English Teacher’s prescriptive world behind.

The workshop is part of UT’s Continuing and Innovative Education program.

Here’s What We Talk About Each Week:

Week 1-IntroductionRight Brain Left Brain

  • Writer’s are in the entertainment industry
  • Left-brain, right-brain approaches to writing
  • Feedback is not Editing
  • Understanding commercial genre fiction

2-The Scene

  • How scenes functions in commercial genre novels
SCENES are the building blocks of novels

SCENES are the building blocks of novels

3-Characters

  • Character goals, motivations, conflicts in scenes

    Characters are the foundation of your story.

    Characters are the foundation of your story.

 

 

 

 

 

Plot, the backbone of your story.

4-Plot

Plot using Beat Sheets, Hero’s Journey, or the Three Act Structure

Plot is the backbone of your story.
 

5-Personal Feedback

  • Personal consults with the instructor

 6-Character ARCs

  •  Character  case study, The Walking Dead
  • Many of the Walking Dead characters represent Archetypes drawn from historical sources.  For example, the Japanese Samurai warrior serves as a real-life model for the Walking Dead character named Michonne.

michonne in action cropped

samurai-juga

 

 

 

 

 

7 – Story ARCS

  •  Where does your story start? Where does it end? A case study, Jurassic Park

Jurassic Park Story ARC

 

 

 

8-Scene ARCs

  • Scene  case study:  Jaws.  In a tender scene between father and son, we see the father character who is beat up because a woman in town has accused him of letting her son be eaten by the Great White shark that is cruising just off shore in this sea-coast town.  He starts the scene a broken man and we see his restorative interaction with his own son and we also learn the ‘theme’ of this film which is ‘family is worth risking everything to save.’  with a kiss from his young child he is made whole enough to go out and fight the shark.  Kisses are big in Commercial Genre Fiction.

jaws-dinner-table-scene

9-Crafting a Mini-story Template

  •  Crafting a concise description of your novel.

Elevator Speech

10-Conclusion

  • Elements of the Writing Life: trust your own voice.
  •  Course Summary

Join us on a novel-writing journey.

The Writer’s Studio-workshop

A place where students retain artistic control, stylistic decision-making and personal authority over their own work.

Progress to a final draft is accomplished through personal effort, fun discussions, reflection on the writing process and participating with sympathetic souls.

Authors writing novels in the real world produce drafts for their novel-in-progress; in the writer’s studio-workshop, apprentice authors write drafts of fiction ‘as if’ a fiction career already existed for them. Participants do not write theoretical practice exercises.

Write like a Career Author

fountain pen creativityApprentice authors work with the values and mind-set of a career author. During the workshop, an apprentice lives the fiction career lifestyle.

Write from Your Inner Passionhearts

Workshops let apprentice authors float in the creative juices of their own artistry. The apprentice engages in a full-range of the craft processes used to create a publishable novel including: choosing a genre, crafting a plot, developing characters and authoring scenes that sizzle.

Build Your Own KnowledgeImagination

Students create their own knowledge base through making personal artistic decision that directly serve the needs of his/her novel-in-progress. While the teacher presents a range of craft details and techniques, the student learns by choosing among them to produce and structure his/her own artistic work.

Work With a Community

Writers-Workshop croppedDiscuss your project and the writing life with others, the group reflects on the means, methods and experiences of writing like a career novelist.

Artistic skills have, through thousands of years, developed in studios, or ‘schools’ where an apprentice began the road to mastery by painting, sculpting, throwing pottery and other artistic endeavors in the company of other students led by an instructor who could provide guidance.

Make 2014 the Year You DO IT!!

Walking Dead: Case Study

Holy Wicked Walking  Zombies!

Child zombie cropped

Little girl zombies — too shocking !!

The Walking Dead has everything that good visual storytelling demands! It has elegant writing, excellent acting and fantastic production values. During the fourth season of the series, it attracted an audience of more than 16 million viewers for some of the episodes (2013-2014).  In fact, this post-apocalyptic horror drama is a bona-fide monster success. And that makes it a good subject for our workshop to  study because film and TV  begin with scripts –  scripts that were created by a writer like you.

Lesson #1:   Study the Accomplishments of Successful Writers

Because great story-tellers use a tool-box of similar  underlying techniques, and because it is faster for us to view a film than it is  to read a novel, this workshop occasionally uses examples of films to analyze  great writing and some techniques of the fiction craft.

Fiction is Fun

..always leave your key characters in jeopardy and leave your readers/audience with burning questions about key characters…

Wimberley Writer’s Workshops focus on commercial genre fiction – we read books or watch film written by the master storytellers out there in the marketplace. Yes, there are literary masters, but this class is about writing for commercial genres.

Common advice for beginning writers is to go read the NAME BRAND WRITERS in your particular genre — don’t know what your genre is?  The class introduces genres. Brand Name Writers are the authors who always show up on Sunday’s New York Times bestseller list.  Their books are shelved at the front of Barns & Noble’s bricks & mortar stores. Also,  watch blockbuster films and popular TV in your genre to capture a sense of what audiences love right now.

Then as your understanding of the fiction craft advances, you will be able to pick out the tricks of the trade used by the authors and scriptwriters. You will also start to notice the good, the bad and the ugly! Even when the ugly is so good you love it. Reference: the recent cult fee-nom: Sharknado and Sharknado 2: The Second One.  Both movies are total send-ups of The Walking Dead with internal nods to Jaws.

Captain Quint

Captain Quint (played by Robert Shaw) was a counterpoint to the other good guys…he was a bad good guy.

How does Sharknado accomplish that? To begin with, it starts with a ridiculous premise: tornadoes pick up sharks in the ocean and rain them down on people – and the sharks don’t die out of water! Holy moly!!! Air breathing sharks who just want to eat people! Kind of like zombies, the living dead,  who just want to eat people. And in Sharknado, now and then, a character will recreate a ‘moment’ from Jaws – example: one of the girls has terrible scars on her leg (of course, the film makers must show skin  ;-) . She tells a story of shipwreck and how the sharks circled the survivors floating in the water and how ‘one six-year-old girl’ was pulled from the sea.  The reference is to Robert Shaw’s wonderful moment in Jaws, when  as Captain Quint, he tells his story of surviving days in the ocean after the Independence was torpedoed in World War Two.

Sharknado shows how Walking Dead could have been a failure: ridiculous premise, stupid characters, no significant redeeming features.

So why is Walking Dead a giant success? Answer: it has mastered the underlying craft of storytelling.

 Writers Workshops examine film and TV as well as novels

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  • ARCHETYPE

    In Literature: a character based on a well known pattern of behavior and patterned relationships to other characters.

    Archetype characters occur in mythology, novels and films. They serve both a story function and a psychological function. See
    http://www.thewritersjourney.com/
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Monomyth

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