This isn’t going to be about horror and blood, honest.

Recently I discovered some wonderful news and after the fireworks had stopped, it made me think. How often do we see some kind of family trauma as being the catalyst for the actions of a narrative?

It seems to be an easy way to create a level of engagement in the reader / viewer for whatever story you’re trying to weave together without the relative risk of having to rely on characters who are unrelated, happening to feel strongly enough about any given situation to bond in the way you need them to.

We’ve all seen the film or read the book where the main characters family is touched in some scary way and that’s what sets the narrative ball rolling. The pain that the characters feel due to the familial bond is what everyone reads and we all subconsciously recognise how that pain could move someone to embark on all manner of adventures. Because if we were confronted by the same situation concerning a family member of our own, wouldn’t we dive in as well?

My own novel, The Circle of Fire, has a strong root of family in the story and that’s one of the main reasons the central character goes along with all of the weird and wonderful action which unfolds as the story moves along. Without the connection of blood it’s more likely that rather than embark on the journey, they’d give cursory help and then turn their backs.

As a reader though, so many of the family ties in stories can explain keeping you switched on. The action would happen like that. We’d do the same in the same situation and that lends much needed credibility to almost any and all fantastical tales.

I know I refer to Star Wars quite a bit during these posts but it holds so many topics that are folded through all manner of stories, it’s a relative gold mine. Think about all of the family links that hold the films together and it’s easy to understand why things take place the way they do. Luke is desperate to get up and go but when he’s told all of the details from Obi-wan he’s reticent. It takes the rather gory demise of his aunt and uncle to nudge him in the right direction.

So we all need to have some major engagement in how things happen in stories and roping in the family is a perfect way to tug the heart strings.

And as for me, my great news is, I found out I’m going to be an uncle at the back end of this year. That’s right, the Star Wars fan becomes Uncle Owen.

I’m screwed!

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