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Masterplots Theater: C is for Chosen One
It’s week two of the Blogging from A to Z Challenge, and time for our next installment of Masterplots Theater.
If you like focusing on a strong central character, creating clear-cut moral conflicts and enjoy getting down and dirty with fight scenes, this could be your plot. The Chosen One might be the most popular masterplot we will cover all month. It’s widely used in Sic-Fi and Fantasy, but shows up in every genre. It’s adaptability means it works for any age range reader. That flexibility also means there are a lot of Chosen One stories already out there. You will need to work extra hard to make yours stand out.
Chosen One Plot Notes:
The Chosen One character is always the hero of the tale, however a story can have more than one chosen character.
The Chosen One has little to no say in their destiny. They are appointed the task by external forces. This might happen at birth with a divine sign, such as the alignment of stars that announces the arrival of The Chosen One. Or this character might start out exceptionally ordinary, until the day their special fate is revealed. This often happens in conjunction with a coming-of-age birthday.
There can be a magical item that defines the hero, something powerful and significant that only responds to the touch of the true Chosen One.
This main character can be any age or gender, and is often named or called The Chosen One by the other characters. There is also a tendency for authors to title these books The Chosen One. According to my last Amazon search there were some 84,000 books with “Chosen One” in the title.
This character can be physically striking, with a high level of sexual attraction. Love triangles abound in this masterplot. But the Chosen One often has no clue how attractive or gifted they are. Insecurity is sometimes the only character flaw in this hero.
Typically, it’s not fun to be The Chosen One. They need to make sacrifices and their character arc is critical. This masterplot packs in the internal conflict as the Chosen One learns how to put their own needs aside for the greater good.
The midpoint of this plot almost always contains a major moment. It’s either a “turn back” moment when the hero wants to give up and pass the job to another. Or the “give in” moment, when the hero decides to stop avoiding danger and fight.
The Chosen One story always has high stakes, with black and white, good vs evil morality. The Chosen One and they alone must save the world from a powerful dark force. If they fail, so shall humanity.
Often the external conflict carries the action in this masterplot. And there can be a lot of action. With high stakes comes epic battles.
Example to Study:
There are so many examples for this plot, but I’ve selected The Lion, The Witch, and The Wardrobe, by C. S. Lewis.
MAGICAL ITEM: The wardrobe in this story is the portal to Narnia, yet it has failed to open for decades. It takes the touch of The Chosen Ones to activate the magic. Of the four children, it is Lucy who opens the doorway. It is also Lucy that first champions the cause of saving Narnia.
COMING FORETOLD: Mr. Beaver has the task of telling the children about their destiny. He recited the old rhyme and does his best to convince them of their mission. This is when we find out all four children are The Chosen Ones. They all must complete the mission to save Narnia. However, Beaver meets with little success; The Chosen Ones haven’t reached the “give in” moment.
HIGH STAKES: Jadis, White Witch of Narnia, has held the land in perpetual winter for centuries. Under her rule, fear of being turned to stone keeps everyone but the darkest and most vile creatures enslaved. The coming of The Chosen Ones triggers the arrival of Aslan, High King of Narnia. These two events create the turning point in the story’s stakes. The mood shifts as everyone starts to anticipate the epic battle of good vs. evil.
GIVE IN MOMENT: Before the battle can start, Peter tells Susan to take the others and go home! While Susan is ready to retreat, Edmund and Lucy are not. This is the moment each of them stops avoiding and accepts they must work together and embrace being The Chosen Ones to fight.
BONUS: This story gets points for having four Chosen Ones. Each of these characters brings a different layer to the story. Also because the children start out ordinary, every reader can cast themselves into the shoes of one of these characters.
There are so many examples of this plot in books and movies, I would need thousands of words to cover just the high points. ENDER’S GAME, THE DARK IS RISING, DUNE! Instead of creating a huge list I’ll leave this link to the TV Tropes entry and you can explore books and movies with The Chosen One masterplot on your own. And do come back tomorrow for another installment of Masterplots Theater, D is for Dystopia.
Please share your thoughts on Chosen One stories in the comments below.
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