Friday, August 2, 2013

Fiction Friday - Post 1: Birth Order, first pass

Fiction Friday
Post 1: Birth Order, first pass

Since I find myself spending the bulk of my 'free-time' writing fiction these days, it seems appropriate to use a little of that time explaining why - thus, the new Daily Theme Meme: Fiction Friday.

Writing fiction is my current way of sharing what I have learned, and continue to learn, from my family history and genealogy research and from life in general. I hope that in this series of Friday posts I am able to demonstrate why and how I do this. My hope is you will find something useful and meaningful for yourself by reading each post.

Birth Order, first pass

Of the many characteristics of relationships in families, to me, Birth Order stands out as a primary characteristic of the first order. I have not studied Birth Order theories in depth but have done enough reading to support my observations and interpretations. If you want to learn more, you might start here.

I used my understanding of Birth Order in creating the four siblings in my first novel, the first in 'The Homeplace Series' - "Back to the Homeplace," a continuing family saga. The four adult siblings are brought back to their southern Missouri Ozarks 'Homeplace' farm and community (from around the country) by the unusual video will of their mother when she died (at a not old age, 69). [A story of Birth Order in their earlier years would be interesting, but for the plot of the first novel we first see the four children as adults; but, Birth Order is still at work.

Basically, we have: 1) The Oldest, 2) The Second Child, 3) the Middle Child, and 4) the Youngest Child. There are other, mediating factors, of course, but these descriptors work well as a starting point. I did add one further issue that adds some spice to the story, as it often does in real-life families. There is a sizable gap, fourteen years, between child three and child four. Finally, the mix of genders can be important, as well. More on gender in a future post, of course, but here we had: female, female, male and male.

For our story, set in early 1987 at the beginning of the novel, our siblings were (and I am looking them up on my Reunion Genealogy Software on my MacBook Pro - right next to my own 15,000+ family database - to be sure I have this right):

1 - Karen, 52, born 9 Aug 1934
2 - Beverly, 45, born 10 May 1941
3 - Bart, 44, born 31 Aug 1942
4 - Peter, 30, born 26 Jun 1956

To keep this simple for today, Karen the oldest, was bright, active, a natural leader, and fairly independent. Beverly was just as bright, perhaps, but from early in life felt like an under-achiever because, in their small town/rural setting, she was always compared to her older sister and always came up short.

Bart, though relatively close to Beverly in age, was treated as the Youngest Child for many years, was somewhat spoiled (perhaps more so because he was the first boy); but in later years assumed the mediator style of the Middle Child.

Peter was the Youngest Child, always got his way, grew up in more affluence, to more mature parents and often sought out his own alternatives in life choices. He did exhibit some independence like an Oldest Child, because for many years, he was the Only Child in the family, at home.

As you can see, I am able to build into my characters the characteristics I have seen, over and over, in my observations of my own family through the generations, without needing to worry about necessarily 'pinpointing' particular people in the story.

We'll talk about this more, next time.

Families are Forever - and the stories never end, either!  ;-)

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