What is the Worldview Genre?
An internal story, Worldview genres focus on the lens through which we view the world and the consequences of those lens choices. It turns on the naivete/sophistication spectrum, while providing readers with feelings of relief at the protagonist’s emerging whole from a threat to their internal status quo, or pity for a less fortunate avatar.
The underlying question in every Worldview story is:
How can we solve problems we don’t yet understand? How do we cope with events our existing belief structures cannot process?
What is the Controlling Idea of the Worldview Genre?
The universal theme or CONTROLLING IDEA of a Worldview story is either:
- Prescriptive: We gain new wisdom when we share our gifts with a multicolored and imperfect world that’s neither all or nothing.
- Cautionary: We descend into meaninglessness when we fail to mature past a black and white view of the world.
The Four Core Framework of the Worldview Genre
The FOUR CORE FRAMEWORK helps us meet reader expectations by bringing the core of our story into focus to create an irresistible, memorable, and shareable experience for the reader.
1. Core Need
The core need of self actualization arises after the INCITING INCIDENT shakes up the protagonist’s view of themselves, the world or both. The challenge starts the process to dismantle their current worldview, which allows for the creation of a deeper worldview and actualization of their potential in the real world.
2. Core Value
Ignorance to Wisdom
Worldview stories show readers how self-actualization involves cognitive movement from Naivete (black and white thinking) to more sophisticated discernment, giving up dependence on all or nothing categorizations of events, people and things. Gathering knowledge gives way to the acquisition of wisdom that constitutes the worldview shift.
3. Core Emotion
Satisfaction or pity
The reader feels satisfied when the protagonist grows wiser and shares their insight with the world. The reader feels pity when the protagonist refuses to accept a new view of the world. The reader also feels loss of the insight that only that individual could provide.
4. Core Event
The CLIMAX in a Worldview story gives the reader a chance to witness what the protagonist does with the new wisdom available to them. Do they regress or grow into the new knowledge?
5 Conventions of the Worldview Genre
Genre Conventions are specific requirements for the story’s ALTERNATE WORLD, AVATARS, or circumstances that create conflict and enable solutions. Conventions set up genre reader expectations. Without them, the reader will be confused, unsettled, or bored and quit reading.
The Worldview genre has five necessary conventions:
- A MENTOR Figure (e.g., Atticus Finch from To Kill a Mockingbird, Mr. Miyagi from The Karate Kid)
- A big social problem as subtext (racism, misogyny, class conflict, etc.)
- SHAPESHIFTERS as hypocrites: secondary characters who say one thing and do another
- A clear point of no return: the moment when the protagonist knows they can never go back to the way things used to be
- Paradoxical win-but-lose or lose-but-win bittersweet ending
8 Obligatory Moments in the Worldview Genre
Obligatory Moments are the must-have events, revelations, or decisions and actions that pay off the raised expectations of the conventions.
The Worldview genre has eight obligatory moments:
- An inciting opportunity or challenge
- The protagonist denies responsibility to respond to the opportunity or challenge.
- When forced, the protagonist lashes out against the requirement to change behavior.
- The protagonist learns what the antagonist’s external object of desire is.
- The protagonist’s initial strategy to outmaneuver the antagonist fails.
- During an all is lost moment, the protagonist realizes that in order to integrate the irony of reality into her/his worldview s/he must vary from her/his black/white view of the world.
- The CLIMAX occurs when the protagonist’s gifts are expressed as acceptance of an imperfect world.
- The protagonist’s loss of ignorance is rewarded with deeper understanding of the universe.
Worldview Genre Subgenres
The Worldview genre can be broken down into four subgenres:
- Maturation – A shift in worldview from naivete to sophistication.
Example: To Kill a Mockingbird, Saturday Night Fever
- Disillusionment – A shift in worldview from belief to disillusionment.
Example: The Great Gatsby, The Silence of the Lambs
- Education – A shift in worldview from meaningless to meaning.
Examples: Educating Rita, Tender mercies, How the Grinch Stole Christmas
- Revelation – A shift in the worldview from ignorance to wisdom.
Example: Oedipus Rex, “Beware of the Dog,” “The Story of Your Life”
“The Worldview Maturation story is essentially the Heroic Journey 2.0. All stories have maturation built into them as each story’s change arc requires the protagonist to shift their point of view in order to attain wisdom or experience.” — Shawn Coyne
Additional Resources for the Worldview Genre
- The Four Core Framework by Shawn Coyne (Portions of this article have been taken from this book.)
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