Readers as Juror Detectives in Matriarchal Storytelling 

In Egyptian mythology, Anubis weighed souls after death and placed them on his scale with the heart on one side and a feather on the other.

If the heart was as light or lighter than the feather, paradise awaited you.

If it was heavier, it was tossed to Anubis’ dog Ammit to devour.

Those were the breaks in the ancient Egyptian afterlife.

These days, with many afterlife rehabilitation programs in place to aid the heavy-hearted in spiritual weight-loss…perhaps not quite, but there is a place where those without a tangible form are judged for their actions.

In fiction, of course.

We weigh the hearts of characters and act accordingly to our own inner Anubis Scale: if the heart of a character is so light, it floats, we root for him.

If it sinks, the character is to be promptly reviled and thrown in the villain pile.

In the Patriarchal Story, the reader is strictly the juror. He is guided by a single story with a confined and finite set of facts. All that is needed to make the assessment is presented, but *no more* than is needed. For those who studied communication theory, the phrase should be familiar to you. One of the tenets of Grice’s four rules of effective communication (Quantity, Quality, Manner, and Relation) is that the communicator says all that is needed, but not a fact more.

Yet often we dismiss information that turns out to be crucial to understanding a situation or solving a problem. The reader may be a juror in the Patriarchal Storytelling style, but the author is the judge who often rules that certain information is to be kept away from the jury.

They may all agree to convict based on the facts given, but had they been privy to one of the excluded pieces, would have exonerated the person in a heartbeat.

The Wizard of Oz is a peculiar story where the main villain — the Witch of the West is vilified, even though she has a legitimate grievance. Her heart is heavy for a very good reason, but the Patriarchal style dictates that she be fed to the dogs as the juror readers cheer her demise.

However, in the excellent movie Kill Bill, we have a righteous reformed villain who is now a heroine out to right several horrendous wrongs, yet one of her righteous actions tragically scars and alters the life of an innocent, yet the heroine is fully aware of this and tells the victim that she will be there when she is ready to avenge her own suffering.

It is rare that protagonists are aware of the scales of Anubis, and for the most part, the ones who are happen to be anti-heroes who have the most leeway in a Patriarchal Style.

But the Matriarchal Style allows any character to be aware and extends the courtesy to the readers who still remain jurors, but ones who are given the freedom to be detectives as well: they are allowed to find additional information about characters before rendering their verdicts.

In my case, I write interconnected short stories, books, and novellas through A Dangerous Woman Story Studio. Here, even seemingly minor characters in one story or series may be headlining characters elsewhere. The reader is free to go beyond the boundaries to discover the truth about characters. They are free to play detective and discover more as they branch out to other stories, even if they at first appear to be unrelated.

In my book *Dr. Verity Lake’s Journey of a Thousand Revelations*, the book has place holders for eleven short stories that dovetail with the main book. They come from different series, but each short tale offers more clues for the literary sleuth.  

But these eleven short stories are no ordinary ones: each one can be read on their own without the reader ever reading any other story. They are standalone and are complete.

They can also be read as part of another series, such as It Must Be Sunday, The Detective, or even The Miss Holly Lake Mysteries. You need not ever read The Journey of a Thousand Revelations to enjoy any of the series. They tell readers a different story and the facts in these tales will be interpreted in a different way.

But readers of the book can read them all and suddenly, characters’ motives and mind sets seem strikingly differently, bringing a new life and perspective on the book. As a juror detective, the reader can rescue hearts from the Jaws of Ammit and learn to see characters and situations in different ways.

The Matriarchal style gives both the author and reader more freedom to explore our ideas of weighing characters. We do not have to react to a character’s actions or words, but reflect. Do we have everything we need to know?

What if that’s all the information I want and am satisfied with my interpretation of the story?

With the Matriarchal style, the choice is truly yours just as the author is given the space, time, and freedom to unfold stories in new and innovative ways.

In any case, the Anubis feather flies off the scales and becomes a quill for an author to write without judgement, learning to appreciate all the unexplored facets of human beings as he or she revisits characters to add exciting new layers and outcomes.