Thursday, May 22, 2014
“The fiction writer must take responsibility for choosing how the reader will experience the story, because the choices the writer makes will, according to Schorer, be the story’s meaning.” Jack Hodgins
The cause-effect structure decisions will impact your reader’s emotional experience. Hodgins says we are like floor designers who decide what kind of journey it will be. If we push our reader to a cosmetic counter via a fishmarket or a toy department, he says, we will leave quite a different impression. The writer needs to choose the techniques that will allow the strength of the story to unfold organically—unique to itself.
Do we know who the murderer is from the beginning and watch how the detective brings him to justice, like an Inspector Columbo? Or do we analyze and deduce and ponder along with a Miss Marple? Each style will provide a different perspective both emotionally and mentally. What meaning do we want to linger long after?
The structure choices run throughout each scene. Jordan E. Rosenfeld notes that each scene is to mark an experience and not a lecture. The emphasis of each aspect should reflect the intended design. Intention=impact.
A suspense scene should open with immediate concern for your character. Action scenes need to be quick and intense driven with a sense of urgency. A dialogue scene carries a main purpose of revealing character or plot or backstory. Are your characters going to argue, accuse, declare love, plead for forgiveness, or lay down a challenge?
Think of the timeless stories you have know since childhood. What makes them stick? The ebb and flow of drama and stillness? The cadence of the reader or protagonist breathing their fear or purpose into your own heart beating alongside each step they take?
Word choices, atmosphere, tone and pacing can all be influenced by mythic qualities of significance. Sometimes one word will be sufficient. Sometimes an entire scene or chapter needs to be painted with precise brush strokes.
What do you want the reader to experience? What need so to linger long after the final page? Those decisions bring about action with impact.
Share: What action by a key character in a book or movie have you always remembered? Why?
Read deep, marcy
Thursday, May 1, 2014
“The hero is “separated” from his or her common-day life and leaves to go on the hero’s journey: a journey of adventure, discovery, inner growth, and realization that will transform the hero forevermore.” James N. Frey (The Key)
The hero’s journey crosses genres, generations, fiction and non-fiction for these same reasons. We pick up a book to read because for a little while we desire to be separated from our everyday world, perhaps have a mini adventure dreaming of another place to be, or discover a new skill, grasp a new concept that brings us a light into our soul, and step back into our world renewed, refreshed and with a little more energy.
That is if the book we’ve been reading delivers what it promises.
And delivers it truthfully.
The desire for real potential—real fulfillment and emotions—starts young. Almost as if we are already hard-wired for a story that has meaning. If you have any doubts borrow a toddler and a stack of books. Watch when his eyes glaze over and he walks away perhaps making noise to drown out your voice, or she comes close, climbs into your lap, and almost puts her face in the book in an attempt to inhale it. The book might be written with excellence and beautiful to look at but if it doesn’t capture that child’s particular heart it is of no use.
Curiosity and comfort.
Challenge and conflict.
That can be honestly examined and provide a real experience, even when painful, especially in fiction.
For years I felt if I started a book I had to finish it. Now if I reach a point where it is pointless or repetitive or absurd I toss it. There are too many excellent books waiting to be read to waste time on poor quality. Or on a subject for which I have absolutely no interest in pursuing.
As writers we need to deliver potential that spills over into daydreaming and a sigh when the story ends. A romance where we are clapping for the happy couple, the mystery where we are relieved that justice has been done, the fantasy or sci-fi that opens us up into fresh perspectives, a memoir that bridges communication and understanding with life experiences we would never have, a devotional that honors God and brings us into closer communion. And of course a comedy that lightens our load as we recognize the need to be a little less serious about ourselves and laugh more.
Are you bored to tears writing a particular story? Then chances are you are only skimming the surface and have not dug down deep enough. The journey starts when you can’t keep yourself from writing it—even if no one ever reads it—because it comes out of your heart first.
Share: What potential ingredient must be in a novel for you to keep reading?
Read deep, marcy