Monday, February 28, 2011

Crafting in Dreams

In crafting a narrative dreams can be elemental for the author, the characters and even the premise of the tale.

In countless instances authors have cited dreams as the instrumental step in crafting their best work. The author assembles a narrative from the various scenes that have come to them while sleeping. The dreams come together as a road map with each of the scenes as pit-stops along the journey. An entire outline for a narrative born from nothing more than dreams.

Often when an author hits writer's block they turn to dreams as a method to combat their blockage. Every dream affording the writer a new component to a story. How many narratives are born of the restless imaginations of sleeping authors?

Dreams are not limited to the inspiration of writers to crafting narratives but dreams can also provide insight and even motivation for characters within the narrative. Dreams allow characters to embrace different aspects of their personalities that they many not show otherwise. Just as well characters can find motivation within their dreams. Characters can reason out elements to the narrative or even have an epiphany regarding the events so far.

Dreams can be utilized to develop characters and explore motivations or even desires however, the ability to influence plot remains one of the greatest uses of dreams in narrative. Characters can become delusional with waking dreams. Entire segments of the plot can be erased as nothing but dreams. Using dreams as a core element in a narrative can allow dramatic and unexpected changes within the tale. Much as Lewis Carrol explored the depths of philosophy through a dramatic and symbolic world a writer can twist the very world to suit the narrative.

Through dreams authors can free their imaginations from everyday conventions and craft wholly unique narratives. Whether its the sculpt of the plot or the manipulation of characters and worlds to convey the narrative, dreams will always remain the most powerful device in a writer's kit.

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Attaining Direction

A narrative is an assemblage of concepts that the creator wishes to convey within the confines of a world.

Development of the primary concept begins with establishing the supporting elements of both characters and conflict. These elements become extensions of the original idea that permit the author to explore different aspects that would not have been possible otherwise.

Through characters the author can explore the emotions and thoughts that surround a founding idea. In every action, thought and emotion the characters can reveal a different perspective. Characters are principles and perspectives through which the author can explore. A nyctophobic character that fights through the darkness to save another can emphasize the primary concept that a person can do anything to save another more than attempting to describe the concept.  

Just as characters can emphasize the emotions around a singular premise, the conflict that drives these characters can identify aspects of the idea. Through conflicts the characters can be tested and emotions elevated to identify the concept behind each character.

Every narrative is born of a founding idea that the author wishes to approach and it is every subsequent element that they explore that allows them to develop the primary concept. 

Monday, February 21, 2011

Setting in Tone

Style, Tone, Distinction...

As with any project, the ability to find distinction for a narrative lies in the assemblage of elements and how they are woven together. Where a rising wave of events can sweep up the reader and the style of the story can enhance the characters to provide distinction, the tone of a narrative can determine if that first chapter is finished.

The tone of a narrative is at its very essence the attitude of the project. An attitude that is reflected in prose, setting and even the thoughts of characters.

Prose is set in such a manner to reflect near perfect grammar and eloquent phrasing that can easily be consumed by an audience. Often overlooked is the attitude with which the prose is crafted. The words may be right, the grammar perfect but how is the message said? Is there a cynical undertone to the prose? A tired exposition? The tone of a narrative not only reflects the story but the creator's attitude towards the project.

Narrative tone can also be reflected in the thoughts of the characters. It becomes more than crucial to understand the psychology of the characters within the narrative. How a character views their world can set the entire tone for a scene or narrative. The attitudes of characters reflect the premise and their situation. When a characters' attitude is derived from the the creators concept and not the psychology it detracts for the audience.

While the attitude of author and character needs to reflect the premise of the narrative, the actual settings within the narrative can further the tone. Whether a constant rain or thunderstorm each can be symbolic of a dark tumultuous premise. Abandoned buildings can reflect sadness, isolation and  stress. Every setting within the narrative reflects the tone as a psychological element.

Every narrative is reflected in the creators' tone, their attitude. It is within that tone an audience can decide to keep reading or drop the story.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Crafting the Style

As a project comes to life out of the emptiness of a blank page the creator is challenged to produce a work that will resonate within the psyche of readers and define itself as a unique perspective.

Out of the mountains of narratives that are produced, every reader has a desire to discover something that stands out. 

While there are many elements a writer can choose to emphasize to impose distinction on their creation, among character, premise and emotion the strongest can be the simplest. Style. 

When looking at the most distinctive stories the first thing that strikes the reader is the style of the narrative. Is the main character a trench-coat wearing detective? Are they a sharp dressed executive? A goth girl & sassy witch? Do they ride the bus or drive a Porsche? Do they live in an apartment or a motel?

Every element that the writer expands upon further distinguishes the world and characters. The objects and settings around the characters become extensions of the characters. If a character needs to be revealed as resourceful and a bit 'rough around the edges' then it can be described through segments throughout the narrative or it can be explained in a battered pick-up truck that they drive.

Genres are born of distinction, unique styles that a number of writers manage to perfect. Once the genre is created it becomes subject to saturation and what was once distinct becomes the standard cliché. Rather than rising to distinction the narratives fall to the wayside adding to the mountains of projects. 

While every narrative has the ability to rise from the mountains of material, it is style that can elevate a project and engross a reader.

Sunday, February 13, 2011

Writing the Tide

As every tide has an ebb and flow so does the narrative. It is upon the writer to establish a strong tide that the reader can ride to it's inevitable resolution.

Narrative pacing is no different than waves in the ocean, each consists of a multitude of variables that determine the shape, size and power of that wave. A simple change in one variable and the wave is broken, the narrative falls.

At the core a wave has two primary components; the crest and the trough. In narrative guise these are the conflict and the resolution. The power of these elements is what will establish the narrative to the reader, drive them to pick up the book or pass it by in the store.

Diving deeper we find that both the crest and the trough have multiple sub-elements that create the illusion of two solid elements.

While the crest is the core conflict, it is also born of three driving forces; the strength of force, the distance crossed (the Fetch) and the duration.

Establishing the strength of force, the motive, for a character establishes how grand the wave will rise to for the conflict. Was a loved one murdered? Did a husband cheat? This component will establish just how strong the conflict will resound through the narrative.

The Fetch or distance crossed will echo the events that the character endures to reach the conflict. As the events unfold there is a steady climb towards the conflict with each piece playing an integral role in the escalation.

As the motive establishes the conflict and the Fetch unfolds the events that build the conflict, the duration of the events can often cause a mis-step. Too few events and the motive loses impact, too many and the conflict will be weakened, hidden among the events of the Fetch.

When the elements merge together the rise to the inevitable crest, a powerful and poignant moment that establishes the strength of the narrative. As the the narrative reaches its crest it begins it's descent into the ultimate resolution or trough.

As in any resolution there is the descent from the crest and the impact. The descent creates the shape of the resolution. It blends together the events that led to the conflict and prepares the reader for the impact. Providing that the components shaped a strong wave, the impact will leave the reader with a satisfying conclusion as the wave breaks upon the shore. Just as readily the reader will anticipate the next wave as the wave withdraws in preparation for the next.

A strong narrative tide has the ability to carry your reader through or leave them adrift.

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Crafting the Abstraction

There are no shortage of ideas for stories nor limitations on possibilities for how a writer can craft one.

Every story begins with the premise, the concept that the writer wishes to convey. The process of exploring that concept is an abstraction on the part of the writer. It is taking that premise and deriving the base traits. At the core, a premise is a character, their motivation, the emotion and the steps taken for that character to evolve.

The plot is sculpted with care to gradually reveal the premise to the audience however, sculpting the plot of a project can be one of the most deceiving tasks in all of writing. While some writers have the ability to apply their stream of consciousness to keyboard and attain a desired result, for the remaining 99% of writers it means your third grade teacher was right. Create an Outline.

Creating a plot is no different than a sculptor taking chisel to stone. The idea is in place and it is now just a question of what steps are needed to make it tangible?

After establishing the motivation for your characters it becomes a matter of deciding what conflicting emotions will represent that character best within the premise of the project and narrative structure. It is finding the one emotion and countering it with the opposite in rising measure through the plot.

Narrative structure can be divided into five acts that are integral to establishing drama. These include the Exposition, Rising Action, Climax, Falling Action and finally the resolution.

Each act can be defined by a series of moments that influence the base emotions. Establishing how the base emotions evolve and integrate with each subsequent act further strengthens the overall premise.

Writers are sculptors who use words to craft a world from the void of a blank page.~

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Writing the Instigation

Instigation, inception, opening, the beginning.

The beginning of any project is also the crux of the project. The first words, first sentence, paragraph, even chapter become the measure by which a project is evaluated. While it is important to consider the inception of a story from the carefully chosen words used to open it, it is even more important to consider it from the internal perspective.

When a story opens it is with characters and most importantly a singular moment that is responsible for instigating the story. Concepts may breathe life into a story, give it a theme and purpose but when examining the story from within it is important to identify the true instigation for the story.

The characters in a story have lives that begin at birth and end with their deaths. It is the writer's decision to choose the moment a that is the opening of a story. Where does an ordinary character's life diverge to the point where their life merits a story? Is it important to show how normal their life is through fifty or sixty pages of normalcy before the event? Or is it more important to start with the moment that instigates the story and move forward? 

First words are chosen and continuously refined but what about the moment? What about the instigation of the story? The moment can be defined as the 'hook' for your audience but what makes it worthy of note in your character's lives?

Opening with your main character in the middle of a crime scene is more poignant than having them in a diner drinking coffee.  

When you present a story it's no different than placing your character on a precipice. Your audience will want to know where they go from there and then ask how they got up there in the first place.

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