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.~


Jill Kemerer said...

I love your comparison of writing to sculpting. One of my friends overwrites and chips away the unnecessary parts in revisions, while I always need to add words in revisions. Writing truly is an art.

Michele Shaw said...

I overwrite, same as Jill's friend, then burn off the fat. I also don't outline. I know, *gasp* heard around the world. I've tried, but can't seem to get anywhere with it. Sculpting is the perfect comparison for me. I chip, slash, and sometimes hammer until I get there!

PW.Creighton said...

Thanks for the comments! Yeah it is an art and just like any artist we each have a unique style whether it's detail oriented of Michelangelo or the gestalt of Jackson Pollock. Whatever your methods you always need to begin by picking up your tool be it a brush, chisel or our favorite pen.

Cheryl Reif said...

One author I admire--Julie Anne Peters--doesn't outline, but she *does* write the climax of her book first. Having a clear destination helps her get through to the end. I do outline...but that outline tends to change as I do the actual writing, because that's where I really get to know the characters and their motivations. I've given up trying to get everything figured out at the outset. I think writing is an inherently recursive process :). Nice post!

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