Monday, May 2, 2011

Abstracting the Threads

Paths, lines, strands, threads....

In every narrative there is a primary premise that the creator wishes to convey but a narrative is not confined to the limits of its creator. A narrative is a web of lives, individuals with their own motives, aspirations and obligations.

As a writer begins to define their piece, they reveal the individuals that are involved in the primary premise. The main individual who the audience will follow is brought forward and the writer gradually exposes the intricacies of the individual's life. Their job, aspirations, personality, psychology even their pets are introduced to give the audience a clear portrait of them.

Revealing the individual's portrait in such detail assists the audience to sympathize and ultimately identify with the individual. This may be a conscious effort on the part of the creator however, this portrait is needs to be created with such detail because it will be the foundation of the primary premise. This one individual's life is the core on which the story rests. While the primary premise will eventually consume their life it is important to note that their life is it's own unique thread.

Every individual is their own unique thread, their own life, and as each is introduced to their place in relation to the main individual their thread is woven into the whole. As the individuals are introduced and new dynamics explored, new aspects of the primary individual are revealed to paint a truer portrait. Each strand, each life that is revealed is woven together with the primary thread to strengthen the whole.

While many writers distinguish plots and sub-plots that are woven into a story it is imperative to identify that every individual, every life has it's own plot, thread, and a fate. It is the act of twining the threads of fate that drives a story forward.

In crafting a story are you 'adding sub-plots' or are you twining the fates?


Amber said...

That makes it more intricate to twine the fates, instead of the dry intonation of a plot and sub-plot. This would seem to be more intimate and show a deeper understanding of the character, which in turn would make for a better story. The reader would feel as if they were there with them, as if they knew them.

Giving love and nurturing our characters will come through on the page to our readers. It all makes for a more solid, detailed, and believable story.

Natalie C. Markey said...

I use my sub-plots to further advance my story and worldbuilding as well as introduce entertaining characters. Sometimes I find that I get more into my sub-plots than the main plot! It's amazing how sub-plots can really advance a story. Take 'The Mortal Instruments' series by Cassandra Clare. Magnus Bane, a secondary character is regarded as a favorite character by many.

PW.Creighton said...

Amber, thanks for the quick comment. That is exactly what we are all after and we certainly see a difference based on how a writer perceives the elements of their piece.

Natalie, thanks for the really quick comment. Sub-plots are imperative to how successful a piece can be but if we look at them from this perspective a piece can be ever the stronger. Each sub-plot is actually a main plot for that character, that individual. If we treat it as such and weave it with the main character's thread we see a complete and solid piece instead of a plot and sub-plots. Threads of fate for each character... :-)

Laura Pauling said...

I hope it seems intertwined when I add subplots. I think when a story is written so that every character acts as if he/she is the main character it helps them seem fully developed.

PW.Creighton said...

laura, that's the hope and the best we can ever accomplish. If we view each character as an individual with their own psychology, goals and motivations that crosses paths with the other characters it's far more believable. We're simply sampling a segment from their lives. Thanks for the comment!

Michele Shaw said...

One of the best compliments I have received on my ms (from an agent no less! Yay!) was that every character major and minor had a purpose and their threads were well drawn, adding to the whole. Wow, I just about flipped because bringing it all together is so hard. It's what we strive for, and sometimes we regretfully must cut characters who just aren't pulling their weight. It's such a delicate balance, and I'll never stop searching for that magic in each story I write. Here's hoping we all get there! Your insights a step in the right direction for me:)

Jill Kemerer said...

Excellent thoughts here. If we only see our characters as a tool to move the story forward, our readers can tell. It's so important to write complex, real characters. Great post!

PW.Creighton said...

Michele, thanks for the comment. It really is about that 'magic' in the story. I think believability stems from realizing that our characters are 'real' people with lives of their own. Taking that approach makes it more believable for your audience. Heh, glad to know my ramblings are useful ;-)

Thanks for stopping by Jill! Absolutely, if we view them as 'real' then the audience will perceive that. Our writing, our story is just taking an excerpt from their life.

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