Sunday, March 4, 2012

Establishing Style

Each and every composition is born of a unique idea that the creator desires to convey through their work. The idea, concept and overall composition may be unique; however conveying the distinctiveness of the piece can be one of the more difficult prospects.

Out of the more than 300,000 books published in the US each year, the difference between one composition and another can be as little as character names despite the unique idea that the creator originally had.

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The audience is often drawn to similar works and when one composition is difficult to distinguish from another on premise alone, the unique idea needs a strong means of conveying that distinctiveness. Adjusting tone, setting and specific details can take a composition from similar average work to something iconic.

Examining some of the most iconic media compositions, Burn Notice, MacGyver, Supernatural, X Files, Twin Peaks, The Matrix, TrueBlood, GhostBusters, The Shining, even James Bond it is apparent that each of these compositions established their distinctiveness through tone, setting and the manipulation of character details.

Adjusting the tone of the entire piece not only changes how characters perceive others and elements in the composition but it affects how the piece is perceived through the narrator and ultimately the audience's own perceptions. Changing the setting to something unique or even changing how the setting is perceived can establish a unique aspect that shifts the composition to something iconic. One of the most powerful means of establishing a composition's uniqueness can be through the details of the piece. Does the main characters wear expensive suits? Drive a classic car? Have an obsession with coffee?

When there are millions of different narrative compositions and the audience has a preference for things that are uniquely distinct but remarkably similar to what they are comfortable with, the struggle to be distinct becomes synonymous with Style. Even when the theme or concept is familiar establishing the uniqueness becomes a drive for the distinct style of the work.


Michele Shaw said...

So, true, PW. How many times do we read,"If you liked book x, you'll love book y!" as a promo? It's because when someone loves a book they always want to recreate that feeling and they're looking for the next book to give it to them. They tend to look in the same genre, but don't want the exact same book. We have to stick to our unique voice and hopefully give them a great read that stands on it's own:)

PW Creighton said...

Exactly Michele, the biggest difficulty is recognizing that someone wants something similar but unique. The only way to stand out, is to have something stylish. You're more apt to remember the story of the neurotic detective that is brilliant (Monk) than the brilliant detective alone.

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