Friday, 5 September 2008

Swelling the River

I'm sure you'll agree, there are plenty of these milestone moments for the writer: moments of clarity when yet more puzzle pieces fit together (and there is a veritable armada of pieces!). I call them blue banana moments.
I wrote of blue bananas some eighteen months back, of a desire to investigate, to poke at povs and pacing, to prod at characterisation and nvc, and so forth. Let's never forget, though, (and I suspect that I did) that these are simply tools.
Tools to what end?
The last 10,000 words have gone without a hitch, and have been extremely enjoyable to write.
What has inspired this transformation?
Clear scene structure derived from motivation: connecting every paragraph to either goal, obstacle or means; fixing the protag's motivation steadfastly at the centre of the novel.

Sure, each paragraph is chiselled with the tools, using each tool to bond and emotively engage the reader. But when the functionality of each scene is clear in the writer's head, everything else becomes a technique that may be chosen to extract the most from the scene's purpose.
It's a bigger picture.

Practically, what this meant to me was that every thread flowing parallel to the protag's motivation thread has now fed into that thread. The motivation thread takes precedence over everything, and everything feeds into it, like tributaries feeding into a river. And, as each tributary feeds into the river, the river grows and becomes more powerful. Some threads would not tally with the motivation thread, and so they have been cut. (Q. Why would a writer want to include a thread that makes no/very little impact on the protag's journey, especially when that thread could be replaced with one that does?)
Each confluence becomes a magical event. That thread which seemed so disparate - a capricious aside - suddenly transforms the protag's journey in some way at the moment it connects, perhaps as a reversal or a reveal. And the remainder of the journey will bear this thread, will be coloured by this silty union.


R1X said...


Long time no speaky.

Glad to see you're still moving the lawn of literature. I've been unable to commit to anything recently. I've lost the mojo completely - fear I think.

Fear that I'm wasting my time. But, time is time, I while it doesn't wait, I have all the time in the world.

Just checking in.

esruel said...

Hey, solvey! In any tale, there can be boring bits, bits that have no purpose, or bits that do have purpose, just they seem not to work, or to help. I've said it before, and I'll keep saying it: it's all the writer's fault. No amount of information or purpose is worth creating a thread that hangs, trails. The story belongs to the writer, so the writer must tie up everything, make sure of everything. Editing is the key. You gotta be the editor as well as the writer - and have other readers who can point things out, as my second chapter proved!

solv said...

Ah, I need to visualize things because I'm slow!
Seeing these threads as tributaries kinda helps me!
I had a few paragraphs which I used to feed the emotional topography - I guess they worked as tonal paragraphs. But I'm getting much tighter now!
Good to hear from you both. Hope it's happening for you!

esruel said...

This particular visualisation works, so I can be described as slow, too! I've always understood the main telling of the story as the river, with other smaller streams drifting in and out. The salient point being that they must serve a purpose, otherwise they will detract - distract - from the story itself. Editing always seems to be the key to resolving their importance.

solv said...

Ah, the problem here is the word 'purpose'.
Taking as read that everything serves a purpose, I'm now reconsidering the relevance of each purpose. For example, I introduced a character whose purpose was to add levity. It's a common archetype: a great example would be the bellboy in Pretty Woman. In this way, the 'purpose' of such a paragraph would be to mould the emotional topography, lifting the scene out of a negative state (such as an argument) into a positive state.
However, by injecting this character deeper into the heart of my protag's quest, I found that I could extract much more power from her.
It's the discussion that we never really got to grips with: What is important?
Perhaps we could speak of priorities - of purposes and higher purposes?: Everything serves a purpose, BUT a higher purpose flows into the protag's goal-orientated quest, swelling the river, maybe even altering its course.
I've designed a visual aid which I'm running by a few programmer chums. If I can find someone to knock this up for me, I think it will an amazing tool for us writerly folks!

esruel said...

After 'purpose' comes 'pace'. Each one modifying the other. The overriding factor being the river, of course.
This programming 'thing' you are doing sounds very interesting!

solv said...

I like your thinking! Nice one Esy.

oscuridad said...

Hey Solve, interesting stuff, and great food for thought. thought I'd drop by and say hello

solv said...

Hey Mr O! Super to hear from you again, and something of a coincidence: my son was leafing through a Spanish dictionary in Waterstones at the weekend and you were in there and I got to wondering about the old gang.
I do hope the world of writerly things is treating you well! As you can see, I'm still chasing my tail.

oscuridad said...

aren't we all. You're doing some interesting stuff here, really interesting. As for the old gang, more of a new gang these days. I'll drop by every now and then to say hello,

all the best