This week: The Objective What? Edited by: I like big books #2233315
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The majority of writers, even new ones, have heard the axiom "show don't tell". It's important because it draws your readers into the story and makes them feel as if they're experiencing the same thing right next to your characters. The artistic device known as an 'objective correlative' is a perfect tool to expand on that rule. It was used most notably by T.S. Eliot in 'Hamlet and His Problems,' as he said:
“The only way of expressing emotion in the form of art is by finding an ‘objective correlative’; in other words, a set of objects, a situation, a chain of events which shall be the formula of that particular emotion; such that when the external facts, which must terminate in sensory experience, are given, the emotion is immediately evoked.”
According to LitReactor here is the translation:
...the idea is to turn an object, event or character in the story into a translating mechanism that poses some greater question that’s not directly on the page. The qualities or questions these objects evoke aren’t intrinsic to their make or design; they’re deliberately put there by the author, infused by circumstance, description and typically lots of repetition. By repeatedly invoking objects that correspond with the circumstance of the story, the reader is eventually brought to accept their being as something greater than the sum of their parts, and their presence serves as a sort of bridge that brings the reader to accept a larger, thematic meaning in the work.
Better? It's still not exactly crystal clear, is it? I like to explain things through my love for movies. One of the best explanations I saw was as a tool used in films through music and lighting to evoke emotion. Think of the music in scary movies, or during chase scenes. They don't have to tell you their characters are scared. Why? Because they show you and make you feel their fear and panic. They are using the same technique, only in a motion picture.
Yes, before you ask, this is similar to metaphor but expanded. Another thing this technique reminds me of is the chart with all the faces and asks you to choose which one is happy and which one is sad, etc. They aren't labeled obviously, so you have to look to the emotion they're showing in their expressions to decide. Using this technique when you write, you have to paint emotional pictures with your words.
If you, as a writer, wish to create an emotional reaction in the audience (and who doesn't?), you must find the proper combination of images, objects, or description to evoke the emotion you're looking for. You won't find the emotional reaction in one object, one image, or even one particular word. Instead, you must find the objective correlative by using the correct combination of these and create the emotional response you desire.
For those of you that think this may not be important, consider this. One of the most highly regarded films in history, Citizen Kane, is full of objective correlative; the puzzle, the snow globe, and, of course, Rosebud. For those of you that aren't as familiar with that film, there are plenty of examples. One is the volleyball in the Tom Hanks film Castaway. Screenwriter William Broyles Jr. and director Robert Zemeckis knew the enormous emotional impact it would have when Hanks was lost at sea and is so lonely he creates a companion out of a found volleyball by painting a face on it and naming it Wilson. Now that you know what it is, you'll see objective correlative in many places.
Write and Review on! ~ Brooke
"Eliot’s dictum about the objective correlative has often been quoted but rarely analysed. This book traces the maxim to some of its sources and places it in a contemporary context.".
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When I first realized that something was wrong, it was when I jolted awake to the screams of my fellow passengers. As my sleep-fogged mind raced to rip me into awareness of my situation, my blurred vision showed me the white-knuckles, gritted teeth, and clenched-shut eyes of my neighbor. Still struggling to make sense of what I was hearing and seeing, I looked out the window. The same instant that I registered the snow-covered forest racing up towards us was the same moment that I felt my waist straining against the seat-belt. It's thin nylon strap all that kept me from sliding forward onto the seat before me. I only had time to feel the very beginning of panic before a sound like a million pages being torn in half assaulted my ears. My eyes shut reflexively, and then it was as if I had never woken up at all.
When next I came to awareness, the world was suffused in shades of orange and pink. I woke to the sound of wind blowing through the snow-weighted boughs. Soft thumps and shuffles as dry snow sloughed from the pines. The only other sound was a quiet, low roar that came from somewhere out of sight.
Peeking out into the silent hallway she saw no one around, and crept out the door in her pajama bottoms and sleep shirt. The vending machine was just around the corner from her room, and in the quiet hall of floor 7 she could already hear its ominous hum resonate in the air. One of the neighbouring rooms had its door ajar ever so slightly, but she paid no mind to letting the tenant know or shut it herself in passing.
When she rounded the corner Anne discovered that the halls were not entirely abandoned. A man of at least 6'5” was inserting change into the machine. He pressed a button and clunk clunk slam, he reached down for his drink. He held the cold can to his eye and turned towards Anne. They both just stood in silence for what seemed like minutes, but in reality were closer to seconds. The man in his brown leather jacket and white shirt broke the silence first.
“Hey there,” he said with a warm smile. He moved the can to reveal a dark bruised spot above his right eye, “Lost a fight with an end-table,” he laughed.
Anne put on a fake smile, and stepped toward the machine. The man stepped back but did not leave, though she was wishing he just would. She placed one of the dollar bills in her hand into the machines bill slot, but it was quickly rejected.
Grief is a unique creature. It visits us all in different ways and in different times with varying intensities. Some of us grieve alone while others seek to grieve in groups. I always found my grief increased exponentially in the company of others, while it was just present with a sharpness when I grieved alone. I think that is why I always sought to be away from others during periods of mourning.
As painful as my own loss felt, I could not bear the wall of pain that would come down on me at wakes or in support groups. I cringed at the words of encouragement that "with time and God, all would be healed." While I understood the sentiment, I couldn't quite grasp the concept the well-wisher was pushing upon me.
I huddled in the darkest part of the closet, afraid to breathe for fear of making a sound, trying to figure out how I'd gotten myself into this mess.
It started out like any other fall night, nothing special, just another Thursday night. The starter on my old Pontiac was on the fritz, so I caught a ride to the Wayside Inn. It was on the other side of town, but Thursday is Ladies Night, so I felt compelled to make an appearance.
It turned out to be a slow night, nothing much of interest and I was not what the ladies in attendance were looking for. I ran into Charlie Brooks and a couple of his buddies. We shot some pool and told each other the lies we had hoped would impress the pants off of some member of the softer gender. Around midnight, I had heard enough bull and was about to get a cab and call it a night. Before I could make the call, Charlie caught me and said he had heard about a house party not too far from the bar. I really was not ready to go to bed, so I hopped into the car with the rest of his posse.
Excerpt: (This excerpt is very short because the story is very short.)
Mike and Steve met me at Olive Garden for lunch. We all noticed a pretty girl sitting alone and decided to introduce ourselves. With three guys and just one girl, Mary, the conversation soon became competitive.
This is my fantasia, my continent of endless euphoria
My wondrous, magical emporium
Welcome to the galaxies residing behind my eyes
The utopia existing outside of space and time
Where auroras scorch the purple sky
And I have the power to hold their light
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I received some feedback to my last newsletter [#6828] "Reviewing Survival Guide" and I'm proud to share it with you.
From J. Thayne
On the topic of receiving criticism (especially of the technical sort), I think it is also important to take into consideration (as the author) how much proofreading you've subjected your piece to. If you have just finished writing it, read through it once, and think everything is fine...look again. About 15 more times, in fact.
I often proofread my stories at least three times before uploading, and still get reviews that point out errors and misspellings. I'm utterly flabbergasted that such a glaring mistake made it through my thorough checks. ;)
Even days later, I'll check for a mentioned mistake, and find another just a paragraph or two away, which by this time has been subjected to at least six or seven re-readings. "Time is the healer of all things," and that includes your submissions. Don't expect any piece to be perfect as soon as you upload it.
I couldn't agree more. :) I find it startling when I miss something too since they always seem so easy to find in someone else's writing. Go figure. Thank you for writing in!
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