This week: Writing the Profound FictionEdited by: Joy
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“Writing isn't about making money, getting famous, getting dates, getting laid, or making friends. In the end, it's about enriching the lives of those who will read your work, and enriching your own life as well….I want to make you laugh or cry when you read a story . . .or do both at the same time. I want your heart, in other words.”
Stephen King, On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft
“If you're doing it right... you should feel while you're doing it that you're revealing a little too much of yourself.”
“I can't write to please everyone, but someone, somewhere will be touched if I put my heart into it.”
“I am broken the way most writers are, stories leaking through the cracks.”
“Stories are the collective wisdom of everyone who has ever lived....Your job is to let people know that everyone shares their feelings--and that these feelings bind us. Your job is a healing art, and like all healers, you have a responsibility. Let people know they are not alone.”
Brian McDonald, The Golden Theme: How to Make Your Writing Appeal to the Highest Common Denominator
Hello, I am Joy , this week's drama editor. This issue is about writing profound stories.
Thank you for reading our newsletters and for supplying the editors with feedback and encouragement.
Welcome to the Drama newsletter
A fictional story is made up of premise, characters, theme and its moral arguments, plot, setting as to story world and time, scenes, dialog, sequence, revelations, and symbols. These story elements form a system to work in cooperation with one another.
Running concurrently through all or some of these elements, intense moments exist to give readers a form of knowledge about the story. This is because all stories are a form of communication to express the dramatic code, which asserts the idea that humans can become--psychologically, socially, or morally--better, worse, or different versions of themselves.
As such, those intense moments of knowledge can be emotional or they exist to encourage serious thought. The emotional part is when readers both feel with the characters or they relive the life in the story as the author tells it because, emotion, motivation, actions, and reactions mostly come from the characters. The thinking part has to do with figuring out what the author is hiding inside the puzzle of the story.
As an example, let’s look at Bronte’s Jane Eyre since it is one of the best-known classics. The main character here is plain, not popular, and has a lowly status after being abandoned by her family. Still, her ability to find true love inside a difficult life gives the readers a sense of hope for themselves. Jane Eyre’s loving and forgiving nature is yet another quality of her personality. Add to this--in direct contrast to who Jane is--Rochester, the quirky and tortured male lead who could do anything to be with Jane, and you have the emotional storms ready to play havoc, enhanced by the gothic background and other components.
Whether emotional or pertaining to thought, these significant intense aspects make an already good story better; they make it great and timeless. Such a story enters the deepest levels of our psyche and nourishes us. Yet, how do we accomplish this feat, if we can accomplish it at all?
First, we need to realize that such intense moments in a great piece of fiction is not shown in only one place of the novel or any other fictional piece. Rather, they form a vein-like structure to affect all its areas, just like the nervous system of the human body.
Second, after plotting the story, we may need to build an infrastructure of such moments that support the theme and its moral arguments. Before designing the infrastructure, however, knowing the plot’s goal and its curves and twists can help.
This, however, is not an easy thing to do and requires much thought even before putting the first word down. This, I believe, can’t be done in a short time, such as during the NaNo month. As an aside, some NaNo work is very good but only after several later revisions through which some intensity might be inserted. In other words, intense structural work is needed in order for the novel to be more than readable or good enough. In addition, if you have plotted well and designed an emotional or philosophical infrastructure in the beginning, during the second and later rewrites, excess parts of the novel are much easier to find and take out.
Third, usually the beginning of the novel or the first chapters carry the presentation or the hint of those intense moments. The opening scenes, therefore, should be constructed with much care and attention to the story’s tone and voice.
Again usually, when a novel starts well, it ends well. For this reason, seasoned authors write and rewrite their first chapters over and over, after the first draft is finished. It is also true that some very good authors do not plan before starting to write, but they do an immense amount of work afterwards.
I can certainly understand those who say that too much planning kills the enthusiasm because I used to be a pantser myself. I admit it is a lot more fun to just sit at the keyboard, hit the buttons, and pray for the life of whatever is born, but this doesn’t work well for writers with a limited time when one wants to do a decent job since perfection is rarely accomplished in a short time.
For further study, I suggest you take a timeless novel with high quality and analyze its emotional infrastructure as you read it. After all, to write well, we all need to read well.
Until next time!
Harry Potter, anyone?
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This Issue's Tip: For making your story appeal to the readers, ask yourself this question: Is this storyline unique enough to interest many people and not only me?
Feedback for " Moral Argument through Dialog"
This was powerful!! Your examples were enlightening, and struck straight to my heart. I need to find that verbiage to give to my characters so they have more angst. Thanks for this NL. I'm saving it.
Thank you! I am glad you liked the newsletter.
An item submitted to this newsletter by Viji
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