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Family and Friends is my everyday journal. Captain's Log is where I pontificate on religion and politics.

Friday, November 08, 2019

Full body writing method

Every writer has their own method and style of writing. Some need an outline, other freelance and just let the creative juices flow. Whatever floats your boat.

I'm not much for outlining. I don't do free form. I let the idea of a story grow in my imagination. I develop a plot, characters and conclusion before I type the first word. When I sit down and start working most of it goes out the window. The characters won't be pinned down. They take over. I write and write until the plot is finished. Once I have the plot nailed down then the work begins. I break down this process in what I call the full body.

 The skeleton: This is the plot of the story. What gets you from point A to point B. Without the plot no story it's just a mess with no structure. I've read good books from great writers who left out a coherent plot, but by and large I get bored with mere rambling or words for words sake. Sorry Sartre, but I'm not into No Exit. No matter how poetic or wonderful the words are put together, but they have to mean something. Those who love jazz may appreciate a singer making sounds instead of words, but not so good in books.

 Sinew: Description, this is the ligaments that control the skeleton, but they are thin and strong. Too much description and the story gets bogged down in fluff. Not enough and it's a blank canvass with stick people.
Muscle: Characters, not just the protagonist and villain, but all characters move the skeleton or plot. Well developed characters mean a well developed story. Does the reader identify with the hero or the villain? Is there a villain or is the protagonist fighting against nature and you're rooting for him or her to overcome all odds and weep when a character dies?

 Blood: The Theme! There has to be meaning in the story, a point, what the author wants the reader to feel or understand. Marvel and D.C. movies and tv shows may be all about action for action's sake, but a book has to give the reader a reason to devote their time to your words. Leave out the theme and you've got a corpse, not a living story. Have you every finished a book and thought, "Well that was a waste of time." No theme. In Shakespeare's words: Much Ado About Nothing.

 Flesh: Your words. How you use them. If the story is a comedy you have to write something funny. Horror uses different words to convey the sinister, the unexpected, the gross or horrible that will etch the scene into the readers minds for eternity. For romance are your words poetic and emotional? Historical do you use words taken from the time period and avoid modern slang or obscenities? How many books have you enjoyed just for the words and how they made you feel?
Careful with vocabulary. Don't try to be impeccably impressed with longitudnity, magnitudnity and importnitudnity of your own verbosity. At the same time don't insult your readers by writing down to them. Fine line here. 

 Breath: The setting: This is what gives life to your story. If it's historical did you research the time period to the last detail. No potatoes in Ancient Rome. Can you explain the time period and society? Science fiction do you know enough science to make it plausible? Horror can you make something ordinary scare people or do you need a haunted house? 


Berthold Gambrel said...

I love this metaphor for the writing process. "Sinew" in particular is a great way to think about description.

P M Prescott said...

Figured you'd be about the only one to leave a comment here. Glad you like it.