Wednesday, March 09, 2005

Feet of Clay

In her list of Ten Things to Help With Novel Plotting, Paperback Writer has a link to this page. Thanks, PBW for a great resource list!

Jungian Novel Writing: a Mythological Approach to Story Telling: that's an attractive concept for me. I believe that all story telling is mythmaking. Writers create and re-create our culture's myths constantly. We dream, and we tell our dreams to others so they can learn to better understand the reality we share. I haven't had a chance to explore the rest of this site yet, but it's on my Favorites list.

Two things I wanted to say about this article in particular. First, it's a great introduction to some basics of novel structure. I have read an awful lot over the years about the "story arc", but this is the first time I've ever actually seen this concept illustrated. While I think this author's approach is a little simplistic (hook, first plot point, mid-novel reversal, second plot point, resolution), he has given me something I can latch on to and use as a fundamental template while I'm feeling my way through the darkness of my first novel. He also stresses the concept of Premise very hard. By starting from a 3-word premise statement and working upward, I can keep the development and structure under control and maintain an overview of the story. I was working in a somewhat similar fashion already, so the validation helps.

Second, this article really points out the dangers in self-publication. Mr. Sheppard probably whould have proofread a little more carefully or asked a friend to proofread for him. The article is sprinkled with distracting statements like:

"Premise is the Rosette Stone for decoding the entire idea and getting it into the form of a novel." Would that refer to the stone tablet unearthed by Napoleon's army near Rosetta, Egypt?

"Any event that sticks in your mind does so for a reason, and that reason is that it means something to you. What, you may not quiet be able to verbalize, but it does." As a librarian, I'm all for verbalizing quietly, but I don't quite catch the drift here.

This is a very good introduction to novel plotting for rank amateurs such as myself, but a little bumpy to read.

Musical musings

While reading this article and the one on "The Four Point Plot Line", also on Paperback Writer's list, I was struck by the similarities between novel structure and the Classical 4-movement symphonic structure. I have long been fascinated by the similarities and differences between writing and music. This came about when I first read Godel, Escher, Bach: an Eternal Golden Braid by Douglas Hofstadter. It is still one of my favorite books and an eternal gold mine of illumination and steak-and-potatoes food for thought.

Hofstadter mainly explored fugues and canons, and I have plans to write short stories in these forms at some point when I have the skill. "Fugue in the Key of Shadows" has been on my idea list for several years, now. One day, I'll get up the nerve to start.

A parting shot from the distant past

"Goodnight, Mrs. Calabash, wherever you are!"

I have no idea why that drifted up. I'm not sure I want to know.


At 3:05 PM, Blogger Debra Young said...

I discovered this site also through PBW and it's great, but yeah, a little proofreading would have smoothed the bumps. The sections on Chapters and Research are helping me work through ALS. I found the section on Research particularly enlightening as a map and as a cornucopia of thought. d:)


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