Sunday, November 21, 2010
Journey's in Writing
In the book, The Writer's Journey: Mythic Structure for Writers, by Christopher Vogler, the author talks about the arch character types and the journey they go on. I have written about the way he works with plot in an earlier post, Journey's. In this way of plotting there are two important thresholds or climaxes. The first occurs when the main character leaves the "real world" or starting point of the story and becomes committed to the journey. Once the character has entered this domain he/she is tested and changed, finally to return back to the "real world" through the last threshold a having learnt something and become a different person. Of course there are mini thresholds in between. Definitely worth a read.
the Writer magazine and titled The Driving Force Behind Plot, by Robert Olen Butler, refers to this as yearning. In the article he talks about how what the character want drives the plot and mentions that this is what can make the difference between a story being just words or pulsing with life. He's totally right. In the article he gives examples of how to convey this yearning through writing.
And so it is these pieces which I need to figure out for each story I write. Sometimes this means writing a whole lot of empty words first, kind of like walking through a forest until I stumble upon the right path. In Times Heart, the YA novel I'm working on amongst other projects, I wrote a scene where Fabula (the main character) goes out in a fog to feed the chickens. The story droned on and on with out much life until I realized that he didn't want to be there. He wanted to find Old Rumier, his mentor, because he was worried about him. So, despite the danger of getting lost in the fog and all the difficulties he might face, he took off to do that and when he did the story came alive.
Tonight, as I sit and ponder which piece to work on and consider their many journeys, I realize some have similar threads. I wonder why we as writers are compelled these journeys which our characters are forced to embark on? And what compels us to write different stories on the same theme? It's almost like we are completing the same journey in many different lives (a sub theme which runs strongly in Robert Jordan's Wheel of Time series)? Are they a refection of the journeys we are each embarked upon or a way of expanding our understanding? Is it because we have an inherent need to explore the unknown or the need to pass on our experiences and lessons? Is it to document what people are living and experiencing today or is it larger, a need to evoke a change in thought - to enable others to see the world in a different light? What is it that drives us to write what it is we write?