Some proclaim that writers descend into alternate realities, only returning once perfection has been seized. Others swear that they have seen scriveners summon Mephistopheles by tossing bone dice across blank pages. These myths are reinforced by the writer’s enigmatic ability to disappear for hours and days on end, returning with a work of creativity that has been seemingly gathered from the caliginous reaches of inner-space.
Admittedly, I enjoy the status of selcouth literati as I’m sure doctors and astronauts delight in the reverence of their chosen professions, yet as these careers take years of arduous training with specialized tools, so must creative writers learn to wield the tools of their craft. These basic tools, which serve as the implements for developing effective works, are placement, dynamism, conflict, and structure.
Placement entails thesensationsof sight, sound, smell, taste, and touch that form mental movies within the reader’s mind. As with dreams, which form images through the mind’s eye, writers must guide the reader’s sensorium.
Dynamism is the energy that keeps a reader’s attention. By using tight plot points, lively syntax, rounded characters, leaps of intuition, and paradigm shifts, the reader feels the momentum and is compelled to continue delving into the writer’s mind. The use of energetic words at the beginning and end of sentences reflect tempo, interest, and anticipation.
Conflict is the struggle and underlying tension that urges the reader to ask what will happen next. In all good writing, readers have something to wonder about. This juxtaposition of energy creates intrigue, though not confusion. In order to keep the reader from adjusting to the level of conflict, the intensities are varied in accordance with the placement. Dynamism is the result of modulatedconflict.
Structures exist in writing as in nature. Creative writing is layered upon subtle structures that, while unobtrusive, guide the reader through various insights. By building upon specific images, ideas, and words, the reader while conceptualize what the writer finds important while at the same time coming to conclusions of their own. It is through structure that a work takes on meaning.
These four basic elements are apparent in different types of writing. Those who refine their usage of these tools are capable of crafting works of praiseworthy depth and complexity.