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Archive for June, 2010

Learning a New Concept

From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

June 30

“Learning a New Concept”

As adult learners, we sometimes think we’ve become saturated, maybe even smothered by too much knowledge. We listen with a jaundiced mind, absolutely certain we already know whatever is going to be said, then —BAM- a concept hits our intellect. We are stunned, awe-struck, disbelieving. We must carefully examine the concept in our OWN context, our own writing process. We twist and turn it, trying to fit it into the intellectual puzzle we’ve already created in our mind.

In the midst of trying to make the new concept “fit” we encounter the second phase of discovery: this concept is an entirely NEW way of looking at our process, be it related to our day-to-day life, our “real” job in life, relationships, or —Whoa, Baby- our creativity, our storytelling, our manipulations of words and images. This concept forces us to think about whatever in a totally new way.

At this point Creatives enter the application stage, racing, falling, ignoring all else to put the concept to work. Sometimes the old methods are shoved aside for the sake of this new understanding. A while later, little nuggets of doubt begin to grind away until the initial euphoria wears down. The careless writer will give up on the new concept when it creates dissatisfaction. What a mistake!

This is the point the devout professional experiences a final jolt of realization: the new concept CAN work, only it must become part of the professional’s unique way of thinking. If the writer cannot incorporate the new concept, it should be abandoned for what works, for what gets words on paper and relates images to the reader’s soul. But most wise and meticulous professionals will practice the new concept until it is an indistinguishable cog in the wheel of their personal process. (Example: Beginning-Middle-Ending structure and Character Profiling).

So, the next time you encounter a new concept, don’t scoff. Take it home, examine it, try it out. You may find a rough process smoothed due to this new concept. You may just find you are on a perpetual learning curve. At this moment in time, my process works for me, but I just encountered a —BAM- new concept explained by another professional, an educator and practitioner with more expertise. I think I am smart enough to give it a try.

 Gosh, I hope I am still “giving new concepts a try” when I’m 103!

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From A Writer’s Year by Sally J. Walker

June 23

“Destiny and Serendipity in Fiction”

Serendipity is defined as “the faculty for making desirable discoveries by accident.” Destiny is defined as “the predetermined, usually inevitable or irresistible course of events.” Personally, I see “predetermined,” “inevitable” and “irresistible” as suggestively similar yet totally different qualifications.
My point for this discussion is that writers can formulate character destiny but need to AVOID the coincidence of serendipity. It is a given that fiction is a lie, an untruth, a convoluted web or matrix of consequences that didn’t happen. The writer is working to convince the reader of the POSSIBILITY that the story could have happened, the characters could have existed, the thoughts and feelings could have evolved in that manner.

So, a writer needs to formulate the destiny of the thing, but never ever set up the coincidence of serendipity, the accidental discovery that caused the resolution. The reader will see it as a contrivance the lazy writer created to “hurry things along.” You are already telling lies to the reader so make every effort to be the most logical, convincing liar you can be! Yes, serendipity happens in real life, but that’s REAL life. You are creating fiction, a lie. Real life is NOT the point!

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