Sheila's Motto

"Endeavor to enhance the lives of others through education and encouragement."

Saturday, May 21, 2016

Writing Techniques - Flow

There are times when aspects of the writing journey can be likened to the great outdoors which contains a myriad of living organisms.  My husband and I were hiking in the state of Colorado a few years back when we came upon the beautiful waterfall featured in the photo above.  I can remember standing very still for a period of time just listening to it and wondering where it ultimately flowed.  The sound of the crashing water echoed down the canyon for miles.  Suddenly, a chilly wind ushered in raindrops.  Our pace quickened as we worked our way down the mountain trail.  We were able to get inside our vehicle and roll up the windows just before the torrential downpour arrived.  Whew, saved by the hiking shoes on that one!

A manuscript, short story, poem or literary work can be analogous to a living organism in that it seems to have a mind of its own.  The flow of words from our spirit onto the keyboard or paper can be as gentle as a stream or as strong as the water flowing from the featured waterfall.  This corresponds to the rising and falling action within the piece.

During his retirement years, my father spent a lot of time in the high desert mountain regions.  He was intrigued by the intricate dams built by the beavers.  In some cases, these produced jams in the flows of rivers and streams, much to the dismay of farmers and ranchers.  Suffice it to say, it probably takes a lot more work to clear those obstacles than it does for those appearing in our manuscript.

It has been my experience that if I try to force or rush the words, they quickly become quite bellicose.  It’s as if they can speak directly to me and let me have a piece of their mind.  “I don’t want to go there today.”  “Why are you trying to make me do something I don’t want to do?”  “You are putting the cart before the horse on this one.” 

Let’s take a quick gander at the meaning of the word flow which is the action or fact of moving along in a steady, continuous stream.  That corresponds beautifully to what our literary goal should be which is to keep those words moving right along until the project is completed. 
If you are experiencing a “log jam” of sorts, talk to that literary piece and figure out where the blockages are located.  You might need to sleep on it overnight, but surely by the next morning the answer will have arrived.

I am enjoying penning fiction far more than I thought I would.  Once the characters are created, it seems as though they take on lives of their own.  One of my tasks is to follow them and find out where they are going.  Occasionally, we need to have a face to face meeting to decide whether or not their arcs are changing from flat, negative, or positive.  In addition, some of them might need to attend an AAM ~~ Attitude Adjustment Meeting.

After Jantzi’s Jokers, Book One of The Sabblonti Series, was published, I started to receive emails and written letters from readers expressing their concerns over the choices the main characters would make in Book Two.  One of the challenges in authoring fiction is keeping our readers happy, but I fully realize this is not entirely possible as some of them may not approve of the choices the characters have made or where the flow of words has taken them.  Welcome to Literary Land!

As a word of encouragement to writers on their writing journeys, if your flow isn’t flowing, have a heart to heart talk with it!

I would love to receive input from you as to methods you have implemented to keep your writing moving continuously.

Best wishes on your writing journeys and Write On!

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