Wednesday, January 2, 2013

Writing Exercise #1

I am utilizing this blog to exercise my writing skills. This will be the first of many posts where I am simply writing out of my thoughts. In this case these will be thoughts born out of my writer's block. I am having difficulty -- or maybe doubt -- about my ability to write within the structure of a basic short story or trad. story structure.

To the best of my understanding this story structure should be made up of six sections. Let me see if I can relate these six in my own words.

Number 1: Background
Background is where the story sets tone, provide details et cetera. In this particular section of a story I should elaborate on characters and / or setting. This provides the reader with a context within which to place the subsequent elements of the story (#2, 3, 4 and 5).

Number 2: Conflict
Conflict is the initiation of the basic plot line or lines. The conflict makes no sense unless it involves the Background elaboration done in number one. In conflict the characters provided for in Background spring into action against one another. It seems, as I am writing this, several elements of writing are coming into focus. For example, the particular element that I am becoming aware of as I am writing this, is that the MOTIVES of the characters introduced in Background and put into action via Conflict should be apparent at this point. A character with no known motivation will seem mysterious. Perhaps there will be mysterious elements, but at least one participant's motivations should be explicity, otherwise the reader will have no reason to care.

Number 3: Complications
Complications are when the action and pressure are building. Complications are the rising action of the story. The Conflict, already in motion, is being built upon. Stakes are rising. Decisions are being made. Consequences are being postponed.

Number 4: Climax
The Climax is the full culmination of the buidling that has occurred during the Complications. It is here where the full result of the decisions made during the Complications occur.

* As an aside, I am intensely aware of a piece of writing advice I read somwhere. Paraphrasing: "Every sentence should explicate a character, piece of setting or advance the action / complication." This seems an important element for writing as the Six Elements are Macroscopic and also Microscopic in their scope.

Number 5: Falling Action / Consequences
The Consequences are the results of all the building action and Climax. Here, there is a falling energy level and elements put into play during the Climax gradually come to fruition. This is the retreat from battle, death, birth, the pay-out. Revelations may occur here.

Number 6: Denouement
Here, the final result of the all the elements are revealed. This can be the "Epilogue" of the story, which may be required to fully explicate the results of the ongoing Conflicts.

This is, to the best of my understanding, the elements needed to create a story. What is interesting to me is how these are in parallel with the awareness cycle in Gestalt Therapy theory: Pre-Contact, Contact, Post-Contact, Integration.

In Pre-Contacting there is an initial awareness of sensing of the Other (which can also be the environment). This seems in parallel with the "Background" element of the story and "Conflict," second element.

In Contact there is direct contact with the Other and there is a moment of Confluence where there is no differentiation. This seems in parallel with some elements of "Conflict" and the "Climax" seems the quintessential contacting.

In Post-contact or "withdrawal" the self moves away from the other. This is the "Falling Action" phase of the story. The contacting has occurred and the story's conflicted elements have exchanged elements with one another. There is no integration, yet.

Integration is the integration of elements acquired during Contacting. This is the Denouement, where the story's elements are integrated into new wholes / Gestalts.

It might be interesting to think of my story writing attempts in terms of Gestalt Therapy theory. Where Background is conflated with Conflict, as "Pre-Contacting." Then Complications and Climax are Contact. Perhaps it would be better to think of Complications as Contact per se. The Climax should be "Final Contact" or the moment of ultimate Confluence.

Thinking more on this, it would be better to keep the six elements and expand on the parallel. Background elaboration is awareness without energy. Conflict is awareness WITH energy as in the story is beginning to establish its conflicts and disagreements. This is contrasted with awareness without energy / conflict, information.

So, in my model for writing I will think of the six elements thusly:

1. Awareness without Conflict
2. Awareness of Conflict
3. Acting in Conflict / Raising the Stakes
4. Climax / Clash
5. Awareness of Lowering Energy
6. New Awareness without Conflict

So, I think this is a good model for me. I will try to continue writing in this vein so as to hone my skills and continue reading. It will be important to write in this manner to beat so-called "writer's block."

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