22 July 2011

Details, Transformation, and The Universal Story

Often, the writers who excel in conveying just the right details in a scene or depth of emotion through subtle body language during dialogue have a strength in visual perception and visual memory. 

Judging from the number of writers who have commented on the fact that I wear red (one of the brand colors of BBP) in all the videos on my Plot Series  vlog where I address plot issues in the Beginning and the Middle of novels, memoirs, and screenplays, I take heart that their stories resonate with subtle thematic clues. 

A much smaller number of writers have noted the switch from red to purple in the videos pertaining to plotting the End of a story (to show the outward change signifying the character's ultimate transformation in the Universal Story).

Writers have a tendency to get stuck in their heads, focus on themselves, and look inward rather than outward. They obsess about the stories they write to the point that they often miss the details of the world around them. 

Close your eyes. How many objects in the room you are sitting in can you describe in detail? 

Pull yourself out of a conversation you are having with another person and watch the interchange, as if watching a movie. 

Memorize the words the other person speaks. Note what she holds back and how she conveys meaning through nonverbal communication. 

Recount the last conversation you had. What did the other person say? Your answers, or lack thereof, may surprise you. 

Look at the details that surround you. What do they convey about where you are on your writer’s journey? 

What can you let go of, both tangible and intangible, to move nearer to who you dream of being? 

Whenever you are not writing, pay attention to the world around you and what others are saying. Jot down notes in your journal that you carry with you everywhere. Tune into the details of the natural world. The practice gets you out of your head and produces gems for the theme, mood, and nuance of your story. 

Most of a writer’s genius comes in the art of the finesse. How finely you craft your project before you let it go is up to each individual writer. 

The Plot Whisperer: Secrets of the Universal Story Structure Any Writer Can Master released by Adams Media October 2011. NOW available now for pre-order!

For immediate tips about the Universal Story and writing a novel, memoir or screenplay, visit Plot Series: How Do I Plot a Novel, Memoir, Screenplay? on YouTube. A directory of all the steps to the series is to the right of this post. Enjoy!