Dramatic Tension (Story Engineering and Physics #8 of 12)

Part of a series of posts on story engineering based on the book of that title and its companion volume Story Physics.

Story Engineering & Story PhysicsLife is conflict. The very act of birth is one of the most physically and emotionally taxing events in human existence.

And we spend the rest of our days resolving conflict.

That’s a good thing. If you don’t resolve the conflict between the current state of your stomach and the desired state of your stomach, before long, you’ll be facing a more powerful conflict. If you don’t resolve the conflict between your current emotional state, physical state, plane of existence, and the ones you desire, you’ll die or hate life.

Struggle is neither good or bad; it’s what we struggle for, with, against, toward, which determines the character of the work we do.

… more … “Dramatic Tension (Story Engineering and Physics #8 of 12)”

Your Unconscious is Not a Terrorist. You Are Allowed to Negotiate.

Preservation of life is your unconscious mind’s primary function. Beyond breath and hunger it uses another tool to keep you alive: alertness to danger.

Because your unconscious is an ethereal non-physical entity, non-physical threats weigh the same as the physical. Whether the light at the end of the tunnel is the headlamp of an oncoming train or a painful memory, the instinctive response is avoidance. Run from danger; that’s what your unconscious does. Most of the time, it’s a good bodyguard.

You’ve seen it in a movie or TV show: protected VIP convinces overzealous bodyguard to allow some latitude, provided safeguards are in place. Sure, kid, you can go to the zoo, but we’ll have a tracking device in your shoe and men in black at every gate.

Your unconscious is a bodyguard trying to protect you, not a terrorist trying to take you down.

a conversation with your unconscious

What if you could negotiate some free time, give your bodyguard the morning off so you could write from your heart, pouring it all out, wheat and chaff together, spilling some of that internal truth onto the page? What if, for a little while, you made your unconscious feel safe, so it would stay out of the way while you go on a hot date with a great scene for your novel?

You can. Here’s how. … more … “Your Unconscious is Not a Terrorist. You Are Allowed to Negotiate.”

Where Art Comes From When You Don’t Know Where It Comes From

fear needles usSometimes art is ground out one step at a time. I’ve done that, and even produced things I’m proud of that way.

Sometimes, art spurts out like mustard from the sun-stricken picnic table. When this happens to me, it always produces something I love.

Once we have the basic skills, writing is a combination of persistence and getting out of your own way. More precisely, getting your conscious, the prefrontal cortex which usually drives the bus; er, your brain, out of the way of your unconscious, including the limbic system where your emotions live, the amygdala where your fears live, and other scary medical terms where other important truths hide out.

To be sure, it is the job of our conscious mind to navigate, to step in when unconsciousness won’t do.

For a writer, that stage is editing, not writing. … more … “Where Art Comes From When You Don’t Know Where It Comes From”

Writers and Their Emotions

I’m going for a 60s health-ed movie feel in the title, in case you missed it.

sunriseWriting without emotion is pointless. If you don’t move your readers to feel something, you accomplish nothing. Even with non-fiction, teaching a topic requires moving your readers to care enough to latch on.

With fiction, emotion is everything.

It’s no wonder, then, that we fiction writers are a moody lot.

I have days of euphoria. I also have days in the doldrums. (Like when we have the rare phenomenon of 10 gloomy days straight here in the frozen north.)

A dear friend commented this morning that they were feeling down about their writing.

Steven Pressfield posted about the pure unadulterated panic induced by the research for his latest book.

It’s gonna happen. … more … “Writers and Their Emotions”