Tuesday 12 December 2017

13 more thoughts about writing

1. Every genre of writing has a ‘syntax’ and a series of paradigms. (Think eg the rom-com). The syntax is the storyline-structure-plot. The paradigms are the protagonists and settings. Select a story: are you going to change the syntax? Paradigms? Both?

2. An author is someone who plays with genres, motifs, syntaxes, paradigms, expressions, rhetoric and the audience expectations written in to all these aspects of writing. We learn these expectations through reading loads and writing loads for audiences.

3. ‘Audience’ is not just the real reader(s). Every text implies an audience who know/like eg the language it’s written in, the choice of words , the motifs and allusions, the genre, the rhetorical devices, the similarity/alteration in syntax/paradigms .

4. Every time we want to describe a person or thing having introduced him/her/it we can choose whether to use a ‘which/that/who’ type expression or start a new sentence with a he/she/it/this/that/these type. The second is often more informal, more like speech.

5. If you ‘front load’ too many sentences one after the other, with phrases, clauses and adverbs that come before the sentence’s main action, the reader will tire/get lost/get bored.

6. Expressing an ‘argument’ in fiction/non-fiction is greatly affected by whether each sentence is or is not part of the argument. Digression tells more about the person arguing than the argument itself. Fine, if that’s intended! If not, get rid.

7. Surprise in fiction may be that we were reading the story as a genre, which built expectations, but the writer broke from the genre by altering the usual syntax and/or one or more paradigms and/or introducing an unusual motif.

8. ‘Character’ in text is made up of only the ‘signifiers’ we give them through words in the story eg thru speech, thought, description of action, others’ viewpoints. Ultimately ‘character’ in fiction only matters when it ‘engages’ in action, like a cog getting in gear.

9. The Stith-Thompson Index is an index of story motifs. These are scenes, encounters, ‘moments’ selected and classified from thousands of stories. They are a resource!

10. The viewpoint in non-fiction texts ‘hide’ behind phrases like: ‘it is thought that...’ (by whom?!);’many people have said...’ (who? When? Where? Why?); ‘few would question...’ and unproven adjectives/adverbs: ‘improbable’, ‘celebrated’, ‘thankfully’, ‘universally acclaimed’,

11. Seemingly objective narration can slip a p.o.v. in without readers spotting the ‘bias’ eg ‘It was pointless for her to go on.’ Is this her thought? Or the narrator’s? Or both? Or neither? Ie somehow belonging to the story?!

12. In stories, there are events of the past and future we can relate which ‘thicken’ the text, but there are ‘continuous’ states of mind, outlook etc (past, present or future) we can relate: eg ‘she used to...’,/‘might later like to...’.

13. Who is going to help or hinder the progress of your protagonist(s)? Why? What’s their motive?