My drug of choice is writing––writing, art, reading, inspiration, books, creativity, process, craft, blogging, grammar, linguistics, and did I mention writing?

Tuesday, July 10, 2012

Elements of Craft

26 letters and 14 pieces of punctuation form libraries of masterpieces.  The only trick is the ordering.

One of the true paradoxes of art is that any art form is a holistic composite of many elements that are woven together.  In fact, a measure of good art is an almost invisible and seamless cooperation between those elements to all work towards the same impact.  The gestalt of the art transcends the measure of its discrete elements by leaps and bounds.  However, art can rarely be either richly understood or taught without breaking those elements down to examine them with some scrutiny, creating a false sense of boundary between them.  Dissecting art into its elements is like putting pins through individual butterfly species to examine them.  You have to do it to understand them, but it is nothing compared to the majesty of standing in a field while myriads of monarchs, satyrs, and metalmarks explode as a gush of color into the Arkansas sky around you.

When we examine fiction with the intent of improving our own craft, it becomes essential for us to look at the discrete parts as well as how they are all working together.  These elements are similar to literary analysis, but often use an even higher "magnification."

You have 26 letters and 14 pieces of punctuation.  With those forty symbols, rearranged, we can create anything from The Bell Jar to Sonnet 23 to Animal Farm.  So here is where I will do my best to explain the the elements that writers use, consciously or not, as the threads they weave into their craft.

Concrete Imagery
Significant Detail
Filter your Filtering
Prose Rhythm
The Punctum (easier to show than explain) Ex 1, Ex 2 (Say Something)
Narrative Distance

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