Friday, September 27, 2013

Different Angles

Cubes - Jean David

After I posted last time, a lot of you made the excellent point that writing on the spur of the moment actually had its merits. You guys are right, and honestly I should have made it clearer in the post. However, when I wrote the article I was primarily approaching the subject from the perspective of trying to defend careful pre-novel planning. When all of you commented, it occurred to me that you could take writing from a different perspective, and make a case for seat-of-your-pants-writing, or for heavy revision and editing.

You all had different angles on my original take. 

I have a theory--well, better yet, I have a theology--about the nature of truth. Okay, be patient with me as I wax a little philosophical. Truth is absolute and unchangeable, but it is many sided, like a diamond. For instance, right now, you know that your hand exists (hopefully), and you know that absolutely (we're going to ignore postmoderns), however, you can view that hand from many different perspectives: you can look at the back, you can look at the palm, you can make your fingers point straight towards you, you can cover your face with your hand. All of these give you a different perspective on what your hand looks like. This is something that God built into the nature of reality: different things can be true depending on your perspective.

Now lets be clear here, I'm not claiming that everything is true depending on your perspective, but rather you can approach an absolute truth in different ways. You can view you hand from many different perspectives, but it will always be a hand and never a tentacle.

Fiction writing can be viewed from various perspectives too: you can look at it from the perspective of sub-creation,  from the perspective of telling a story,  from the perspective of self expression. Your method of writing will be influenced by how you you view writing itself vastly.

You can view the craft of writing from different perspectives as well, and hence, I think, our confusion. I was looking at it from the perspective of careful planning, which is one methodology. You can also view it from different perspectives, and both seat-of-your-pants-writing and ruminate-on-the-concept-for-a-few-hundred-years have their advantages.

Which is all a really complicated way of saying that there are a lot of different ways to go about writing: Heart of Darkness was written in the seat-of-your-pants style, and The Lord of the Rings was written in the ruminate-on-the-concept-for-a-few-hundred-years method. Now, while both my editor and I like Tolkien better, Joseph Conrad was a talented writer (especially when you consider that English was his fourth language, and there are some words I don't know). There are facets to reality, and you can choose which one to depict. Use your talents accordingly.

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