Thursday, May 3, 2012
When I have "down time" I do calligraphy. It occurred to me there are parallels between calligraphy and our writing. Believe it or not, the finished product doesn't magically appear. Just as we spend hours working on our writing, polishing and refining it, the calligrapher also spends hours--much of it in preparation before he or she leaps out with the touch of faith to put pen to paper. As with almost anything we attempt, we start with practice. Repetition and constant practice leads to competency at the very least.
Once we have a minimum competency, we start attempting a complete project. First a word. Then a sentence. Perhaps a paragraph! And finally a short story. It's rough. The characters are off just a little. We need to polish it up a bit.
When we're ready, we start to work on the final layout. How big should our calligraphy piece be? How many words will be right for our story? For both, the answer is the same. Small enough to finish without getting discouraged. Big enough to challenge us.
But what about the window dressing? The border? Or as it's know in writing, what about the world building? Even in a contemporary story set on everyday Main Street, there are details we must decide. What is the season? Which way does the heroine turn when she goes to work? A rough map will help nail down the details just as the rough border does for our calligraphy piece. It does something else. It frames the piece providing a finishing touch. Oh, the piece is complete with just the words. But the border gives it framework and cohesion.
When the writer spends time on the world building for their story, it adds polish and completion to their story. Does it take time? Oh, yes. It certainly takes time. Is it worth it? Take another look at the finished piece at the top. What do you think?