Wednesday, September 15, 2010

Expanding Essence

I searched for the perfect word to express today's topic.  Thanks to my thesaurus I found the word "Essence." In search of a definition for essence I found this site:  wordnetweb.princeton.edu/perl/webwn   where they defined essence as: 


 The choicest or most essential or most vital part of some idea or experience


Essence is the attribute or set of attributes that make an object or substance what it fundamentally is, and which it has by necessity, and without which it loses its identity.


The essence of our WIP is the core, the engine, the foundation.  Without essence we don't have a story.


I find myself swinging a pendulum in my writing--too many words, too few words, adding fillers, writing too tight, explaining, criptic--ever seeking balance or compliance--never landing on "essence".


Sometimes our drive is to meet a given word count. We may add or take away from our story in pursuit of this goal.  But the focus needs to be on the essence of our writing.  Conference teachers teach the importance of keeping to the word count, but they also emphasize word count should not be the engine of your product.


Today I want to focus on the pursuit of expanding essence in our WIP. 


Say you walked through the front door of a mansion.  You scan the room from left to right and immediately make a choice. You turn to the left, leaving whatever is straight ahead or to the right behind you.  You walk throughout the mansion making numerous choices--should I eat the candy in the bowl--curl into the dumbwaiter and ride it upstairs, open the cellar door, force the cupboard open?  Each choice made is another choice rejected. 


You might have heard from your main character. Perhaps he told you, "Go to the left...the answer is there, trust me."  To this I ask your character--why?  What are you afraid of?  What is to the right that you're afraid to face? Why did you have the answer so quickly? 


Think of your story.  What if your main character first turned to the right, drove a different way, got on a different flight, received a call before, skipped a meal, took the wrong medicine, met Jane first, found the acceptance letter to that other school or job first....  What if---what if.  Step back from your story or outline or thoughts for a moment and wonder with me how would your story be strengthened or fortified, layered with mystery or intrigue, infused with conflict or need if.... 


Join me this month as we explore different areas to expand the essence of our WIP. Part two next week.

4 comments:

Casey said...

Mary did you crawl inside my head and read my thoughts?? Because as I start working on my edits this week, that is pretty much what is going through my brain. I am looking forward to reading the next section, this sounds like something I need!

Mary Vee said...

Thanks, Casey...me too :)

Casey said...

I've had a couple of those kind of posts lately!

Patsy said...

I love these kinds of books. Looking forward to reading this one.
plhouston(at)bellsouth(dot)net