Friday, July 31, 2009

The Desire to Fly

Peter Jacobi, one of the instructors at Chautauqua, taught us to soar. He said that in order to let our thoughts fly on golden wings, we must have the right attitude. We must evince a willingness to soar, to imagine the possibilities, to allow the soul to escape into thoughts and words. We must love the sense of freedom that words give to our imaginations. There must be a sense of adventure and courage. Don't hoard the ideas you have now for a different book, but have a willingness to gamble and be generous with your words for your reader.

As a writer, we need a "map" to see where we're going. And so do readers. Readers should be able to experience what the map means and that map should take them to the intended end of your story. You must have an introduction to your story that causes readers to decide to go on. That lead must be inviting, and open the world of the story. The lead gives the reader an inkling of the paths to take and wonder what's ahead.

One should also provide the reader with an extended explanation as to why they should make the attempt to follow the path our words take. Badly designed writing is a communication road that is hard to find. Make the course crystal clear, and have a sense of order, of writing with a purpose.

That sense of propulsion, of motion, of going forward is what makes the story a journey for your reader. And, within that journey, there must be a climax, a story arch. You want to leave the reader with a remembrance, the knowledge that a life has been changed.

For the reader, there are goals: that there is an expectation realized, that there is surprise in the story--a taking beyond the predictable--that there is a voice to savor, new worlds to discover. The novel carries inside it a dream world to which we long to escape. Then the story must provide entertainment. Within that, there must be a respect for the subject matter, and make the reader want to stay with you.

All these things give flight to your words, to carry you up, over and beyond the mundane, past the predictable, and into the stratosphere. Do you have the desire to fly?


Tara McClendon said...

I tend to be like the baby bird at the edge of the cliff--not so sure whether I really can fly. Of course, that's about the time my support group kicks me off the ledge, because they have faith I can fly.

Deb Hockenberry said...

I've always wanted to go to Chautauqua, Katie. You lucky person, you!! Mr. Jacobi says to map out the story? Does he mean to outline?

Donna McDine said...

I'm enjoying hearing about your experiences at Chautauqua. Looking forward to more!

Warm regards,
Children’s Author
Write What Inspires You Blog
Donna M. McDine’s Website

Vivian Zabel said...

I expected to see your August 1 VBT post, Katie.

I'm glad you enjoyed Chautauqua.