I am an amateur games designer and writer and have founded Dark Craft Studios to house my works within. and mod developer. I am an avid fan of all things horror, occult, philosophical and of course, Lovecraftian. Currently Reading: Thomas Ligotti, Arthur Machen, Robert W. Chambers, Ramsey Campbell.

Report article RSS Feed Systematic Writing vs Free flowing Writing

Posted by C-zom on Sep 26th, 2012

As a writer I find myself transfixed by the process of self-improvement. Of always feeding off inspiration and improving a fundamental inventory of tropes, idioms, phrases, sequences of flow and scenes that are stitched together to make every story. While people tend to frown upon formulaic writing, I've been embracing it more and more these days as I grow more seasoned in what I would consider the field of "writing". That is not to say I consider myself good at what I do, I'm a pebble against a mountain of better writers and strive daily to improve my craft.

Constructing a sequence of events for a story is as important, and inspirational, as source material itself. When I was struggling with the conceptualizing stage of Triptych I turned to unconventional means for aid. Even music itself, the arc of a composition, I would sit in the dark with my headphones and listen to the "chain" of emotions that the track would pull you through. Fading in from 0% volume to 100%, building tension and sadness through swells of strings and arrangements, then fading back again to a more mellow outro. I decided to run an experiment and see if I could take this same exact sequence of emotions and turn it into written word, using it as a foundation for a storyboard. Start minimalistic, introduce swells of sadness and cryptic story telling, change direction into a more mellow and introspective field and then quietly bow off the stage while the curtain drapes fold over the lights.

But is writing that simple? Is it the means of attaching one brick to another with mortar in the middle to construct an entire wall? I'm struggling with the concept of systematic writing vs free flowing diction and feel that the feud in my head will result in a better writer. Inspirations I take are literal; I could study the shape of a flower and have a "central" body for the story, and write a side-grade for each pedal, intertwining the complete picture into something beautiful and complete while being systematic and compartmentalized.

I often look at the characters I've created in the past and wonder what it is that made me adjust them to who they were. I do not apply myself to characterization unlike many of my inspirations. I am not biographical. So if shapes and music and "lines" can draw a storyboard, what defines a human being? What defines an elder god? What defines the horror?

These are questions bombing through my head every time I recollect upon my notes. I think I write a human being based upon the concept of weakness. A centralized idea of "Sadness" may embody one character, or avarice to another, or loneliness to another. Using her as an example I would suggest that Aoife Hall is certainly the embodiment of disconnection with friends or family, loneliness, the fear of isolation and being trapped in an uncontrollable prison. So where would her love, Edgar Gray, fit into that? How can loneliness find a contrast in a character who is the embodiment (to a degree that is measurable to pure cliche) in greed and menace? This formula would assume her opposite, or attraction, should have been a character who embodies freedom and redemption and charisma. Perhaps that is why they're both dead.

I may seem abstract but the question is simple: If writing is formulaic, how can characters or god forbid, character relationships, be? Half of the picture cannot be mathematical. One half cannot be based on shapes and lines and construct and the other cannot be free and sapient and fluid. If a character is a cardboard cutout, it is obvious, hell -- there are trillions documented on tvtropes. But a character who is "human", the best of antagonists and protagonists, where do they fit into writing? Can such a character even exist?

Nonetheless I find myself staring down the barrel of rather philosophical questions in regards to writing and the study of language and presentation and sapience. I hope to answer these questions, pick one side or the other (systematic or free) and hone such a side -- a definition -- into a better style of writing that I can carry myself forward with.

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