Recently I have been struggling to get to grips with structure, that slightly dull but entirely necessary feature of any story that must at least be given a little consideration before you sit down to write.
Not to generalise, but I wouldn’t say planning is the forte of most creative types, most of the time we are far too busy with the fun stuff. Like procrastinating in the pub.
Check out how knowing your writing style can increase your productivity…
Normally when I have an idea it comes to me in a blob (yes, a blob) of feelings, movement and dramatic moments, all rolled into one pulsing thing ready to burst. Fairly unworkable, to say the least, particularly since I am now working on the longest project I have ever attempted. So initially I tackled my story by thinking of it in three parts; beginning, middle and end. But what about the subplots? Or the mini climaxes? Or the experimental monologue? These didn’t fit in to this simplistic structure, and this is where my brain panic began. I couldn’t see the story for the hundreds of blank pages before me and the endless possibilities they held, not least of all writing my way into a dead end.
Then I stopped being so dramatic about the whole thing and remembered that I’m kinesthetic. Of course! I have never worked the same way as all those audio and visuals out there, I need to feel my way around what I am doing.
Let me explain a little. Everyone perceives the world in different ways…ok we know that. Everyone learns in different ways too. When I was younger my Mum trained to be a NLP coach (neuro-linguistic programming, a type of therapy that looks at how we view the world, and as a result the impact such positive or negative perceptions can have on our lives) and I would listen with great curiosity to her training CDs which, amongst other things, outlined the differences between audio, visual and kinesthetic learners. All people are a little bit of each, however there is always one dominant way in which we perceive and filter our experiences.
In my experience audio people look to the side when talking/listening and are really good at remembering what has been said, visual people love making lists and maintaining strong eye contact, and us kinesthetics can’t go into a museum/shop/someone’s house without touching everything we can get our grubby mitts on (yeah, sorry about that). Read a little more about it and maybe even find out which you are.
So what does all this have to do with writing? Well, the moment I stuck twenty sheets of A4 paper on my wall and started scribbling all over them was the moment my story started to take shape. Although the end product was undoubtedly visual, the process helped massively; finally I was literally feeling my way through the story and everything started to make sense. This method helped for me but you might want to consider collecting pictures that represent your story or writing a summary to refer back to if you are visual, or writing to music that suits the tone you are trying to convey or discussing your story with someone if you are audio. There are so many possibilities, use your imagination and don’t be afraid to take a new approach.
Whether we are predominantly audio, visual or kinesthetic, this also affects the language we use and is an interesting aspect to consider in terms of character. Not every character will perceive the world in the same way as the writer or indeed as the other characters in the story, so explore this. It may be a challenge, but it all helps in giving your characters a distinct voice. You feel me? Hear what I’m saying? See what I mean? You get the idea.