The Art of Writing No. 34

Once you are writing every day and your imagination begins to bulk up on its muscle, ideas come to you many times every day regarding plot lines. I said in an earlier blog how some writers carry an ideas book in their pocket and note down the significant in what they are experiencing whether it be the looks of a person, a few lines of dialogue, a landscape, or a telling aberration in their physical or mental worlds. Some writers have files of recorded data which see them through the lean times when, otherwise, a portcullis of a writer’s block might fall across productivity. The notion of having such a resource is more appealing as a concept than a reality for many writers. You only have to look at the planet to realize that humans find it difficult to plan and conserve, against the future. We exploit instead.
Anyway, as I said, ideas come to you (like dreams) the more you make ready for them and reward them with records of their appearance!
Here is a typical example. I watched a documentary last night on science and the light it casts on the nature of life. Like many such programmes it did not quench my thirst. I’d love to know what is the factor that stokes up the extraordinary mechanism that we call DNA. At one point in the programme it was stated that scientists over the next decade or two will create the first unicellular life form. Immediately I thought of a neat Sci Fi short story. At the moment these cells are made and escape from the laboratory, a cataclysm wipes out humanity. Over millions of years they develop into the varieties of complex life we see today; until scientists reach the point where they can create their first unicellular life form… The twist in the tale involves the realization that we are in a never ending loop of creation and destruction. Very Hindu. It would have to be written so that this is disclosed at the very end of the tale.
In The Act of Creation, Arthur Koestler suggests that creativity, in the main, comes from taking two disparate pieces of knowledge and bringing them together to create a third, already known but not, until then, with any connection to the first two. This happens in music, maths and comedy. In music, the final movement may resolve the countervailing nature of what has gone before. In maths, the QED in an equation (forgive my O Level knowledge) produces a pleasing line of proof from separate and hitherto unconnected pieces of mathematical information. In comedy we have the punch line.  I even use the latter to set the scene in the website for Azimuth:
A samurai once asked Zen Master Hakuin where he would go after he died.
Hakuin answered “How am I supposed to know?”
“How do you know? You’re a Zen master!” exclaimed the samurai.
“Yes, but not a dead one,” Hakuin answered. – Zen mondo
On a grand scale, a novel does the same. The ending should be an intellectually and pleasing denouement which brings together what seems contradictory or paradoxical and shows that a logic pertains to all the books events.
Azimuth by Jack Sanger (paperback and PDF at
Azimuth (separate volumes of the trilogy) as ebooks also on Amazon Kindle

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