Friday, October 14, 2011

Elements of Writing

To me, the basic elements of fiction writing are: The story, the characters, the plot.  The writing is the story encompasses the arc of the tale, and the ever changing flow of set and theatre from beginning to end. The characters are the actors upon the stage of the saga. They precipitate the action of the plot. The plot comprises the building blocks which frame and support the story in various locations, times, and character interaction. Finally, there is the writing. The texture of words, sentences, description, thought and syntax is the glue that binds the other essential elements of the book.

But what do I know? Many authors, virtually all of them far more accomplished than I, have their own opinions of these matters. One thing I am convinced of is that in many genres, including western romance, characters can be stereotypical. Though still enjoyable the “can do no wrong” or “can do no good” personality is fantasy. The reality of human nature is that every person has his or her strengths, weaknesses, shortcomings, strong suits, skeletons, principles or lack thereof, and each has been molded not only by their DNA but by their history and social setting. Complexity. It is the quintessential and most intriguing ingredient of any personality. People are not black or white but varying shades of gray. I have invested heavily in this facet of my characters because it is true and authentic.

The excerpt series on Threads West consists of tidbits pulled from the chapters on each of the primary characters in this first of the novels, the Threads West, An American Saga series. The romance of America, her people, her spirit, and the west. The ongoing story of us.The initial  books of the series, beginning with it's name sake here, are historical Western romance novels. The final book of the series, based in part on a true tale, continue the story in the Contemporary West. The arc of the story that unfolds over the 170 years  inhabited by more than thirty eight primary characters spanning  four generations, their life threads woven into the rich tapestry of an emerging nation, and forged on the beautiful but unforgiving anvil of the vast lands of the American West.

And one more hint. Just as, in my humble opinion many characters in this genre are stereotypical, so too are many endings. Either she stands sobbing, clutching her heaving bosom in the doorway as her quiet, strong, broad shouldered man rides off silhouetted by the setting sun to pursue his manly quest…or...they walk slowly, happily, hand in hand surrounded by the warmth of love and light into a golden dawn (choose one).

Each of these six books could stand alone. They have their own endings which in some ways brings conclusion and in others leaves the readers hanging, awaiting continuation of the story. When completed the Saga will be well over two thousand pages. But the end, truly the conclusion in the final pages of Plateau ©2009, the last of the Threads West, An American Saga series, will not be stereotypical. However, that is yet another tale in the modern west six books from now.

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