Sunday, 10 March 2013

The Art of ‘Weaving’ – Part 1


What is ‘weaving’, what exactly does it mean? 
All the elements in writing are interconnected – they’re like atoms, they’re needed, and so the structure is considerably weakened without them.

Theme, plot, characters, story arc, setting, subplots, research, backstory and so on make up those interconnected elements, and they have to be connected, otherwise there would be no story.
But the strength of any story relies entirely on the writer’s ability to bringing all of those elements together in a complete and cohesive manner.

Weaving has been used by writers since the human race could learn to tell stories; it’s not a new concept at all.  Most writers do it without realising, even first time writers.  Experienced writers, on the other hand, will use it to their advantage, with exceptional results.
Weaving information, characters, subplots, themes and so on is a universal necessity for any story, and should be done in a seamless manner.  Not only that, but they should be relative to the story, it all has to make sense, it has to be part of the story.

Why do we need to do it?
We need to do it because the reader constantly needs information.  Whether it’s about a character, a plot twist, a revelation, or a clue, the writer must allow the reader to be privy.  The writer is letting the reader learn as the story unfolds, and that means the writer has to share the narrative and exposition.

It’s about allowing snippets of crucial information into the story without dropping huge chunks of boring, indigestible narrative to stop the reader in their tracks (and put the reader off completely).
These little bits of information can be shown through characters, dialogue, backstory, subplots and so on.  It is therefore possible involve the reader by letting them in on certain information whilst keeping the story moving forward.

So let’s start with the main elements all writers should be weaving into their basic story framework:

Weaving the Plot
The plot is the nub of the story – what the story actually entails.  Into this, a writer has to ‘weave’ ideas and events, situations and scenes that make up the whole story. 

The writer has the opportunity to create depth and complexity by ‘weaving’ information into the plot.  This is achieved by the writer adding a story arc for the characters to follow – in other words the character’s journey within the story, from beginning to end and which contain all the main events of the larger story.
Writers weave the plot into the story, and other elements are then woven into the plot. (Hence you can see why all the elements are interconnected).

Weaving the Subplots
It works the same as working the plot around characters and their situations and building up the story.  They should form from the natural progression of the story (rather than forced in to form a dramatic effect).
By placing or ‘weaving’ subplots connected to the main story to run parallel with the main plot, the writer is enriching the story and giving it greater depth. 

Again it is about sharing certain information with the reader, the subtle snippets or clues, the hints in the narrative or dialogue that makes it possible to interlace subplots with the main plot.
The writer should allow the subplot to grow with the main story.  It should also follow the main story arc and therefore allow it to interact with the main plot.

Weaving Characters
Characters are woven into the plot as a necessity, and therefore they’re also woven into the narrative, the very fabric of the story.  But how do you do that?

Firstly the writer introduces characters into the story – this is weaving at its most basic.  Then as the story progresses the writer allows the character to grow with the story and to follow the story arc, and interacting with other characters, while at the same time weaving fragments of information about the characters and their surroundings into the narrative to allow the reader to be involved and gain a greater understanding of both the story and the characters.
And the trick with this is to only place information that is necessary.  Think about it - it’s just not possible to weave huge chunks of description, narrative or information.  That is more of an info-dump.

Also, all writers should use a character’s senses to enable the description of a scene, rather than simply ‘telling’ the reader.  This act of weaving senses into the description via the character is a subtle but effective way of letting the reader in on certain bits of information.
Whether it is a piece of information, something new for the reader to learn, a clue to the plot, a revelation in the story, an introduction to a new character, a twist in plot or a new subplot, by sneaking them seamlessly into the narrative and letting them form part of the story, then that is what weaving is all about.

In part 2 we’ll look at weaving theme, research, setting, backstory etc

Next week: The art of weaving – Part 2

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