Monday, April 18, 2016

The emotions wheel

     A friend sent me the link to this wheel which is supposed to help writers with their fiction:

     The wheel has a certain logic to it, but if any writer starts resorting to this stuff she or he really misses the whole point.
     There are all kinds of writing advice books.  Most are junk, written by folks who have not actually accomplished much in writing.  Some talk about constructing elaborate story lines using index cards that you can shuffle around to build a structure, or charts that purport to lay out a proper story flow, or certain arcane formulas.  
     Problem is, life doesn't follow charts.  How would we set out to chart the dark and bizarre thinking of ISIS, for example, or hope to predict its future using some fiction formula?
     The best writers work from habitual in-depth scrutiny of surroundings and people and experiences, much like the best photographers and painters and sculptors.  Of course you have to work within a certain recognized genre, and for good reasons.  Nicholas Sparks writes romances, for example, and has worked to nail that genre.  His readers come to his books with certain expectations (some kind of spotlighted human relationship that is troubled or in jeopardy, with some kind of believable resolution that has romantic resonance).  He satisfies those expectations and thus makes lots of money.

     And writers who can additionally imbue their work with enough power and wisdom and beauty and empathy can rise above all the rest and help change the world.  Steinbeck did it with The Grapes of Wrath, for example.  There are many, many more examples.



  1. I agree that The Grapes of Wrath is a very good example. You are a great writer, Mr. Bowie!