The next few posts are going to be reposts of blogs I’ve written on other blogging platforms in the past, because I’ve started and abandoned way too many blogs to count.
Cracking Open a Window – Past post 2/? – Originally posted at kristinekim.blogspot.com (which will be deleted in the future), August 22, 2010.
Many people have heard the joke of 1+1=window. Don’t get it? Move the two dashes that make up the equals sign to the top and bottom of the phrase (phrase?) “1+1”. Voila! Window!
The point is, there are many technical aspects to a story, some of which–such as grammar, punctuation, sentence fluency, blah blah blah–are the same in essentially every story out there. Most books follow the same rules that are out there for conventions; some writers and editors even use THE ELEMENTS OF STYLE by Strunk and White as a writers’ bible of sorts. The conventions and technicalities covered in books and articles the cyber world over are the parts that make up the “1+1”; they’re simple statements, and story essentials.
But it’s the window part that gets tricky. Because even though you’re using the conventions that are the same within every story out there, whether it be the unfailing cliches or stereotypical characters, it’s up to YOU to decide what your readers see in your window. What world will you create? Is it light or dark? How will you tell your story?
Through this journey of creating your window, however, you must also make sure that your blinds are up, and your reader can see outside. It’s not enough for them to know that they are in a different world. Show them the rolling green hills, and let them feel the soft taps of rain as it blows through the window on a chilly breeze. Let them hear the laughing children and the screech of a passing car–it could lead to your next conflict. Allow them to hear for themselves what your characters are doing.
I guess what I’m trying to say is this: Don’t let conventions and mere technicalities get in the way of telling your story. The important part is to tell it, and to tell it well. Let people know that venturing outside, into your story, is worth it. If you’re an author struggling to get even your first story out of your fingertips, much like myself, figure out what you can find outside your window. Discern what you’re seeing. Even if you can’t, that’s okay; there are times when even the clearest window can be marred by the splatters of a rainstorm or by pranksters who decided that egging your house was the way to go. But even that can be cleaned.
If not, maybe it’s just a matter of getting a new window.
Writing can be as easy as 1+1. If they put their mind to it, anyone can do it. Anyone is capable of telling a story and putting it to paper. But to create a window is hard work. Opening one can be even harder. But people have done it before; through the opening of their own windows and the cracking of spines (books spines, that is), we have ventured into J.R.R. Tolkien’s Middle Earth, felt the wonder of J.K. Rowling’s Platform 9 3/4, and known what it felt like to cry at the death of a harp that was the idea of Lloyd Alexander. Don’t give up; your own window is there, waiting for you. Once that sucker is open, it’s not just a window overlooking the story… it’s a portal into your own world.