Thursday, April 13, 2006

The Transitive Property of Writing

Because so many events of life leave people feeling unfulfilled, a story that offers a powerful fulfillment can create tremendous inner feeling of relief, a cessation of conflicted, and unresolved feelings and ideas for a story’s audience. When the hero saves the world, we share that ability and experience. When the underdog rises up to defeat an oppressor, we experience that we can defeat that which oppresses us in life. When the unloved finds true love, we share that experience of love. In those moments, the inner voices that whisper to us that our lives lack meaning, that we will never escape that which oppresses us, or that we don’t deserve to be loved, are silenced.

--Bill Johnson, A Story is a Promise: Good Things to Know Before You Write that Screenplay, Novel, or Play, p. 32

Tricia’s Thoughts:
I was never too great at math, but I do remember that in algebra the transitive property means that if a=b and b=c, then a=c.

In writing, the transitive property can be referred to as the emotions of conflict, relief, or fulfillment that transfers from the author’s mind, through the page, to the reader. If story = resolution and resolution = emotional fulfillment, then story = emotional fulfillment to readers whose life events don’t often end up with such neat and tidy conclusions.


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