Sticky Cobwebs of the Past
Mankind has been telling stories since the moment they could communicate. It’s how we see the world, teach lesson, and learn. Straight facts do not necessarily illustrate points or ideas without an interesting narrative.
That means our past is rich with material to inspire us.
As a writer, I respect and admire those who have come before me. They’ve helped build the foundation and structure that I create in.
As writers, we can not and should not look to reinvent ourselves as the modern day Jane Austen, Charles Dickens, Dorothy L. Sayers, Jules Verne, Shakespeare. Yes, reviews might prattle on, making lofty comparisons, but we have to write in our own voice. Each of the aforementioned authors spoke to the social issues of their times. Even today, the historical novels are written with the sensibilities of our own era. Without the grounding in our time, authors of the past would have a hard time being published.
Before I’m peppered by complaints that I don’t respect the classics – I do! I learn from them and enjoy them.
There are approximately 20 Master Plots, the classics help accustom us to the plots that make the writing timeless. Ronald Tobias (click on the link for full details), author of 20 Master Plots, and how to build them, summarizes the list.
- The Riddle
- Forbidden Love
- Wretched Excess
As writers, our job is to take one or multiple plots and make them fresh and interesting. Knowing these basic building blocks are invaluable.
Can you identify and summarize the plots at work in your project?
We need to avoid being stuck in the sticky cobwebs in the past. We are now the trailblazers. Our view points and observations of our society is what makes us stand out.
Much like the student painter, striving to learn technique from the masters, trying to be exactly like a Dorothy L. Sayers or a Jane Austen or a HG Wells, will only mark us as novices.
Let’s not get stuck in the webs of the past. Let’s blaze forth and make our marks on the world.
- Austen Addict Ramblings About Originality (herstorycalls.com)
- Thinking about: “The Marriage Plot” by Jeffrey Eugenides (thyrkas.wordpress.com)