• Member Since 1st Aug, 2014
  • offline last seen August 20th

LegionPothIX


Discomfort is the feeling of horizons expanding against a closed mind.

More Blog Posts15

  • 4 weeks
    Visual Reference Guide

    From time to time various bits of imagery are sufficiently important warrant a physical representation, since MLP:FIM is primarily a visual medium, so I've created this listing to be updated as the need arises. Typically, this will include cutiemarks of characters in my stories as I publish them. Since this was growing larger than my main page needed, it's now here as projected.

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    0 comments · 11 views
  • 287 weeks
    CA: Theming

    A continuation of my Cumulative Advice for Writers blog, introducing one of the core elements of writing.

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    2 comments · 498 views
  • 288 weeks
    Still alive, still writing, and still kicking and screaming.

    Many may know I say that I write, and write, and write, but find I haven't published anything like the amount of stuff I've claimed to have written. Well, there's a reason for that, but I thought it was worth mentioning what it is I am actually working on, and what I'm working on is three stories at the same time; which can be

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    0 comments · 215 views
  • 288 weeks
    Outline: To Cure Deception

    Continuing on my work of providing examples for my Cumulative Advice blog, no advice is in need of examples more than Outlines. My previous outline posted for DotFR followed the format I call "Proof of Concept" being structured very much the same way a mathematical proof is. Different stories need different styles of

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    0 comments · 319 views
  • 289 weeks
    CA: Three Roles

    This extension of my Cumulative Advice for New Writers Blog helps distinguish and disambiguate three frequently used terms: Pre-Reader, Proof-Reader, and Editor. The goal of which is to help identify what each term means (through reference), so that when a writer is seeking help they know exactly what kind of help they

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    2 comments · 377 views
Sep
10th
2015

CA: Narrative as Communication · 2:07am Sep 10th, 2015

A continuation of my Cumulative Advice blog. This session we tackle not only what makes a story, but also why.

Time, time, and time again I raise the question "why" when authors are asking for help in the various groups I'm a part of. It is the most important question we could ask. A statement that is itself a tautology, because either you agree, or you ask "why" I think it is. The question "why" is so prevalent in our society that it is frequently omitted from our mind. It's built into the very method of every day communication, and it is inherent to the nature of a story.

It is this inter-connectivity through "why" that leads me to claim narrative as a form of communication, and let me tell you why that is.

In the above claim I outlined how we communicate. I claimed a thing to be true, and you either agree or disagree. If you disagree then you'd reasonably ask for me to explain myself. If I respond with reasons you again have the choice to make: do these reasons satisfy you or not. If they don't then I've failed to convince you of why these reasons back my claim. Ultimately this method of communication has been studied and mapped, and is referred to as the Toulmin Model.

Any form of direct communication typically carries with it the implicit claim that what a person is saying is worth a listener's time to hear, as well as being worth the "speaker"s time to convey. The same is true of stories. That claim: "I want to write a story." is backed by the evidence "I find this idea worth writing about." Subsequently, the claim: "You should read my story." is a claim made implicitly due to the existence of a story, and is one that carries the very same attached "why" statement of "because you too may find it interesting."

When we create a narrative, we should do so with these ideas in mind. The question "why this narrative", or "why this theme", as well as "why these characters" and "why these events" are ones of inter-connected interest. We may have a narrative concept, and a theme we feel is appropriate to delivering on that concept, but an audience may not agree unless we can communicate to them why they should. The same could be said of events, and why characters are chosen for the story, as well as why they choose to get involved in said events.

The question why is the mater of the warrant. It is facilitates the arrest of our attention, as well as the bridge between the claim "this narrative is interesting", and the events of the narrative itself. It is all to easy to say "I have a story I wish to tell" and have that be the end of the notion of narrative as communication. Often times such a sentiment is followed up with "and if you don't like it you can fuck right off."

While true, it undermines the very nature of sharing the idea one sets out with when telling a story: that the story is worth the audience's time to read. The mindset of the optional "fuck right off" undermines the very principle of generating interest by virtue of placing the responsibility of the warrant, the "why" people should like your story, on the shoulder of the reader.

Ideally, when communicating effectively, a story will implicitly tell the audience "you'll have damn good reasons to either like, or hate, my story based on your personal preferences." while focusing on helping the reader come to a decision before their time is invested/wasted on it.

When we involve any element of our story in the story itself, we should try to do so in a manner that aids in the conveying of our implicit narrative promise: this means something, this is part of why this story is interesting. This is part of my promise to you, oh reader, to respect you and your time.

That said, the question of when to use implicit or explicit, direct or indirect, communication when following through is up to your own personal style. When raising questions for the audience, there is the implication that the answer to a question will be given, and with it reasons why that answer is what it is, as well as why it is relevant to the narrative as a whole. Sometimes this speaks to a character's motivations, while other times its a question of foreshadowing events.

Ultimately the question of communicating effectively, of telling a meaningful story, is making sure every aspect has at least some meaning that contributes to your goal, narrative concept, or theme. That, and making sure that the audience understands why these things contribute. There should never be a point where we could need to ask "why" and not get an answer.

Why? Because narrative is a form of communication.

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