The Three "Rs"---Lesson Two----"Reflection"


A writer's second consideration, and this week's topic, is REFLECTION.

Water reflects the sky, a mirror reflects your image in it, and what is happening? Something which exists is seen from a new angle, from a direction opposed to reality... almost a new reality in itself. No longer in three dimensions, it has been reduced to the plane of a sheet of silvered glass or the dappled surface of a lake or stream. When real objects in the reflection move, the image in the glass or water moves too, but in another dimension, in a way abstracted from the original.

That is one sense of this second "R" word which is crucial to being a writer of creative work. What a creative writer does, part and parcel, is reflect his world in some new way. It cannot be a rounded-out, whole-hog version of that world, because writing lacks direct imposition to some of our senses. For example, it speaks, but not out loud. Things normally heard, songs and sounds, must be implied or evoked through language.

Of course all the other senses must be dealt with in the same manner, but for our purposes today, let's just settle on one, SOUND.

Choose for your topic a sound, or series of sounds. Map out a plan. What sound? Where is it coming from? Do we even know? What does that sound signify? Is it a warning? A signal? Just happenstance? What emotion does the sound evoke? Is it loud, soft, shrill, mellow? Can it be described by comparisons or phrases such as "loud as a steam engine" or "quiet as a mouse"?

Take some careful time FIRST to study your sound. What are its intimate attributes? What makes your sound distinguishable from all others? Is one of its attributes a very high pitch? Perhaps you can emphasize that characteristic by comparing it to others which are very low. Loud/soft? Nearby/faraway? Look for such dichotomies and contrasts and use them.

A valid exercise is to make lists of such attributes down one side of a piece of paper. List as many as you can, and feel free to transpose contexts. Is a sound "orange" as opposed to "blue"? It can be, if you want to look on it that way. The more complete your list becomes, the more detailed, the easier it will be to write because you have dug up the raw material for your personal REFLECTION.

For when I do this, that is the heading I mentally put above my lists.... Reflections. And the second sense of the word then comes into play... contemplative thought. What does all this mean? It generally is obvious to me what these words all mean once I have listed them, and the framework for whatever it is I am to write becomes gelled. Not set into stone, naturally, but given depth and body and purpose.

Finally, I take my list and begin starring items and ideas I hope to incorporate into my work, choosing both likely and unlikely "suspects". And for each starred item a create a phrase that suits my fancy, writing it on the page opposite. I make the word or concept into a tangible statement. The left side might merely list the single adjective "loud". The right might flesh that out into "impossibly loud, incredibly earshattering".

And then I have begun to write. Take some time to try this yourself, and see.

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