In literally every art form, there is a certain mechanic aspect that births what we refer to as aesthetics. For writing, though all stories are made up of words and letters, not all writing are read with the same beauty. You can give two writers exactly the same story to tell and end up with two different looking scripts because writers vary in style. The mechanics aspect of writing covers a range of facets that come together to make up a story. Most notably in this aspect of writing is a writer’s use of language. Have you ever read a book with imagery so real you could almost swear you were in the story or that you could smell the scene being described? Or perhaps you read a sentence and literally feel a tingle down your spine? Of the many contemporary writers today, Chimamanda has to be my favorite when it comes to mechanics and I have come to believe more than anything else, this is what has set her apart from her peers.
Unfortunately for writers, the mechanical element of writing is by far the most difficult to cultivate because it requires so much practice. This is where your 10,000 hours and more is dedicated to and it never ends. Learning how to paint scenes, evoke emotion with words, pass on philosophical ideas without sounding pretentious or spoon-feeding the reader. You will just have to read and write more if you want to get better at this.
More fortunately for writers, character has shown to be arguably the strongest factor of the four when it comes to winning over readers. Readers will follow a story to any end if they have developed a relationship with the characters. If you have ever found yourself not thinking ‘what will happen’ in the story, but ‘what will happen to the character’ then you know how strongly we can be drawn to characters. Learning to create believable characters that can be empathized and sympathized with by the reader comes mostly from understanding humans. Characters with absolutely no flaws as protagonists can be a bit annoying and difficult to relate to. Characters like King Geoffrey of Game of Thrones have their place, but against the likes of The Joker, it becomes clear that even antagonists can be favorites.
Finding the right balance of attributes to give to characters, and this includes their pattern of speech, like with Jack Reacher in the Lee Child novels famous for the line ‘Jack said nothing’ to little habits like Sherlock Holmes smoking a pipe go a long way to create an image in the reader’s mind. Attention also has to be paid to consistency of character. While there are cases where characters may surprise the reader, if it comes off as being completely out of character, the reader might start to distrust the character. Making a list of your favorite characters and why you like them is always a good place to start when learning about characters.
I will be writing indept posts on each of the factors later on, but I hope this little introduction has been helpful. Let me know what you think.