Kat: Juggling Act (Oh, Balls)


From Wikimedia Commons Author: ILA-boy

It’s crunch time at my day job this week, and I’ve had no time or energy to write a good post. So, today is rerun day. I thought the “juggling” metaphor particularly apt since that’s what I’ve been doing for the past eight months as I’ve tried to meet the demands of my day job while fulfilling my writing commitments.

The good news is, in five days, the project that has consumed my life, will (for better or worse) launch. The bad news: I’ll have a whole new set of headaches, er…challenges as I try to support this new application.

I promise my next post will be new, but until then, here’s an oldie but goodie (slightly revised).

Writing a good story is a lot like juggling.  Both require the manipulation of objects like balls (or words) to convey the artist’s vision to others. Most importantly, both require keeping at least three balls in the air at once.

When I began writing, I sat at my keyboard and let the brilliant (ahem) ideas roll off my fingertips. I didn’t so much juggle balls as throw them at the wall to see what looked pretty up there.  I was clueless about what I consider to be the writing equivalent of the three-ball cascade. Escalating conflict (red ball) dials up the tension in the reader and moves the story forward in a way that makes the reader care about the protagonist. Turning points (yellow ball) ends one-act and begins another turning the story in a whole new direction. Directly connecting scenes or sequence of events (green ball)  transforms the story from a bunch of unrelated things that happen into a seamless, interdependent whole.

I know I’m missing a bunch of balls here (sounds sort of naughty) like structure (which some might consider the blue ball—aka strangled creativity), or character arc, which may be the ball that brings the whole mess down on my head.

Juggling what I consider to be the vital three (red, green, yellow) is enough right now, and the good news is, I’m keeping those three in the air. Consequently my story vision has actually taken shape on the page and I know now what comes next: the way my characters will change as the story progresses, the tone and feeling my story will invoke, and a satisfying slam-bang finish.

What story elements are you having difficulty juggling right now?

3 thoughts on “Kat: Juggling Act (Oh, Balls)

  1. Characterization. There are so many goddamn balls just right there . . . a history, a motivation, a goal. And then we get to the voice, the movements, the actual actions. And how does she dress? And what does she do with her hair? Not all of it will go in the story, but I have to see her in order for any of it to get into the story in a natural way. Multiply this by six major characters . . . .

    • That’s a boat load of balls right there 🙂

      I sympathize, although I think characterization may be my strong suit. Character arc is a different story…

      • (-: You do write vivid characters. I think we all have balls that we don’t even regard as balls because they aren’t difficult for us . . . and then there are the balls that seem like they have a mind of their own, like Harry Potter’s Bludger, ready to beat us into a pulp . . . .

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