THE PERSONIFICATION AS A PLOT.
In my previous blog , I had discussed how emotions form canvas over which the plot unfolds. While the novelist tries to balance the emotional content of the novel , the reader gets to see how different characters develop as the chain of events unfolds. I had mentioned that both these activities , the novelist’s struggle to balance various emotions and readers perception of evolution of various characters run parallel. This happens because the novelist uses a device of personification. In this blog , I would discuss how this device of personification can be seen as a plot itself. In the previous blog , the emphasis was on emotional content as a plot. In the present blog , the emphasis would be on the the process of personification as a plot.
As it was mentioned in the previous blog , the process of personification is not a simple device wherein every emotions get represented as a separate character. The novelist tries to bundle several emotions into each character that is written. It is this process of bundling of several emotions into a character that establishes the creativity of the novelist. A more creative novelist may be able to create a more nuanced bundling of emotions. In that case the character created out of such nuanced bundling of several emotions would have an emotional depth and therefore would be more acceptable.
It is possible that sometimes , the novelist would invest same emotion in several characters simultaneously. Alternatively , the novelist may choose to invest a single emotion in one character thereby creating a one dimensional character. It is this choice of which emotion gets personified and how it gets personified that constitutes the plot. For instance , if the novelist wants to describe a social milieu of a particular time and a particular place. Then the novelist would invest common emotional content in all the characters of the novel. This would appear to readers as an appropriate depiction of the society at that time. Similarly , the novelist would invest conflicting emotions in two different individuals. In that case , readers would perceive the plot as a series of confrontations between these two characters. Here also , the personification acts as a plot.
It is evident from the arguments presented above , that the it is the process of personification that creates a plot.The question therefore arises that how does a novelist go about personifying the emotions ? Does a novelist consciously craft this personification ? or , as suggested in my earlier blogs, it happens at a subconscious level ? Let us see how this works out.
While writing my second novel , which is half complete , I was struck by this aspect of writing a novel. I realized that this may be true , but while creating a plot , I was not conscious of this aspect. At a conscious level , I too was thinking in the way a reader would think. I would wonder what would happen next. For instance , in my novel , the protagonist , who is a chartered accountant by profession , visits a different town to help someone in solving an inheritance dispute. There ,he comes across a phenomenon of reincarnation, or at least what appears to be so. When I began writing that episode , my intention was to show a conflict between the protagonist’s rationality and his infatuation with the his girlfriend. However , once I reached half way through the episode , I was not sure how the episode would end. In that sense , I was behaving like a reader. At that stage , I decided to allow characters to have freedom. Once I allowed myself let go of that sense of control over the characters of my novel, the plot unfolded itself. I can tell you that what happened in that episode was more meaningful than what I had consciously planned earlier. The moral of the story is that novelist must respect the integrity of the personification. The characters , once created by such personification , have their own independent existence and they would behave according to their own compulsions.
Returning to the topic of this blog , this incident opened up a new insight into creative writing for me. A novelist dwells in two worlds simultaneously. On one hand , the novelist is thinking and enjoying a novel just like a reader would do. However , on the other hand , the novelist is struggling with the compulsions of the creative writing that is dominated by this process of personification which is beyond the control of the conscious mind of the novelist. The novelist is , in some sense , condemned to be aware of both , the processes as well as the products , of this device of personification. The creative instinct of a novelist is a zone of twilight. It does not consist of sunshine of enlightenment , nor does it consist of darkness of blind pleasures. The novelist straddles the twilight. She/he uses the device of personification to not only unravel the plot , but also to understand her /his mind.
Incidentally , in my novel , it is the girlfriend of the protagonist , who frequently experiences what appears to be memories of the past births. Whether it is real or not , is the the question that sets the background of the plot.
In my next blog, I would discuss how conflict between rationality and beliefs shapes the protagonist’s life.