MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #15

       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.

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MY SECOND NOVEL BLOG #14.

THE EMOTIONAL CANVAS AS A PLOT.

              In my last blog , I had discussed some factors that decide how the  plot unfolds. The stress in that blog was on how novelist’s  own sensibility shapes her/his subconscious drives.  It is  this confluence of these two factors ,the  conscious and the subconscious , that works on the  inherent possibilities of the core of the story.  The stress, however, was on the novelist. In this blog , I would focus on the  inherent  possibilities of core of the plot. I would try to show how every plot has its inbuilt structure. Of course  , I would use my forthcoming novel as an example of this approach.

             The core of any plot consists of balance between diverse narrative elements. To readers , these elements appear in the form of different characters and their interactions in the form of chain of events. However , from author’s perspective , the core consists of diverse elements in the form of emotions.  Thus from  the reader’s perspective,  the characters and the events involving them must be  balanced. Similarly  , from the novelist’s perspective  , different emotions must be balanced. In both the cases , the most important thing is how these elements are balanced against one another. The notion of balance in the literary context is  presence of different emotions pulling the  characters in different directions.  However  , these different pulls are so arranged that the characters retain their continuity.  These characters go through changes but in a smooth manner.  This is possible because these different pulls are balanced against one another.  Thus  while each character evolves smoothly as the novel progresses, there is a constant tussle between these different emotions beneath the apparently smooth evolution of each character.

            Thus the novelist, converts these different, and often divergent ,emotions into different characters by the process of personification.    Thus there is a similarity between what reader reads and what a novelist creates. While the novelist is trying to balance out different emotions into an internally balanced narrative, what reader gets is description of different characters interacting with one another in the way that overall there is a sense of balance. Of course  , the novelist doesn’t create  one character for each emotion. Rather,  the novelist bundles several emotions into different characters. As one can see , novel, in its totality , becomes a fabric woven out of several threads.  The tapestry that the reader perceives is the overall picture or the novel.  The novelist , on the other hand , is more concerned about the process of weaving. Of course , the novelist has certain  tapestry in mind while weaving  , but sometimes  even the novelist is surprised by some unintended tapestry that emerges in the final outcome.

            I can tell you that this element of surprise also happened in my case. In my first novel , there is a dream sequence wherein two central characters share a common dream.  When I had originally planned that , I  was trying to write about the common dream as a metaphor. However ,  after writing that dream sequence,  I realized that it  predicted the future of the protagonist of the novel. At the time of writing that dream sequence , I had not even thought about the climax of the novel. However , that dream sequence itself  planned out the climax without I being aware of it. In my forthcoming novel  , which I have finished half way through , there is one character who seems to have memories which are apparently from her past births. However, the  protagonist  , being a down to earth chartered accountant,  has his own doubts. To me, as a novelist  , this is a device to create different conflicting emotions in the mind of the  protagonist. On one hand  , his skepticism prevents him for  believing the recollection of past births  memories. On the other hand , his own emotional attachment to this character having these memories  forces him to believe that such memories are real. For me , the balance between these conflicting emotions is  important as a  novelist.  However  , when the readers would read this novel  ,  they would see how the protagonist evolves as the novel  progresses. I can confess right now  that the protagonist is developing a perspective which I did not plan for.

           From the  paragraphs written above , one  might think  that  what the  novelist wants to show would be  visible to readers as well. However  , the novelist  can not depict all the emotions in every details.  This is not  possible even with  personification. It is true that personification helps to embed several unspoken emotions into a single character.  Thus  personification helps in creating emotional depth by submerging  several hidden emotions in the character. However , sometimes this is not sufficient.  To  unravel the entire  emotional canvas , sometimes it is necessary to introduce an element of extreme  intensity. From  emotional perspective  , this could be in the form of trauma or ecstasy. Therefore the  novelist sometimes creates extreme emotions in one of the characters.  This would disturb the balance  mentioned above. In order to regain the balance  , the other emotions present in the emotional canvas have to change.  It is this introduction of one extreme emotion and the subsequent changes in other elements of the emotional canvas that creates the novel. It is  necessary that this disturbance and ensuing changes in the canvas be visible to readers. The reader , by the process of self identification , internalises the emotional canvas and its changes. This is the essence of tragedy in fiction. The novelist introduces tragedy so that  it’s impact on all the characters is visible. While trying to understand the behaviour of these characters while facing tragedy,  the reader grasps the emotional canvas.  Thus , on the surface , the  novel is driven by the  plot.  However , at a subconscious level , the novel is driven by the emotional canvas and how it regains its balance.

            In my forthcoming novel , the  protagonist experiences trauma.  His  emotional canvas gets damaged.  How he copes with it and whether his emotional canvas regains its balance  is the core of the  novel. The traumatic event and its reflection in  emotions of the  protagonist are , in fact , symbolic of human existence.  We live  without being aware of our own selves.  It is the tragedy and trauma that forces us to face ourselves .The tragedies of our lives open up our hidden  strengths and weaknesses. They offer insights into who we are.   To an extent , the fiction does it too.

         In my next blog  , I would discuss more about my forthcoming novel.