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.