Wednesday, October 01, 2008

Writing with the unconscious/subconscious mind

Over the next few days I'm going to be working on the framework of a story for a screenplay. I love this stage in the writing process - right at the beginning when all things are possible.

Writing involves all parts of the mind. Logical thought. Planning. Sensuality. Emotion. The random stuff thrown from the unconscious / subconscious mind. But different stages in the writing process seem to rely more heavily on different aspects. For example, writing close-in description is for me a very sensual process. By which I mean, I have to sense the scene that I am describing. If I am describing a scene in a field of long grass, I have to put myself into it so that I can feel the touch of the grasses, smell the air, be warmed by the sunshine.

And the process of writing the lead-up to the climax of a novel (Act 3, if you like) is one that relies on the conscious, logical mind. I know where the story is going. I am by that stage joining the dots. My subconscious mind may throw in strange ideas, but there is little opportunity to deviate from the existing plan.

Conversely, the opening of a novel or the first stages of planing a screenplay allow huge scope for the subconscious. And that is fun. You never know where it is leading.

There is one more stage to mention. The resolution of a story - after the climax. This is the place where we see how the events of the story have touched the surviving characters. When I am writing a novel, I don't usually know in prospect what will happen in the last half chapter. For that I have to rely on my emotions to guide me and I only know when I get there.


Mosher said...

Do you know what's going to happen in the other half of the chapter or is it really just the character resolution you tie up at the end?

And have you ever had a bad day when you're writing that final draft, looked back a few months later and thought "if I'd had a better night's sleep, or the cat hadn't died or my car hadn't been broken into... that guy would have lived"?

Rod Duncan said...

It is the way the emotional load of the story is delivered in the final thousand words or so that I can't anticipate.

As for bad writing days - the reality is there will be many of these. The discipline is to see the work as of lower standard when you read through it again and to cut it out later. Harder than that, though, is to cut out really great writing which is not serving the story you are telling!