Sunday, February 20, 2011


   "What" has become a favored word for you.

     There is a majestic impertinence to what as it emerges in some thread of counterpoint to the events of the present moment, some of these moments perhaps instigated by you,but other moments more slow, inexorable statements from well before the events that brought you here, writing this or, for that matter, here at all.

     At the same time a question and a particular, specific thing, what, by its purposeful nature, leads you to expectations and their consequences.  If you know anything at all about drama, you know individuals have expectations; these lead them to actions which--bingo!--have consequences.  So this is what you want?  On the more confrontational side, "what" leads us to What do you want?, causing you to ponder your own long- and short-term goals.

     Imagine two characters sitting together.  "What?''  one character says.  "What, what?"  the other says.  "When I say what, I do not expect to be answered with two whats.  I expect--"  "What?"

     Imagine three characters.


     All of them wanting to know.  Wanting to know what?

     Try to write a story in which there is no what, not even a trace of whatever.

     What's with you, anyway?

     What's going on here?

     What's this?

     I'm going to give him what for.

     Okay, you have convinced yourself.  What is a splendid word for your tool kit.  It may seem neutral at first, but repeated with mounting insistence or curiosity or impatience, what can be the capstone of story.  Holding things in place by its authoritative weight and imposing directness.

     What is the cork, holding the genie imprisoned in the bottle.  What are you doing in there in the first place.

     Try beginning a writing session with that single most important word.

1 comment:

Storm Dweller said...

What is that Genie in the bottle, that potential to learn that what we want, what we wish for, what we expected, might not be, in fact, is most certainly not what it seemed. And the consequences are what we hope for in a good story, even as our characters throw their hands up in the air and ask, "What in the hell just happened here?"