Saturday, January 17, 2015

Armature

You first learned about armatures in an eighth-grade electric shop class, where aspects of the physical world were happening so fast, you could scarcely take them all in, much less begin to draw comparisons.  An armature plays an important part in an electric motor by carrying current at certain times.  

In actual fact, this was the class where you learned the difference between motor and engine, using them interchangeably until Mr. White shook his head, no.  In additional fact, this was the beginning point for you about the use of armature in story.

You next heard the word used in an art appreciation class, where armature became the supportive structure about which a sculpting or construction was wrapped.  Listening to the teacher, Miss Parcels, describing the winding of medium and media about the armature, you still didn't have the ability to see far enough ahead to make the use of it you do now.  But you were impressed with the process, knew it was important to keep in mind.

Something you wrote in an essay test,using the concept of an armature having things wrapped about it, brought you a red circle from the teacher and a good! in the margin.  It was normal then and now for you to be suspicious of such markings, but the memory of that particular good! has remained with you, perhaps because of another metaphor you picked up from that electric shop class.  

This is the concept of iron filings being drawn to a magnet.  If you happened to have a horseshoe-shaped magnet in your possession, you could in fact turn the ends of said magnet upward, place a sheet of writing paper over the protruding ends, dump some iron filings on the paper, then watch the iron filings rearrange themselves in a demonstration of magnetic waves.

The cycles of connection have moved forward, bringing you past eighth-grade electric shop into Mr. Quick's creative writing class, and your exposure to certain responsibilities incumbent on the writer when creating characters.  The eleventh-grade you had finally found a place to bring armature home to stay.  Creating a character is wrapping media about an armature.  

The electric motor and the artistry of sculpting or papier-mache merged.  A well-constructed character hummed with the electric energy of a motor.  A yanked-off-the-street character had no dimension, no energy, nothing but words of description, leaving you as a dog-paddle writer in a pool of Australian crawl and butterfly swimmers, able to keep afloat, but an obvious huffer and puffer.

Character is one of the most important elements in a story, an observation you believed for the longest time was the most important.  Used properly, character gives you actual story.  Proper use becomes this:  Story results when two or more characters appear, each considering himself or herself to be right.

Before you knew this, your narratives were not yet true stories, they were encounters, perhaps even episodes.  Story begins when a character yearns for something to the point of being impatient, even desperate for it--now  The more impatient and desperate the character becomes, the more the character believes the time has come to acquire or achieve the goal, now, by any means, including means that extend beyond fair or legal.  All these traits, qualities, and conditions must be wrapped about the armature of such characters.

Thus the armature for most characters has something to do with desire.  This means you start with an armature of desire or need, electrified to the point of yearning.  The wrappings of yearning call for layers of focus bordering on fixations or compulsions which leak through their wrappings to the point where the leak convinces the character that this yearning can no longer be contained.  If the character does not get the goal or begin an organized attempt to secure the goal, then there will be disaster.

Start with the armature, then begin wrapping.  Some characters are so wound up that they cannot see through the layers in order to recognize the thing yearned for.  Often it is some accident, some inadvertent collision or association that triggers the recognition.  Then the character realizes the hold over him or her the yearned for result holds.

Then the fun, and the story, begins.

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