I don’t often watch videos online these days but whenever I do, I tend to gravitate towards food shows. What struck me recently was the emphasis the majority of these shows place upon quality, local ingredients. It made me wonder, what is the equivalent in writing?
For me, the three “pillars” of fiction writing are character, plot, and setting. I’m not sure how I settled on these three – likely a mix of reading and learning over the years – but these pillars are what I have returned to time and again. Perhaps the equivalent is one of these three?
As I pondered this, I also wondered about the equivalent in music. The answer was unsurprisingly in its immediacy: The equivalent to quality ingredients in music were quality melodies. In a way, one could define a song as the evolution and examination of a melody (see my previous post comparing the bridge of a song to the ten of kishoutenketsu).
Stepping back into writing then, the “ingredient” that evolves and/or is examined over the course of a story is character. Additionally, just like in cooking, the quality ingredients that are so highly prized by top chefs are typically local, tied to a specific place. In writing as well, character is tied to setting, both in how setting has affected the character to be who they are and through the relationship of the setting with the story itself.
[The above was also an attempt at essay writing using kishoutenketsu structure. It was an interesting exercise, framing the piece as less of an “argument” but a “revelation.” While lacking in finesse, I found writing this to be a refreshing change of pace.]