Ronald B. Tobias wrote:
“Ideas are like the wind; they have force, they have energy, but they rarely have much shape.”
Needless to say that as writers we are aware of the major elements of storytelling: plot, character, style, idea, mood or emotional effect. Of the different theme patterns, none affects us more than the idea. It makes us think.
As authors, we flourish on ideas, new and old. But we can’t force our readers to think in a certain way. We can only make them think about or contemplate our ideas. And if we can convince them to like our ideas through the unique way we present them, then we have succeeded and that’s what makes us stand out and be different.
Yesterday I finished the book I was reading. It was a book by one of the contemporary writers that I love to read. He writes crime fiction, kind of Sherlock Holmes type stories. I love his style, the way he writes about the dark side of human beings, the way he explores the connection between unrestrained desire and agonizing violence. The way he surprises his readers with his ideas. (Sorry I won’t give his name nor the name of the book, because as I said I love the way he writes.)
But in this book of his, the theme, the idea behind the story was so not believable, even for a dreamer like me. At some point in the book the writer was so present in the story that I thought of just leaving it. But then his words and sentences kept me on till the end.
There’s a famous story about a French impressionist painter and a famous French symbolist poet that I find interesting and would like to share with you.
“You writers have it easy,” mocked the painter. “All you need is a few ideas and a pen. Now, painting is hard. Every brushstroke is one-of-a-kind, not like words- they’re always the same.”
“If it’s so easy, why don’t you write some poems?” challenged the poet.
“All right, I will.” The painter accepted the challenge, and steamed off to his studio to write his great poems.
Several weeks went by before the poet bumped into the painter at their favorite watering hole. From the painter’s sheepish grin, the poet guessed things weren’t going well for his friend.
“Written any good poems lately?” the poet teased.
“I don’t understand it,” confessed the painter, still puzzled by his aborted attempt to write poetry. “I had good ideas. They just wouldn’t turn out right on paper.”
“That’s because you don’t start with ideas,” the poet smiled knowingly. “You begin with words.”