1 min read

Parts of the Whole

When I tell people about our program, one of the most frequent questions is: how do you keep the story consistent throughout a book when six people are writing it?

In my (cough) modest apartment, I see parts rather than wholes. The shower head isn’t sleek: it’s clearly divided by small metal circles; our crumbling teal tiles have no business in our cream bathroom; the kitchen looks like it was designed by someone close to a nervous breakdown.

This is exactly what you don’t want. If the parts don’t add up to a cohesive whole, nobody will want to take in what you make. That’s why in narrative fiction we hammer home the journey from one emotional state to the other, and why we name character as the cohesive bond that brings together all parts and that every part refers back to eventually.

A character takes a bite of bread. Why is this significant? To be part of the whole, it must relate back to her character: maybe she’s hungry. Why? She just fought a monster. Why? To save her village. Why? Because she wants to prove to her parents that she’s able to fight on her own. Okay, that’s part of a whole. But if she takes a bite of bread just cuz, that's going to lead to other, more atrocious just cuz’s until you’re really off track.

The way we keep the story consistent across writers is character. We can deviate from the plot (to a point), but if the motivation behind a character’s action doesn’t add up to the whole, that’s the ball game.

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