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The Yin & Yang of Writing Fiction

The Yin & Yang of Writing Fiction

plotting prose writing skills Nov 25, 2023

The Yin & Yang, an intricate concept of Chinese philosophy, which in simple terms highlights the universal balance of duality existing in all things in the physical world. There are many facets of life that it may be applied to including the masculine and the feminine, the sun and the moon and the hot and the cold, however, it is most known as a reminder that without the dark there would be no light. 

One may recognise its principles as running parallel with the notion of ‘opposites attract’, the opposing sides of the circle are complementary to one another and within each of them lies an essential part of its adversary’s life force.

 

YIN -  the slow, the dark and the feminine 

Associated with: rest, nurturing, hibernation

 

YANG - the fast, the light and the masculine

Associated with: productivity, heat, positivity

 

Yeah, it's great, but what's it got to do with writing?

 

No matter what genre we’re talking about, readers will have certain expectations as to what will occur and when. Most works follow a proven formula thanks to their ability to engage readers and keep the plot firmly co-ordinated. No different to any of the universal concepts mentioned above, we have the Yin & Yang to credit for this.

Let’s identify some of the potential YinYang elements in a typical three act structure

 

Yin   Yang

Set up      Inciting Incident     Second Thoughts     Plot Point 1      Realisation    Obstacle/Pinch Point      Realisation     Midpoint      Obstacle/Pinch Point 2       Disaster/Crisis      Plot Point 2         Descending Action   Climax      Wrap Up 

 

 

Take this diagram with a massive pinch of salt and for the purposes as to how I as an individual would view each section, however as you can see, there’s equal measure to the negative and positive points throughout. On the whole, although there certainly are exceptions, a story that’s all rise and no fall would fail to be as effective at hooking your undivided attention as one that finds a steady balance between the both. 

A pay off where the protagonist walks away with the prize wouldn't mean a thing without having them experience a dark night of the soul first. An essential factor of connecting with fictional worlds and people is that we forget they aren’t real, even in the most far-fetched of tales, the thing that keeps us turning the pages is emotional connection. And without a stabilised honouring of the good and the bad, it would be a struggle for the reader to establish any kind of connection that’s strong enough to last throughout the whole thing.

 

Now we’ve covered the basics…

Did you know your words can change the world?

 

Apart from babaganoush, wordivism is my favourite word, ever, and that can be credited tremendously to its ability to give the power of changemaking to anyone who partakes in any form of wordart, be it fiction or non-fiction, spoken word or comedy. The creator of said words doesn’t even have to be aware of the potential they are seeding for their words to make a difference in their community or the greater world, all they have to do is stand true to their message - whether it be heartfelt, political, educational or perspective based.

Fiction that outlines the anguish of society can bring a necessary awareness to subjects that otherwise might not reach particular audiences, where on the flip side of the coin, novels with an optimistic outlook can spark joy and hope in those that wouldn’t be able to find it elsewhere. Authors are the weavers of words and our intentions can seep into the souls of, potentially, a large scale of individuals we will never meet.

Once I understood this one fact, the levels of hopelessness I had felt in regards to the insignificance of impact I could make against centuries of control and deceit -  far bigger than the walnut in my head can begin to comprehend -, started to decay into nothing and I was able to reclaim my power back.

 

With balance being the focus, of course...

 

For me, the things I want to say about this world are endless, and with corruption and injustice being my main areas of focus, my work isn’t particularly subtle. If I don’t take a gentler approach than I would initially like, my readers would be running a mile in an eco-anxiety drenched sweat. 

So how do I avoid the much-necessary, albeit abrupt, finger-pointing from obliterating my chances of delivering my message in a way it can safely be received by anyone aligned with receiving it? I sprinkle a sustainable balance of innovative and carefully engineered solutions on top of the heavy junk, knowing that no matter how dark a topic goes, and vice versa, there’s always its counterpart to even it back out.

 

And that’s what the Yin & Yang is all about

 

I’m going to take you on a little visualisation journey now. Picture this:

A coming of age novel, aimed at young adults, with deeply rooted themes of going against one’s primal instincts and societal expectations, the ethical considerations of doing what’s right in a dog eat dog world and setting an example for future generations to follow.

Imagine it presented as: 

A cutesy tale about the blossoming of a wholehearted friendship between a Lion and a happy-go-lucky, injured Zebra, presented similarly to a children's book as a stylistic choice

Fits the criteria in a way unique enough to grab the attention of those that prefer their entertainment with a fluffy edge, delivering themes in an approachable way that can at times put the audience’s feelings at risk in fear of the Zebra’s safety, but overall smashing their preconceived notions of the Lion’s true nature with a hard hit.

Versus this:

A gritty thriller following a young, self-proclaimed ‘psychic-justice-killer’ who routinely puts her life in danger by hunting down the most evilest of humans before they reach the stage of killing.

*Note, I think I just accidentally discovered my project for NaNoWriMo, watch this space!*

Matching the criteria with bold moves, unlike the former, this idea is riddled with opportunity for inciting moments of awakening within its readers in a not so pleasant way. It highlights going against the grain and desire for personal safety, as a way of preserving a world where those that come after oneself are free to roam without fear, whilst screaming about the moral issues of wiping someone out who has yet to prove their maleficence.

 

Final thoughts

 

If any of the above has piqued your interest, which it obviously has or else I’ll forever be puzzled as to why you have made it this far, I encourage you to keep the concept close to your heart and dive into it if ever you find yourself feeling lost and are struggling to find your place in the world of storytelling.

As mentioned in the opening, the Yin & Yang can be applied to everything that consists of duality in this life and without equal measures of both, the whole would be incomplete. By keeping this idea in mind when planning future works, you may find that missing elements and plot holes make themselves known in ways they previously hadn’t.

There are so many tangents one could go off on without, hopefully, repeating oneself and growing boring, but I thoroughly recommend watching the documentary “The Mindscape of Alan Moore” if you, like I, have found yourself embezzled in the idea of casting spells of significant change with the words brewing up inside of you.

I must warn you though, without a mindful awareness of balance, it can become extremely addictive and it will take over your life. 

 

 


F. Abika
Written for The Plottery

F. Abika, otherwise known as the hopeful dystopian, is a neurodivergent, all-round creative from Brighton, UK. Born with a head stuck in a realm that doesn’t exist, F has had her head stuck in a screen ever since the moment she was old enough to turn one on. Creative writing has always been an escape from a world that lacked the ability to understand a mind such as hers and after a lifetime of dilly-dallying around future pathways, she has finally settled and is working towards her debut novel Ethereall, the first of a trilogy.

 

 

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