Thursday, May 16, 2013

Number Three, In Which We Learn About Peripeteia

I was recently reading an article called the Art of Being Wrong by Henry Shukman in Tricycle magazine. The article, at length, discusses the concept of peripeteia as described by Aristotle. This idea is a complete reversal of circumstances or a turning point and is most often used to describe elements in literature.

In essence, the author talked about how much we appreciate a sudden shift in point of view by the character we connect with in the process of reading a novel. This is the moment when the character realizes that everything he or she thought was one way is, in fact, another. The reason we appreciate this, says Shukman, is because we understand the importance of it in our own lives. Unless we understand that we were wrong in some belief, and accept that we must change it, we never learn. Being wrong is essential to our development as human beings and our betterment of ourselves.

Of course, a good deal of us are very resistant to being wrong. We want to think that we are always right, especially those of us married men who accept the right-ness of our spouses (and secretly "know" that we are right). But until we make that realization that our own human value is not directly tied to be always right but is in fact a self-designed, internal part of ourselves and allow ourselves to be wrong, we will never learn and advance, nor will we ever approach enlightenment.

I think it's also important in designing a story to keep this in mind. As we write, our goal is to produce something that feels human (assuming you are, in fact, writing a human character) and we must understand the human experience thoroughly enough to design a believable character. I am a firm lover of excellent characterization, and a great character-driven story is what I love to read, and what I strive to write. Thus, it is very important for me to understand this and many other sides to the human psyche and experience.

In the end, it is interesting where one can find writing help and advice. The value of reading...

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