Elemental Writing: Earth


Image source: The Avatar Wiki

Here we are at the last element, the stable one. We can feel safe knowing that we’ve gotten this far. After all, of all the elements, which can you stand on with no fear of falling? That’s right. Earth.

Earth represents the things we can feel most confident are really there, the ones that won’t disappear unless we give them up. They’re the physical things: money, a house, a healthy body. Symbolically, it also stands for the desire for those things. People need to know that these possessions are safe, because without them they have no foundation for the other things in life. This is what we cling to.

Earth-based characters are usually the plain, easy-to-understand type. They’re dependable, but that can go too far into stubbornness. What they believe is what they believe: they’ll stand, steadfast. Oddly enough, very few of them show hints of being preoccupied with physical goods–a trait that earth tends to symbolize on other levels.

Is your earth in balance? Depending on the reason you write, it might not be at the moderate place it needs in order to avoid crumbling. If you write mainly for yourself and to entertain, then you may be in danger of putting it too far ahead of other things. You still need to make a living at the same time. And in the bodily sense, an obsession with writing can also affect your health. I’m guilty of being so preoccupied with it that I forget to eat! Don’t sacrifice everything in order to write–or you’ll lose your ability to sit down and do it.

On the other hand, some people go too far. If your main goal is to sell lots of books and make lots of money, that’s okay. But you have to remember that our trade isn’t a get-rich-quick scheme, and even if it was, money can’t buy happiness. It can only buy security. If security is what you want, great! Just don’t get so wrapped up in it that you tie yourself up.

If you’ve been following this series, you know what comes next: what’s the role of earth in the story? I would call earth the standards that exist among published works. Everyone knows that you have to have some kind of beginning, middle and end to your story, even if they’re not necessarily in chronological order. I think it’s pretty clear that you can’t just scribble a picture of your character, slap the title on it and print it all out at home and call that a book. There’s a lot of wiggle room in storytelling, but it’s all built on a foundation of basic ideas that you need to stick to. Especially if you really do want the money.

That wraps up the talk about earth, and, in turn, the bigger discussion about the roles of the four classical elements in writing. It’s been a lot of fun and very enlightening for me, too–if you know me, you know that I rarely share things unless I’m learning something in the process. I used a few different resources for this series, but I’d like to thank Raven’s Tarot Site in particular. I know that may seem a little on the mystical side, but in my opinion the Tarot is something that’s worth learning even if you never plan to use it. To find out why, check out my post on the subject on the Obscure Authors Alliance website.

Categories: Fiction Tips, The Writing Life, and Writing Tips.

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