Elemental Writing: Fire


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Fire. The purest form of energy. Creation and destruction in one ever-changing thing. It’s the most primitive element, the one that can’t be grasped, and yet civilization is born from those that learned to tame it. It symbolizes change, creativity and passion. It’s the spirit that drives man’s greatest endeavors.

Characters tied to the element of fire are usually portrayed as strong-willed people with short tempers. And while it’s true that, when overused, fire can lead people to be overbearing, it is more often than not the characteristic of a good leader. They’re usually the ones who are ambitious and eager to take risks, and at their best they can set their companions aflame with the same tenacity.

For us writers, fire often represents the beginning of something. You know when you suddenly get that idea that grips you, and you absolutely have to get writing it? Later, after you’ve written for a while, you might feel a crash. That’s the fire in you, bursting with creative potential from the start only to die down later. Fire is what makes people excited, what drives them to go after their goals.

So how can you keep your fire going? One way is to give it a base in the other elements before you get started, but I’ll cover them later. Besides, more than likely if you’re worried about this, your fire is already practically out. To rekindle it, you’ll have to come back to the beginning of your idea and remind yourself why you were so excited about it in the first place. Was it a certain character? The setting? Or an ingenious plot device?

Whatever it was, think about it again. Focus your story back on that and make sure you aren’t leaving out any of the aspects that made it the great idea you once had. As an aspect of the story itself, fire is the concept that your story began from. That’s the source of your plot, and it should be the source of your motivation, too.

Remember, fire is the force of creation and transformation. It makes for strong, leaderly characters, tenacious writers, and represents the concept that gets readers hooked.

Next week, I’ll be back to talk about the next element: air.

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

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