Elemental Writing: Water


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The fleeting refreshment in your cup; the unknowable depths of the ocean. Water is in everything, and no matter what we do to it, it never really goes away. It has this tendency to return to its natural state. And, of course, it is the thing that brings us precious life.

Water stands for emotion. Not the burst of feeling that leaps up from fire, either. Water stands as the opposite end of that spectrum, showing us the emotions that are part of us on the inside. These are the things that can be used, drawn from, even sculpted, but in the end, it is nearly impossible to change them completely. Like ice melting and then boiling into steam, they can take on many forms depending on their environment–but they can never stop being water.

This is usually made obvious when you associate a character with water. These people often get swept up in their own emotions, which stem from something within that viewers can’t always see. They can come across as irrational if you don’t know what’s on the inside, but they’re just reacting the way that comes naturally. On a side note, these people almost always have a gift for healing, usually by some form of magic.

Emotion is a really important thing to convey in a story, too. Readers need a reason to care about the person they’re reading about, and whether they succeed. If everything goes right, your hero will be happy; if not, the character will fall into despair. Readers need to know this, and they need to feel it with the character. That can be a feat, but if you can tap into your own emotions and understand people’s motivations, you can go a long way with this.

What’s really tough is getting your own inner water going. As I’ve said before, water is very resistant to change. You can’t mess with the fabric of your identity. Are you cut out to be a writer? Only you can decide that. What kind of story do you care enough to tell? It’s all you. It’s about who you are. I can’t give you advice about that.

Water is about what’s on the inside, in the darkest depths. It’s the power of healing, emotion and personal identity.

Categories: Fiction Tips and Writing Tips.

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