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Inspired: What fiction writers learn from Michelangelo and Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones

Indiana Jones

Legend has it that Michelangelo conducted autopsies to heighten his understanding, and thus his art, of the human body. Fiction writers must also conduct autopsies, though their subjects are stories. Compelling, intricate, luscious stories.

I’m reading and watching a lot of fiction as I prepare to write Where the Light Enters during National Novel Writing Month. As I read and watch, I sketch the story. At the end of every scene, I answer these questions:

  • Whose POV is represented?
  • What happens?
  • What did I learn about the characters and the story?
  • What were the interesting turns of phrase and images?
  • What did I learn about the characters through their actions?
  • How did it end?
  • What questions am I asking that move me to keep reading and watching?

At the end, I answer these questions:

  • What was the story about?
  • What happened?
  • Who’s story is it?
  • Do I care and if so, why?
  • What questions remain?
  • Did I get what was promised at the beginning of the story? And what was it?

This exercise is immensely valuable and fun.Like Indiana Jones, an archeologist who digs in the dirt for buried treasure, I’m discovering the bone structure, value, and meaning of the words that comprise page-turning books.

What have your learned about writing from reading?

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About Christa Avampato

I make a living in business and I make a life as a writer, artist, and yogi. I use my business and storytelling skills to build a better world. My first novel, Emerson Page and Where the Light Enters, will be published in the Fall of 2017 by Thumbkin Prints, a children's and YA imprint of Possibilities Publishing Co. My creative career has stretched across Capitol Hill, Broadway theatre, education, nonprofit fundraising, health and wellness, and Fortune 500 companies in retail, media, and financial services. In every experience, I have used my sense of and respect for elegant design to develop meaningful products, services, program, and events to help people live happier, healthier lives. A recovering multi-tasker, I am a proud alum of UPenn (BA) and the Darden School at UVA (MBA). When not in front of my Mac, I’m on my yoga mat, walking my rescue dog, Phineas, traveling with a purpose, or practicing the high-art of people watching. I am proud to New York City my home, and I've been called the happiest New Yorker by friends and strangers alike. They're right. Follow my adventures on Twitter at https://twitter.com/christanyc and Instagram at https://instagram.com/christarosenyc.

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I'd love to know what you think of this post! Please leave a reply and I'll get back to you in a jiffy! ~ CRA

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