They are the foundation of all writing. Every story, essay, poem, any piece of writing at all needs a skeleton to hold it up and guts to give it essence.
But that’s only the beginning. If we want a living, breathing organism that can survive on its own, we need all the vital organs (especially a heart and a brain) and blood; and skin to hold it all together.
It can have as many or as few legs and arms and eyes as you like and any hair colour or no hair at all, just as long as it can breathe.
I read a short story I am working on last night. I read it out loud, which is the best way to figure out if it flows and if it is written in a suitable voice.
I read it and knew something was missing and I knew that I needed more detail. The image in my head wasn’t on the page in front of me yet. I hadn’t translated it well enough. But only this morning on my way to work did it occur to me what my actual problem was and how to fix it.
My story was mostly guts and bones and a few patches of skin.
I walked to the bus telling myself to hold that thought. It was vital. It made so much sense. And whilst it might not be the most visually appealing analogy, it summarizes the problem well enough.
I want my stories to be able to live on their own and send them into the world to touch another human being. But whilst they can be flawed, they cannot be missing their life blood.
Somehow I feel as if I just made an important breakthrough in my own becoming of a writer. I think I might have known all this all along, but have neither put it in so many words nor written in accordance with it, not nearly enough.
Having discovered this, I look at my writing in a different light. I have some work ahead on the stories I am currently working on and can evaluate those I have already completed (or so I thought).
It’s strangely satisfying to open your eyes all of a sudden and see something that was there all along, but you have missed it until now.