Writers (and any artist, of any kind, in any place)…
It’s our job to keep ’em on the edge.
On the edge means that the tension holds its little fingers outstretched, not quite touching but wanting to touch, its eyes widening and heart beating with the angst, waiting, waiting for the moment to connect and feel that everything’s okay.
Musicians, it’s the suspended 4th or 7th that doesn’t resolve.
Painters, photographers, it’s the image in the mist that one can’t quite make out, making the viewer squint his eyes and imagine, or the line of intricacy pulling the viewer in to the canvas to peer more closely.
Manga artists, illustrators, it’s the image the partial picture obscured from view, half on and half off, running away from the page, pulling across the storyboard, eeking across squares and rectangles, seeping toward the turned page.
Screenwriters, it’s the image with a twist, the dialogue with a bite, the words left dripping with meaning before the cut to.
Writers, it’s the bits of story that keep adding up, still confusing yet beginning to make sense, making the mind search for the why of the scene that rolls and rises and crests into the climax, where the hero gets the external goal and experiences the internal change.
On the edge.
Waiting for the resolution.
It’s a nerve-wracking place to be.
(For the writer, because we have to meet expectations.
For the reader, because it’s downright emotional.)
We actually want this?
Another Yeah. Go figure. It’s curious to me that, in art, readers want nerve-wracking, enticing experiences. As long as the tension is rising, the reader/viewer is with us. We want to push the limits of adrenaline and angst. Readers want to be pulled along, with a thread of constant tension that doesn’t go away but builds into a CRASH. But there’s a good reason. It’s so that when resolve washes over us, it’s more satisfying. Relief.
On the edge works because it’s a universal experience. I contend that it’s a spiritual experience, the God desire for resolution in the deepest parts of who we are. We all wait for the resolution, the clarity, the ability to sit in peace and enjoy, within the senses and within the heart.
BUT (and that’s a BIG BUT)…
In life, the experience of on the edge doesn’t work well, especially if the limits are pushed and pushed and the edge is ignored over and over. If the coffee cup gets too close to the edge, it will not only spill but in the fall the ceramic shatters…perhaps into pieces that can’t be put back together.
In crafting on the edge in art, if we push the edge too far,
we lose the audience.
In life, if we (or someone else) pushes to the edge too far,
we lose much more.
(All the more reason to cherish and live life with care.)