Sunday, October 07, 2012

Principles of Design - Shape and Form

garden wall 1

Awhile back, I started a series comparing P. Allen Smith's Principles of Garden Design with the design principles of creating a novel. The first principle of design we discussed was that of Enclosure. (Identifying and staying within the boundaries of your genre.) You can find that post by clicking HERE. 
The next principle of design is Shape and Form. Here's what P. Allen Smith has to say on the subject:

Shape and Form - The contour and three-dimensional qualities of individual plants or groups of plants in the garden, as well as the outline of a garden room itself.
  • Basic shapes stage the look of garden rooms.
  • Shapes have symbolic meanings.
  • Shapes convey "personality" that creates certain moods.
  • The arrangement of shapes in relation to one another defines certain styles.

When choosing plants for your garden, you consider things like size, color, flowering season, annual vs. perennial, climate, and much more to create the mood, look, and emotional experience you're looking for. 


So many comparisons can be made here to novel writing. Especially as I am plotting a new novel. When choosing characters, setting, word usage, pacing, and symbolism, you must consider your genre, your audience, your writing style, and the emotions you're hoping to evoke in your reader.

Shape and Form - The three-dimensional qualities of your characters as well as the pacing, word usage, and symbolism that give your story depth and richness.
  • Characters need to have shape and form, be three-dimensional, sympathetic, and interesting. 
  • Symbolism can add richness and depth to your story.
  • Word usage will convey the mood and tone of your scene/story/genre. 
  • Pacing and arrangement of scenes should move the story forward at the right clip for your genre.
So, what genre are you writing, and what mood are you hoping to create?

I'm writing an historical romance, and the mood is one of hope and happily ever after.

14 comments:

  1. I hope you're having fun working on your new story. You're a great storyteller, so I'm sure you'll get the shape, form, and mood just right.

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    1. Thank you, Keli! What are you working on now?

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  2. Hey, Erica! I just started plotting my second novel today (although it's been in my head for about six years!). It's a historical romance, based off of real people and events (with a LOT of literary license), so I'm having a blast figuring out who these people are and why they are doing what they're doing. Telling stories is so much fun. :)

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    1. I love using real events and real people in my stories. Today in my plotting General Philip Sheridan and Cheyenne chief Black Kettle showed up. :D

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  3. What an interesting idea! Sounds like lots of details too...

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    1. The hardest part for me is making the initial decisions. After that, the details and layers seem to come more easily.

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  4. I like this series on comparisons. I'm writing contemporary romance and I want something fun, relatable, and like yours, something that has a happily ever after.

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    1. HEAs are a must in my world. At least what I write. I read some things that don't end in a HEA, but even those are not my go-to reads.

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  5. I write romance and the mood is...well...romantic? LOL!

    Good structure and design seems to be important in any endeavor. I didn't realize shapes have symbolic meaning!

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    1. Orange Rhombuses have symbolic meaning in my life! :D

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  6. Amen!!! Great blog post, Erica! Good advice!

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  7. Good information! I'm writing women's fiction and want the mood to be one of hope.

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    1. Hopeful fiction is what sets Christian Fiction apart, isn't it?

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