Author Topic: Constructing a Story, Writing a House  (Read 7926 times)

Joe Carillo

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Constructing a Story, Writing a House
« on: November 25, 2023, 12:50:41 PM »
Constructing a Story, Writing a House
By Antonio Calipjo Go, Forum Contributor

Writing a story is like building a house.

Your central idea, your theme, is the foundation upon which you build. Your sundry thoughts and notions are your nouns, pronouns and verbs, the blocks of bricks and pieces of stones that, piece by piece, give form, body, volume and structure to the content of your piece, the substance of your writing.

                                           IMAGE CREDIT: ISTOCKPHOTO

Your opening sentence is the door, the main entrance to your house. If what you’ve come up with is a good introductory sentence, if your porch is sunny and bright, people will be drawn to come visit, will want to take a look at what you have in store there. Your first statement should catch the attention of passersby, pique the curiosity of your readers and invite a connection with your visitors.

The component paragraphs are the rooms of your house and each should serve to create the final big picture of how your house will eventually look like and take on an identity of its own.

Everything must be in their proper place. You wouldn’t be placing your toilet or bathroom right after the entrance hall, would you? The foyer leads to the living room, then the dining area and then the kitchen. Your conjunctions are the stairs that lead ever inward and upward, the deeper you go into your narrative. The bedrooms are the inner sanctum of your house, repositories of the innermost workings of your mind, the most secret stirrings of your heart.

Your closing statement is the roof that finishes and completes the entire construction. It has to be robust and strong, able to withstand the elements while making something of a statement, so that people seeing it from afar will say: What a pretty place!

Then and only then should you embellish, after you’ve written down your most important thoughts. Then and only then may you summon your adjectives and adverbs and lay down the carpets, hang the curtains, put up the blue lights and the chandeliers, the windchimes and the mirrors.

And, if you’re still up to the job, install the garden, bring in the grass and the flowers. Send in the gargoyles, your idioms, your figures of speech.

Your house need not have seven gables. It need not be situated at some distant wuthering heights. It is what you have to say that matters, and how you express and articulate your message. Truthfulness and honesty are the foundations of a sturdy house, what makes a house a home. If you have nothing worth saying, zip it. Go build yourself a shack or a lean-to or anything the big bad wolf could easily huff and puff to smithereens in one go.

Wanting is a verb, an action word. If you have this hunger to share what you are thinking or feeling, record it before it goes away. Capture it, in permanent black and white, and freeze that memory, fossilize that dream, house that moment.

This advice was the response of Mr. Antonio Calipjo Go to a student of his who had sent him this query: “How Can I Write a Good Story?” A retired academic supervisor of the Marian School of Quezon City, Mr. Go is an advocate of good English usage who has been waging a crusade against badly written English-language textbooks in the Philippines for many years now. Several of his no-nonsense critiques and personal essays have appeared in the Forum over the years.

« Last Edit: November 25, 2023, 07:31:08 PM by Joe Carillo »