How Aristotle’s Poetics Changed My Writing

Michael Tierno’s analysis of Aristotle’s Poetics is easy to comprehend and does not only lend itself to its intended audience, but the information presented can lend itself to any form of writing, poetry or prose. There is such a vast amount of information in this book, that it is impossible to break it all down, report on it, and then use it for my own for this annotation. Therefore, I have decided to take certain sections of the book and explain how they pertain to my own work.

In chapter three, Tierno writes, “a dramatic story must have unity if it’s going to move an audience and bring it to catharsis” (19). This idea was not something that was on the forefront of my mind. Yes, I wanted Abby to save the day, but how is that one action being cathartic? It’s not. While spending the majority or my reading years searching for books that would cause me to cry, laugh, become scared, I have been deeply disappointed. There are not many books that are able to cause emotions to come forth when I read. But, I continue to search, and I don’t think I am alone. Because that is the one thing that drives me to choose one book over another, it has also become a goal of mine; make someone cry!

While workshopping in January, the common consensus was that readers did not know Abby before she was thrust into a weird world. I did not realize that it was important for my readers to know Abby before the adventure started. I thought that would be boring. So I had to find a way they could get to know her and feel for her. So I decided her mother disappeared, and her father committed suicide. But, I am thinking how can I bring these events to some great catharsis in the end? So far, I have come up with the idea that Abby will save the people she is destined to save. In the process, she will find her mother in the past (her mother was also sent back in time to save the people and failed), and Abby will find out that her father has a great amount of guilt over her mother’s disappearance, therefore felt the need to detach himself from Abby because he knew that one day she would have to go away too. In the end, Abby has to choose saving the people over saving her mother, which causes her turmoil and pain because she loses her all over again. I am hoping the scene will be written well enough that my readers will cry a lot!

To regress, part of my problem with not introducing Abby before the action started was the reader did not care about Abby. I am hoping they do now because according to Tierno, “we have to like him in order to care about what happens to him” (22). I am hoping that people like Abby, and they do not merely pity her, because pity is sometimes are turn off, and readers may not care about someone they only pity. So I have to ask myself how to balance pity and likability. I think they have to also respect her and what she is trying to do. So how do I do that? Maybe through some sort of sacrifice?

In chapter six Tierno states, “the ACTION-IDEA, or plot, must always be in your mind’s eye when you are writing scenes” (33). This has caused me to think about scenes that already have outlines. The idea is that Abby has to meet different people along the way that will help her be successful in the end. She has to complete the journey on her own, but the people and their words are important and help guide her on her way. For example, Abby eventually meets a priest.  I never knew what the importance of the priest was until I recently started looking for monsters for Abby to defeat. The monsters that struck me most were the ones that come from the Bible. I am now beginning to understand the importance of that scene and that Abby needs to meet the priest now more than ever. There are many other planned out scenes that are important and integral to the ACTION-IDEA. I question if my readers will see them in the same way. Hopefully.

In chapter eighteen, Tierno states, “The “thought” that leads to the key actions reveals the “character” of the hero in the story and must be of a nature that arouses the audience’s pity and fear” (94).  Is it a strong enough thought that Abby realizes she wants to save the people because she could never save her own parents and the guilt she feels can potentially be absolved by the idea and truth that she is their savoir? Is it plausible that she realizes that if her mother had not disappeared her father would not have been the one to raise her, therefore Abby would not be tough enough to face her demons? These are questions I have to prove true through telling Abby’s story by way of developing her ACTION-IDEA.

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