For my entries in the 2012 A to Z Challenge, I will be focusing on writing elements that I find important and that I want to incorporate into my work.
Today, the topic is JUXTAPOSITION.
Juxtaposition is often associated with the visual arts. But as I mentioned in yesterday's "Imagery" post, the best writing IS visual -- it's just that the images are being formed inside the reader's head.
Juxtaposition is used to create contrast and comparison; to give visual impact to images because of their associations. Consider the two images I used in my word definition picture above. By themselves, a tricycle or a tank would each hold certain individual meaning, but when placed next to each other, the visual and emotional impact is raised. They are both broadly defined as 'vehicles', but it's the radical difference and the conflicting emotional subtext that pulls at the viewer: Tricycles imply small children, innocence, and vulnerability. Tanks are tools of war, death, and destruction. The emotional impact from conflict between the two becomes much larger than just the individual images taken by themselves.
This type of juxtaposition works well in writing, too. Consider how many 'fish out of water' stories there have been -- these are successful because of the juxtaposition of the main character's emotions, values, and history against that of the environment they are thrust into. Similarly, there are a gazillion "romance of opposites" stories where events force two drastically personality types together, and the juxtaposition of their characters creates the interest.
Juxtaposition invites conflict and tension -- the core of all drama and the vital element that hold a reader's interest. Seeing how characters react to events, people, and environments radically different from what they are familiar with is a plot element that can have universal appeal.
But Juxtaposition doesn't have to be of characters or even of large plot elements. It can also be used in smaller doses in scenes, settings, or even within a single character. But the secret it not to just throw weird elements together for the hell of it -- the goal is to use components that reveal story, highlight character, or add dramatic depth, and that can play off of each other, much like that tricycle and tank.
It's not always easy to do smoothly, but when it's done well, juxtaposition can create a strong emotional connection in your reader.
And that's the whole point of writing.
Thanks for visiting -- see you the rest of this month for more alphabetical fun!
Don't forget to visit HERE to see all the bloggers taking part in this A-to-Z challenge, and try to drop in on as many of them as you can!