Pages

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Relief

I'm no Art History buff by any means, but I do remember one thing from my 10th grade teacher, Tony Taylor. Relief Sculpture.

'Relief' comes from the latin word for 'raise' (you can all thank Wikipedia for this), but in actuality, artists don't add to or raise the subject, but rather carve out the background.

At 15 years old, this fascinated me. Sometimes little or no chiseling was done on the actual subject and yet, somehow, a face, a figure or a scene emerged. As the background is dug out of the granite or sandstone or whatever, the characters stand out. They come to life.

I've been working on my synopsis and sent it to a friend who knew nothing of my book, it's premise, characters, etc. I just wanted to see if my synopsis made any sense to her at all. It didn't. She was lost. There was nothing to ground her and nothing that held my string of facts together.

I asked her for suggestions. All she said was "background". She wanted me to carve out the setting. She wanted me to anchor my characters to a place or history. She didn't need much, just something to help her visualize an environment where my characters could come off the page and 'rise up'.

She had a great point. I added only two or three phrases indicating place, time, and circumstance, but that provided enough of a backdrop to support my characters and the series of events in my story.

Often sculptors use 'relief' sculpting because it provides strength and stability - especially at weak points in their sculpture, like the ankles, wrists, or neck. I think carving out a solid background, whether spacial or circumstantial, for our characters will strengthen those weak spots that we may find throughout our manuscripts.

So rather than trying to chisel out the details of our MC's, perhaps sculpting a deeper background might inspire them to rise to the surface all on their own. ???? Good luck fellow artists!

--Sara Bulla

11 comments:

Freya Morris said...

Great insight Sara. I think I might have missed this in my query too.

Miranda Hardy said...

Great analogy. I love history and I'm using a lot of it in my next book. It's tedious, but enjoyable.

Angela Cothran said...

Oooo, I loved this Sara! What a great analogy :)

Abby said...

This is awesome Angie. I have noticed in a lot of books I've read lately that they leave so much out of the background. It's all about characters. And while the characters are SO IMPORTANT and need to be done well, we can't forget the background! This is great.

Jolene Perry said...

Fab analogy.

Art history is one of those things I wish I knew more about, because I love art. LOVE.
A Monet exhibit came through vegas when we lived there, and hubs and I spent HOURS - all day - just starting at brush strokes and paintings we'd seen in books our whole lives. Still gives me chills.
I saw an traveling exhibit of Van Goght's art, and that, too, was absolutely amazing.
And now I"m rambling in a comment ;D

Small Town Shelly Brown said...

That was deep Sara. Maybe too deep for me ;) JK

Abby said...

Oh my goodness. Great post SARA! Thanks for the heads up and the comment on my blog! So glad to know you better. haha. Now I won't always assume it's Angie!

Angela Brown said...

Such a wonderful analogy! That really puts it into better perspective...though those things are still a bogger to write up.

Kim said...

Great post! A lot to think about - how a background defines or exposes our characters...

Elizabeth said...

Background is something I usually can't get enough of. This post made me think of my favorite books from a different angle, and sure enough, they flesh out a great background in the first few chapters! Food for thought, thanks!

Deana said...

Very good way to put it Sara. The synopsis scares the crap out of me I must say. This helps my fears some:)

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...