On Writing — Thinking Inside the Box

Let me recommend this article from Russ Dvonch in his ‘Heroic Hollywood’ series THINKING INSIDE THE BOX. It proposes no novel theory of writing, merely that craft needs structure. But what makes the article readable and interesting (to me, at least) was the observation of how deeply and completely thematic elements pervade the writing.

In his case, he is talking of screenwriting, but the general point is valid for loftier types of writing, such as world-wrecking space operas about space princesses, which all here know is the paramount and culmination of Western Art since Homer. The example he uses is the James Bond flick GOLDFINGER, and he notes how one thematic element is repeated in the advertising, plot, dialogue, imagery, costumes, and props. He carefully notes how the three elements that make a Bond film memorable — sex appeal, violent conflict, the dashing spy — are firmly tied back into the one image of Gold.


As a writer who loves formula — no experimental nihilist absurdism for me, please, I like stories with a beginning, a middle, and an end, preferably an end where Frodo sails away from the sorrorws of Middle Earth forever to the Summer Land of Avalon in Alfheim, to be healed of his great wound, where Dante is led by Beatrice to the final vision at the highest of all heavens, the invading Martians in their hideous tripodal fighting-machines catch a cold and die, and the body of Hector the horsetamer is returned to his father King Priam for burial–I welcome any writing advice urging craftsmen to use their formulae adriotly.

The blacksmith who fashions a sword for warrior’s hand has certain limits to his craft. What use is a ‘Picasso’ type sword with no point, or a ‘James Joyce’ sword with no form? Each sword must have an edge and a grip and a hilt, and be of the temper to strike a blow or parry it, but within those confines, none can claim that certain swords are not works of art.