Sunday, April 15, 2012

Featured Author in the Madhouse: Cynthia Ravinski


Visuals, Imagery, and Crafting Story from Dream
By Cynthia Ravinski

I'm part of the EmotoBook Revolution.  Let me tell you how that happened (I'm a story teller, that's what I do.) Writing an EmotoBook changed the way I look at writing. So let's start here.

For me, a story starts with a dream- vivid color and poignant action streaking across the movie screen of my resting mind with abstract gravitas. I think the strangest thing is that there are never any words.

If I decide an Idea is worth turning into a story, it's usually because it has haunted me for days and I'm thoroughly mad like the Hatter about the thing. And then, I only face the task of crafting it into something intelligible to other humans. Let me step aside here to say that without an Idea no writing can be done, there is only that familiar blank white screen with a blinking black cursor. With an Idea, I at least have something to hang some words on, from which I will shape my story.

Crafting a story is a very technical thing, and is separate from the story Idea. Simply relating events is not truly telling a story, it misses a lot of resonance. A writer's job is to craft a story so that black and white text creates an internal cinematic dreamscape for a reader.  There are many tools a writers uses to do this.  One of the most important, I think, is visual imagery.  When readers look at text, all they see are black lines on white.  I've always been completely seduced by a brief chain of words that can slip a ravishing scene into my head.

The idea of EmotoBooks as a literary form lodged in my mind and haunted me for days after I'd first heard of it. Using abstract imagery to enhance the reading experience tackles multiple areas of the brain, and appeals to my vivid dreamscapes that have no words.  Louis Sullivan, an American architect, put it perfectly, "form ever follows function."  EmotoBooks have a unique style and structure.  They are all fast-paced, imagery-heavy short stories or serial novels containing abstract, emotionally provocative illustrations to depict what characters feel during peak moments of tension.  These expressionistic elements provide both a cerebral and visual stimulation, which enhances the experience.

When I began the editing process for my EmotoSingle, Lingering in the Woods, it was glaringly obvious that my instinctive use of imagery was not as effective as I would have hoped.  I've always tried to keep my stories visually balanced, like in my dreams, but it became apparent that in doing so, I reduced the impact of important scenes.  Encouraged by my editor at Grit City, I intensified the imagery in the most powerful parts of the story as a seat for the abstract artwork going into the story.  Through this craft element, I added a texture to the story I wouldn't have found before, visually highlighting the peaks and valleys of the plot.

Writing stories is a grand puzzle with no absolute solution. Trial and error is the best way through that maze.  I only hope that my work's images burn lively in the minds of readers.

BIO: Cynthia Ravinski writes, among other things.  From her coastal northern setting, she crafts stories in impossible worlds and dreams up crafty characters to occupy them.  She's been an athlete, a co-pilot, and a world traveler.  She's basked in the light of great poets, and has been educated to high degrees at UMaine Farmington and Seton Hill University.  To say she is obsessed with drinking tea is an understatement.  Visit her here to learn more.