The experience and the philosophy:
Visualwriter.com has multiple missions that converge on what fiction and nonfiction writers write about: the human condition. This site helps people at all stages of writing ability with writing through basic instruction, by challenging them with information, and by critiquing or reviewing the entertaining and the not so entertaining. It's central mission asks the question, "What kind of a world are we creating for ourselves?" It speaks to very influential people (writers and teachers worldwide: several thousand a month, 40% Hollywood, doubling yearly) about the consequences of what kind of world we inhabitants are creating and the choices in direction that we have, so that writers can illustrate these for others. Wrestling with life and understanding those struggles is important in creating good stories. So this site is also a healing and peacemaking site offering thought provoking articles which hopefully can help people through those frequent stages in their life when their growth and changing perspective puts them temporarily in limbo or in conflict either spiritually or psychologically. This is done not by providing answers, but through material people can react to to work out their individual answer. Since I am unwilling to leave people stranded, I try to responsibly provide a reasonable path forward.
I learn a lot about writing by continuously plowing new ground. The lessons are hard ones. The continual striving for a goal ultimately puts the task and the prize in perspective. In striving, I am the winner; in sharing we are all winners. There are so many writers who have excellent stories to tell, but they won't be told until they learn the story-telling skills that are commercially sought. Whether or not I am myself an excellent writer (I'm not - there are much better writers than I), I try to make a contribution so my efforts aren't wasted. In communicating this to others, I am once again the winner - I learn even more.
Writers aren't necessarily communicators. Literature and creative writing courses don't automatically make story-tellers. Story-tellers have more than knowledge; they have the ability pass feelings and ideas to others. But we no longer are a world where people tell stories aurally and gauge their effectiveness by other's response, and then go and try again. Indeed, writers tend to be a solitary breed, often afraid to even hear critical feedback.
What I offer here is the fruit of my labor - the experience that came at a heavy price. I was never able to find books or courses on topics like visual writing. Books on characterization mostly seem to be shallow reflections of characters that came alive in literature - but no one really knows how. If anyone knows much about the use of motifs, not one is sharing. Few universities offer a degree in entertainment writing - story-telling. Literature - the story having been told and the character used - yes. Story-telling, no. You can mimic it, but to learn it, you have to do it. And from what I read or hear from professional writers, I can only conclude there is more misinformation than there is real knowledge of the craft. I can say that I rarely hear a real industry expert say anything much different about basic writing than what I have placed within this site.
Why I write and why I share information goes to the heart of my philosophy of what story-telling is about.1 Story-telling facilitates many roles in our society. Story-telling gives us a sense of history, of our place, of context, by telling us about our ancestors and our peers - about the human condition as others perceive it. Story-telling also puts us in touch with our fears and aspirations as we relate to elements in the story. We get a good sense of our place, our problems, what works and doesn't, where we've been, and where were going.
But that isn't all. I hypothesize that story-telling is ultimately a tool of personality integration as we react to aspects of ourselves in the story. That deserves a bit of explanation. We may abhor what we see in stories and reject it, strengthening our own character. Or we may identify strongly with a destructive element in a story and seek a path that brings us that kind of experience. We may also gain a bit of understanding about some aspect of ourselves we have rejected, and ultimately become able to accept that part of ourselves. And finally we may see behavior or values that we must evaluate and either accept or reject. Evaluating values either makes us more entrenched in our current role in society, or makes us seek a new role, thereby facilitating personal growth. Stories are a way that we communicate to each other what is acceptable, what isn't, and how to interpret our experience. Stories can literally open an entire new world to people.
In other words, stories help form our perception of reality - especially the meaning of events in our lives. Stories also can be educational - discovery. Yet we perceive stories mostly as fun, and I write them to be entertainment. What is entertainment? If you reduce entertainment to the component parts of our personalities that it brushes, you lose the perspective of being entertained. We can reduce it and catch glimpses of it, but it is a concept that is more than the sum of its parts.
My experience with having people tell me about the events and people in their lives that most influenced them has been powerful anecdotal evidence to me that my hypothesis is correct. The act of story-telling (in this case, the teller's perspective of true stories) does help the teller add perspective to his life. It is a tool of personality integration. Story-telling, whether anecdotal stories (aural) by individuals, or written in novels, nonfiction, newspapers, magazines, movies, TV - whatever medium - whether action-adventure, tragedy, comedy, whether good or bad, is a powerful tool in our society.
While I often say in articles on this site that movies and stories do not cause behavior, especially regarding behaviors like violence, I believe stories reflect what is in the hearts and minds of people. Because people find movies that appeal to them and then project their thoughts and feelings into the story, the story is a vehicle for personality integration and opening new paths. Stories reflect what already is in hearts and minds, and allow people to see and dwell on what might be, but they cause nothing. This is confirmed by statistical studies. I think the contribution a writer can make, besides the value of entertainment, is simply to open the door to the possibility of something new.
Story-telling is often misused as a tool of social engineering and of greed. The most repugnant stories to me are those written by writers who make up anything just to make a buck or to manipulate others. Between age twenty and thirty I read nothing except science fiction because writers would not get their facts straight. I want fantasy labeled "fantasy" and social engineering labeled, "This is my interpretation of the world and how I think you should live." I'll make up my own mind if there is any truth for me in the writer's premise. I take writing stories seriously even if I write the story just for "entertainment."
Contributing is important to me. This web site is an integral part of what I do - my mode of operation. I like contributing. The information on this site is free, and uninfluenced by commercial interests. Although my book is available for convenience, the information in it is not "withheld." It is freely presented on this site as the opportunities arise.
Why do I make this information available for free? I find the idea of hiding information to be a social disgrace and a selfish act with no redeeming merit. All of my life I have found that people with specialized knowledge make sure that no one can get it without coming directly to them, which is inconsistent with the habits of most successful people. The world has long had a tradition of making information available to others through books and library systems. Information benefits everyone, and hoarding it ignores the fact that people can't apply the information without sufficient skill and experience. Hiding information robs people of the possibility of broadening their knowledge and of gaining experience, robs the world of progress, and limits the success of the person who hides the information.
A successful writing career takes a great deal of knowledge, talent, skill, and experience. People might get basic knowledge and a level of proficient knowledge from this Web site. They are unlikely to obtain talent, skill, and experience here. It is the ability to apply information that has commercial value in our world. There are other excellent ways of getting knowledge, such as university programs, correspondence schools, guest speakers for groups, industry internships, and script consultants. Many of these have the important advantages of a standardized methodology, experiential learning, community, teacher's skill, discussion, encouragement, assessment, and providing feedback - most of which are much less available through this Web site, and I encourage those who want to be writers (or other communicators) to avail themselves of these opportunities if they can. But all of my life I have encountered people who dream of doing things but can't, simply because they don't have the resources available to them because of money, distance, time, they aren't receptive to regimented learning, or other reasons. This site exists for anyone in any part of the world who is willing to invest their effort in becoming a better writer. The primary focus of the site is to challenge people to find more information.
The mission: To create, explore, and illustrate valid and unique writing methods that advance the art of story-telling, and to offer resources to writers that are unique, insightful into the process of writing, and help with building writing skills, in such a way that it matches my philosophy of what story-telling is about, and to challenge people to greater understanding of the human condition and of writing skills, but through challenging to do no harm, and to do these things in such a way that information is not restricted so that financial gain is incidental, not the motive.
The overriding concern of this site is what kind of world we are creating through the narratives that influence the meaning frameworks of our lives. Stories tell and reinforce narratives, and sometimes even originate narratives. Narratives stimulate diversity and empowerment, or diminish human potential. No specific philosophy or religion is promoted on this site, but they are discussed, and philosophy, religion, and spirituality are encouraged.
The mission continues to unfold in challenging ways that continue to define "what is visual." The word "visual," as I use it on this site, means "the totality of the visual medium in creating an effect," including all things that accompany a visual image - a reflection of life. This applies to books as well because the author's descriptions create mental images. The Visual Writer site will include an emphasis on a semiotic approach to evaluating and understanding stories. Semiotics is the study of signs (symbols*). This emphasis is because the vehicle of communication is symbols, both verbal and visual, which each person (both sender and receiver) interprets uniquely. These symbols attempt to convey experience, which is difficult at best, however they immediately touch related experiences within the audience. These symbols participate in our experience in significant ways. What then is effective, and what are the implications?
* I use the word "symbol" to mean a sign (pointer) that actually participates in experience.
What I uniquely offer to others is:
1 Bruner, Jerome. Acts Of Meaning, Harvard University Press, Cambridge, 1990. (Note: A new transforming view of psychologies that refocuses on cultural (folk) psychology as providing society with its meaning framework, with much emphasis on narrative (story) as the vehicle for meaning. Art mimics life. Life mimics art.)
Brief bio: Scott Cole - writer
Experienced (3 to 20+ years each) in electrical engineering, psychology (some counseling, not therapy), religious studies, pastor, narrative construction and criticism, business management (medical equipment, district), radio, TV video production (brief), and writing (web publishing, public relations, marketing, screen, stage, novel, how to, religious, technical).
Interests and active pursuits: attitude change, motivation, social and narrative psychology, words and their influence, philosophy, and semiotics (symbols and motifs), student of psychoanalysis and psychotherapy.
Neither liberal nor conservative - moderate - and hates labels. A bridge builder and a peace maker.
Web writer and publisher of the Internet site, The Visual Writer, LLC, which is a resource site for story writers, including screen, stage, and print.
Other distribution restrictions: None
Page URL: http://www.visualwriter.com/Mission.htm