Writing, Accounting, and SynergyBy Karen Cioffi
In accounting – if you (the accountant or bookkeeper) are off even one penny, you have to search and work until that penny is found – all the income, expenses, assets, liabilities of a business must all sync at the end of every month, quarter, and year. Your balance sheet, which reflects every penny in and out, must be perfect. All this, along with reconciling the monthly bank statements.
The various data from different departments, such as research and development, accounts payable, accounts receivable, and payroll, must all be included.
Writing, in some aspects is similar to accounting; each element of a story - theme, setting, plot, conflict, characters - must all work together to create an error free balance sheet at the end. In other words, they must meld together to create a coherent, engaging, and interesting article or book. The end piece must have proper grammar, and the correct formatting. And, if something is amiss, the author needs to find the troublesome spot/s and correct it.
In both arenas, details are important, as is balance.
Suppose in accounting your accounts payable far exceeded your accounts receivable, or your liabilities far exceeded your assets. This would make for a dire situation, and one that would need correction.
Well, in writing, suppose you have wonderful characters, but they have no where to go; your story lacks an engaging plot and conflict. Or, maybe you have a great storyline, but your characters are flat, they have no dimension; these situations are also cause for alarm and need to be addressed.
In writing, it’s the combination of all the elements of writing that moves a story forward and creates a page-turning adventure. You may have a character driven story, or a plot driven story, but in both, you need all elements of the story to weave together, to create synergy.
Synergy is a great word. It means the combination, joined forces, or combined effects of individual elements which will create an end result that is greater than the sum of their individual effects or capabilities.
I actually like Wikipedia’s definition: “Synergy, in general, may be defined as two or more agents working together to produce a result not obtainable by any of the agents independently.”
This is what the elements of writing, joined together in just the right way, produces. Theme, setting, plot, conflict, and characters combine forces to go beyond their individual capabilities. The writing synergy process creates an end result that is not attainable by any of the elements independently.
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