Episode 16: What Can We Learn about Writing from Sculpting?

As creative writers, we have a lot of tools of the trade at our disposal. Characterization, symbolism, subtext, and all the techniques we talk about on this podcast. One of the most common tools we use is figurative language—writing things that aren’t literally true but that capture the feeling or moment better than literal language would. That’s what we’re doing with today’s podcast. We’re looking at the process of writing and revising in a new way—a way that might help us gain a better insight into what we’re trying to do as writers. The metaphor we’re exploring is how writing is like sculpting.


In the show, Brad mentions a sculptor a few miles south of where he lives in a little artistic community called Seal Rock. That artist’s name is Brian McEneny and you can visit his website at http://www.woodcarvinggallery.com/. If you get the opportunity to visit the central Oregon coast, I highly encourage you to drop in and take a look at his incredible work.

Our WISE WORD on this episode came from Mardy Grothe, author of I Never Metaphor I Didn’t Like:

“A metaphor is a kind of magical changing room — where, one thing, for a moment, becomes another, and in that moment is seen in a whole new way. As soon as something old is seen in a new way, it stimulates a torrent of new thoughts and associations, almost as if a mental floodgate has been lifted.”

Our WEEKLY CHALLENGE this week was to spend some quiet time in reflection about the story you are writing right now. Think through your story, plot point by plot point. Tell it to yourself. While you’re doing that, listen for that nagging little voice trying to convince you that “you might get lucky.” It might be a plot point that isn’t sitting quite right. It might be a character trait that doesn’t feel authentic. It might be a choice that one of your characters makes that feels a little too forced or predictable. It might be an idea inspired by another story that might be more “copied from” than “inspired by.” Pay attention to this little nagging feelings and use it as a signpost of where you might need to spend some time reworking and polishing your story. Yes, it’ll take time. And yes, it’ll be frustrating and tedious at times. But your story will benefit from it. You’ll end up with a true work of art instead of a haphazard lump of wood showing its scars from the “buzzing chainsaw” of rough drafting.

Have a topic request for a future show? Know of a great author that you’d love to hear interviewed on Inside Creative Writing? Talk to us and let us know!

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