The Tapestry of Writing

I was talking to a friend the other day and he likened writing a story to weaving. This is a quote from Wikipedia about weaving a tapestry:

Tapestry is a form of textile art, woven on a vertical loom. It is composed of two sets of interlaced threads, those running parallel to the length (called the warp) and those parallel to the width (called the weft); the warp threads are set up under tension on a loom, and the weft thread is passed back and forth across part or all of the warps. Tapestry is weft-faced weaving, in which all the warpthreads are hidden in the completed work, unlike cloth weaving where both the warp and the weft threads may be visible. In tapestry weaving, weft yarns are typically discontinuous; the artisan interlaces each colored weft back and forth in its own small pattern area. It is a plain weft-faced weave having weft threads of different colours worked over portions of the warp to form the design.” 

When writing a story or novel first we set up a framework or story plan, the warp of the story, with an outline of where the story is going to, research to base the novel on and a description of our main characters. In my friend’s analogy this is the warp; those threads which will be almost hidden when the story is completed.

After this careful preparation it is time to add the colourful storyline and allow our imagination to take over. Our story weaves through our plan and the bare bones of our characters and research, bringing them to life. Each section is painstakingly crafted, including detailed accounts of each scene, which is the weft of the story. 

Mind you, I would like to add another step to this analogy because the weaver always works from the back, tying up any loose threads and beginning new colours so that the joins are invisible. The weaver always makes sure that there is just the correct amount of tension. Too little and the tapestry will be disjointed and may show holes but too much and the final picture will be buckled and spoilt. 

When the weaver has completed the final thread of his work, he or she makes sure that all loose ends are secure and as neatly trimmed as possible.

 It is only at that point when the author believes that he or she has reached perfection that the work is turned over to reveal the whole picture for the very first time. 

Interestingly my mind leapt at this point to the idiom:

To spin a yarn

Tell a story, especially a long drawn-out or totally fanciful one, as in This author really knows how to spin a yarn , or Whenever he’s late he spins some yarn about a crisis. Originally a nautical term dating from about 1800, this expression probably owes its life to the fact that it embodies a double meaning, yarn  signifying both “spun fiber” and “a tale.”

Quote from:

So there you have it. From the initial planning stages through to writing the novel, proof reading, editing and finally revealing the published novel to an appreciative audience; I wish you good fortune in weaving your masterpiece.

Does anyone know any more interesting analogies?

©Diana Jackson 03/08/2011


Filed under Planning a novel, Writing, Writing a novel

4 responses to “The Tapestry of Writing

  1. Great piece! I love the analogy of the warp and the weft. Also, the moment when the weaver turns over the piece to reveal the pattern for the first time – very thought-provoking.

    I finished Riduna last night and really enjoyed it. I was getting a bit sad towards the end because E and H’s lives hadn’t gone the way I hoped they would and then at the last… ah! Nicely done 😀 xx

  2. hannahkarena

    I like the analogy, thanks for the post!

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