Axiom

An axiom is a maxim or aphorism whose truth is held to be self-evident. In logic an axiom is a premise accepted as true without the need of demonstration and is used in building an argument. (Handbook to Literature)

Origin

late 15th cent.: from French axiome or Latin axioma, from Greek axiōma what is thought fitting, from axios worthy.’ (New Oxford American)

Axiom Writing Exercise

Choose a scene, you’ve already written, an important scene that you would like to explore more deeply. In this scene, choose one of the characters and explore this character’s unquestioned truth, an axiom held by a character. This axiom might be stated or unstated. Dig into this axiom. Why does this character hold this unquestioned truth? What happened in this character’s past, childhood, development… to create this unwaveringly held truth? When you’ve developed this axiom history out of the scene, explore how another character might mirror or reject this axiom. If there isn’t another character in the scene, how might the setting or an object within the setting mirror or reject this axiom? Remember, the axiom might have already been planted in the narrative and unstated within this scene. If the reader is already aware of the character’s axiom from the earlier narrative, then subtle mirroring within the scene will trigger this knowledge and create a “secret” narrative bond between the scene and the reader.

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Sources

A Handbook to Literature. William Harmon.

“Cogito et Histoire de la Folie.” Jacques Derrida.

Eats Shoots and Leaves: The Zero Tolerance Approach to Punctuation. Lynne Truss.

The Elements of Style. William Strunk. 

New Oxford American DictionaryEdited by Angus Stevenson and Christine A. Lindberg.

The Norton Anthology of World LiteratureMartin Puchner, et al.

The Norton Introduction to PhilosophyGideon Rosen and Alex Byrne.

Woe is I: The Grammarphobe’s Guide to Better English in Plain English. Patricia T. O’Conner

Writing Fiction: A Guide to Narrative Craft. Janet Burroway, Elizabeth Stuckey-French & Ned Stuckey-French.

Writing the Other. Nisi Shawl and Cynthia Ward.

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