12 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 588, Quotations and Literature Complexity Q and A
Announcement: Ancient Light is delayed due to the economy. You can read more about it at http://www.ancientlight.com. Ancient Light includes the second edition of Aegypt plus Sister of Light and Sister of Darkness. I’ll keep you updated.
Introduction: I wrote the novel Aksinya: Enchantment and the Daemon. This was my 21st novel and through this blog, I gave you the entire novel in installments that included commentary on the writing. In the commentary, in addition to other general information on writing, I explained, how the novel was constructed, the metaphors and symbols in it, the writing techniques and tricks I used, and the way I built the scenes. You can look back through this blog and read the entire novel beginning with http://www.pilotlion.blogspot.com/2010/10/new-novel-part-3-girl-and-demon.html.
I’m using this novel as an example of how I produce, market, and eventually (we hope) get a novel published. I’ll keep you informed along the way.
The four plus one basic rules I employ when writing:
1. Don’t confuse your readers.
2. Entertain your readers.
3. Ground your readers in the writing.
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
5. Immerse yourself in the world of your writing.
All novels have five discrete parts:
1. The initial scene (the beginning)
2. The rising action
3. The climax
4. The falling action
5. The dénouement
The theme statement of my 26th novel, working title, Shape, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Escape from Freedom. Escape is my 25th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’m on my first editing run-through of Shape.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
- Scene input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:
- Historical extrapolation
- Technological extrapolation
- Intellectual extrapolation
Creativity is like an extrapolation of what has been. It is a reflection of something new created with ties to the history, science, and logic (the intellect). Creativity requires consuming, thinking, and producing.
One of my blog readers posed these questions. I’ll use the next few weeks to answer them.
- Conflict/tension between characters
- Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
- Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
- Evolving vs static character
- Language and style
- Verbal, gesture, action
- Words employed
- Sentence length
- Type of grammar
- Field of reference or allusion
- Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
- Mannerism suggested by speech
- Distinct manner of writing or speaking you employ, and why (like Pinter’s style includes gaps, silences, non-sequitors, and fragments while Chekhov’s includes ‘apparent’ inconclusiveness).
Moving on to 9. 9. Complexity
Short digression: I’m in the Czech Republic on a short world tour. Flew into a couple of bases here–the Czechs are delightful people.
Complexity is related to the value of the unstated or the intentionally understated. Complexity comes out of tension and release.
What is complexity?
The first level of complexity is the theme. I discussed theme complexity earlier.
The second level of complexity is the plot. What makes a complex plot? In addition to the interweaving of the storylines, the tension and release cycle of the plot itself is directly related to the climax. This leads to the third level of complexity.
The third level of complexity is the integration of the tension and release into the climax and the revelation of the characters. That leads to the individual scenes.
The fourth level of complexity is the integration of language into the tension and release of the scenes. Figures of speech are to writing what grammar is to language.
The fifth level of complexity is the integration of literature and culture into the tension and release of the scenes.
Direct mention and quotes are also useful and powerful for building complexity. The first rule is this—always attribute. Do not quote material or not give proper due to a direct mention in your works. You don’t need to make a textual attribution like you might for a technical paper. All you need to do is write: as Billy Bob said…, then quote the material. If a more detailed or direct attribution is necessary write like this: as Charles Dickins wrote in A Tale of Two Cities… then make the quote. Remember, don’t copy material and use it in your writing without proper attribution.
I would even be careful of rewriting certain material. Whatever its source, you should be very cautious of including any writing that is not your own. As I wrote—attribute properly.
Now, you might ask, why quote material at all? Quotes and direct mentions (name dropping) in your text can be very powerful and complex—plus it adds entertainment. For example, I used a quote from a French philosopher that happened to exactly fit a scene. One character recognized the intelligence, cultural, and linguistic skill of the protagonist because of the use of a quote. I’ve used quotes before in a similar vein.
I use direct mentions with descriptions all the time in my writing. For example, in the latest, Essie, I directly mention many titles of organ and popular music. In addition, I describe some of the music in my own words.
In many of my other novels, I have characters attending plays, ballets, opera, and musicals. I directly mention the names and authors of these entertainments, and I many times describe parts of them.
Writing does not happen in a vacuum. Writing has the power to incorporate all the greatest arts of humanity and tie them together. In this way, an opera can become a vehicle to propel your plot or theme. In my novel, Aksinya, numerous operas and ballets become the means of the mental and physical seduction of Aksinya. They play out the theme of the novel as the novel runs. In my novel, Shadow of Light, an opera reveals the way forward to the protagonist’s helper and this moves the plot. All of these quotes and direct mentions, add complexity and entertainment to the writing.