21 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 839, The Stage of the Novel, Descriptions and the Stage
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, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si. Essie is my 26th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.
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)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I’ll use my newest novel as an example. It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above. Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play. A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point.
In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:
Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
When we write: show and don’t tell, you can take this to many degrees. Some authors might only show that which is sensed and said. Most authors provide some degree of description beyond the senses and what is said. For example, I might write:
Woodville was a village set deep in the center of the Texas Big Thicket.
Or you might write:
Sadie stared out the window of the truck. The sign said Woodville in the Big Thicket. She turned to Jack and asked, “What’s the Big Thicket?”
I’ve used both methods. One moves the name into description. The other places the description in conversation and observation. I like to place description into conversation—the reason is that conversation is not necessarily truth. I like secrets. I like unresolved issues that can turn into creative elements.
There is still scope for an author to use description in the scene setting to provide more information—the type of information that is evident about a place. On the other hand, information that is not self-evident or that should be revealed in the plot should not be placed in a description. For example, don’t write like this:
Woodville was a haunted village set in the Texas Big Thicket. It may be haunted, but that’s something to be revealed. You might approach such a declaration like this:
Jack grinned at Sadie, “Woodville is haunted.”
She rolled her eyes.
This type of plot revelation is description set in conversation. On the other hand:
Sadie and Jack passed an old cemetery as they passed the sign announcing Woodville. Spanish moss hung down from the branches of the cypress trees like witches’ hair. It shrouded the tombstones in mossy shadows.
Now, this is description that is showing and providing a strong impression and tone to the writing and the setting.
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