11 October 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 464, Character Tension Conflict Q and A Developing the Rising Action
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 Lilly: Enchantment and the Computer. Lilly is my 24th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’ve started writing Shape.
I’m an advocate of using the/a scene input/output method to drive the rising action–in fact, to write any novel.
1. Scene input (easy)
2. Scene output (a little harder)
3. Scene setting (basic stuff)
4. Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
5. Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
6. Release (climax of creative elements)
I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:
1. History extrapolation
2. Technological extrapolation
3. 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.
1. Conflict/tension between characters
2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
3. Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
4. Evolving vs static character
5. Language and style
6. Verbal, gesture, action
7. Words employed
8. Sentence length
10. Type of grammar
12. Field of reference or allusion
14. Mannerism suggest by speech
16. 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 back to 1. 1. Conflict/tension between characters
When the tension ends, the novel ends. Constant tension and release in scenes and constant tension development to the climax means the end of conflict is the end of the novel. Wise novelists also leave other conflicts untouched or understated conflicts unfinished–this allows future novels. But a poor novelist should be able to produce a new novel using the same characters with the addition of a new conflict. The ultimate conflict in a novel comes directly out of the theme statement.
The theme statement from Shape: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her. The ultimate conflict between Mrs. Lyons and her shape-shifting charge is the rehabilitating part. This implies a lot–it means there is something wrong with the girl (there is). It implies Mrs. Lyons is equipped to deal with her (she is). Within this small statement is enormous unstated conflict. Let’s look at some of it.
Where does Mrs. Lyons live–the theme statement doesn’t say, but this is where both character development and scene setting come in. Mrs. Lyons is a character from my other novels. In this novel, she is very old. She lived a long and fulfilling life. She is the daughter of aristocracy, went to Oxford, supported WWII intel, married an intel officer, always wanted children, but never bore any of her own, and was involved on the outskirts of the supernatural. She retired to her late husband’s village where she is treated as an important person. She lives alone in a cottage on the outskirts of the village of Lyonshall.
The girl is obviously a supernatural creature. She has been held a prisoner all her life because she is considered dangerous. She escaped.
Already, you can imagine the unstated conflicts. These are the creative elements to build tension and release in the novel. The first is that the girl escaped. She has already put her conflict with her captors into direct conflict with her and her freedom. The second is that she raided other pantries before Mrs. Lyons. The girl has been stealing food from all over the village and shire. The constable, others in the shire, her captors, and ultimately, those who put the girl under lock and key in the first place are immediately in conflict with her–and now with Mrs. Lyons.