16 October 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 469, Developing Character Presentation 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 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 on to 2. 2. Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
Now we are moving into creativity–the development of a character. First, you need to know this. Characters are developed by the author before the writing is begun (or at least at some point before they are written about). Once a character is developed (by the author), then the character is revealed in the plot.
Character development starts before the novel begins–in every way. Now, I will give to you that some authors do improve their characters as they write about them, but this is simply part of the power of writing and revelation. In other words, the author develops the character, but as the author writes, the character takes on more reality. The author then must go back and fix the early writing about the characters to catch up. In no case should character development occur during the novel. This statement comes with a caveat, in some novels the protagonist does change slightly (this has been mistakenly called character development by some). In general, the protagonist must change in a classical novel. I’m not sure I want to get into this part right away, but let’s go.
In a classical novel (which I advocate all writers attempt to write), the protagonist must begin with a telic flaw. That telic flaw is what causes the theme, plot, and climax and during the climax, the protagonist either overcomes the flaw (comedy) or is overcome by the flaw (tragedy). The telic flaw is an innate characteristic of the protagonist. Thus, in Shape, the telic flaw of Essie is that she can change to a wildcat. The telic flaw of Mrs. Lyons is that she believes she can rehabilitate Essie. Here comes the $1M question, can the protagonist’s helper also have a telic flaw? Yes, but that flaw shouldn’t change. I think Mrs. Lyons will be the ultimate protagonist, but I’m hedging my bets.
In Shape, Essie will not stop becoming a wildcat, she will come t grips with being a shape-changer. Mrs. Lyons will likely have the telic change–she will either be able to rehabilitate Essie or she will not. The climax will resolve the solution. Likely, the climax will be between Ceridwen, Essie, and Mrs. Lyons. Next, more about character development.