17 October 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 470, more 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 9. Complexity 10. Type of grammar 11. Diction 12. Field of reference or allusion 13. Tone 14. Mannerism suggest by speech 15. Style 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)
An author develops a character first and then reveals the character through the plot. Plot revelation is what it is all about. We do not reveal characters by telling. First develop, then reveal.
The question is how t develop and how much to develop. My character development usually starts with the overall character. For example, I knew Mrs. Lyons would be a perky elderly lady–she was always a perky young woman. I knew she would be cagey but slow about some things. She is slow in giving foresight to her thoughts, but she is very smart and puts certain things together very well. She is a classic form of a certain type of Victorian female character. Usually, this is the female sidekick character–read the Bronte sisters for examples. I put her as the protagonist. I knew her history, but at this point, the author should jot down or at least think through the history of such a major character. When was she born? Who bore her? How did she grow up? What was her schooling? What is her favorite color? Who did she marry? Who was her first love? What is her name? What is the name of her husband, sons, daughters, father, mother, siblings, and any other important relations or friends? If you can answer these questions, you are beginning to develop a character.
Next, what does she look like? I like odd looking and acting characters. For acting, see above and below. For description, Mrs. Lyons is a normal type character, but she has an interesting appearance that allows me to build tags and identification for her:
Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons (1910)
Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons was their old friend. She was a thin athletic looking woman with a round face. She was the daughter of Lord and Lady Hastings. When her parents died Marie and George would attain those hereditary positions. In consequence, Tilly loved Marie like a daughter and treated all of Leora’s children like her own. Matilda Anne Robina Acland Hastings Lyons turned around from her desk in her sitting room. She was a thin and athletic woman with a round face and gentle eyes. She could not keep from moving all the time.
Her clothing was immaculate, woolen, and very modern—a suit-like skirt and a coat that covered a frilly white shirt. Her face was round, but not plump, and ringed with short light brown hair. She was not tall, but her figure was sleek and almost athletic.
She was dressed informally, as Leora noted disdainfully, the British seemed to do with regularity. Her face was round, but not plump, and ringed with short light brown hair. Under her long woolen coat, her figure was sleek and almost athletic. She wore some makeup, but nothing like the women Leora was used to in Paris.
Some of the description from my novels about Mrs. Lyons.