19 October 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 472, Revelation 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. Scene development: 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.
There is much more to Essie and Mrs. Lyons than I told you here. In fact, there is a whole novel’s worth of revelation about Essie and Mrs. Lyons–that’s the point of writing a novel and what it means to reveal a character. The development just outlines the person for the author, the novel itself brings the character to life, and that is the entire point of character revelation.
Once an author has developed a character, the author can begin revelation. Remember, we don’t tell–we only show. You can begin character revelation with description. Only describe what the reader can see–nothing else. Then use conversation to introduce the character. You can also introduce the character with description. Here is an example of a protagonist introduction at the beginning of a novel. This is from Warrior of Darkness a yet unpublished novel.
Rain sizzled across the broken concrete. The black skies drained dark cold drops and sprinkled frozen bits of ice. They touched Klava Diakonov’s skin and numbed her cheeks and fingers. A blast of lightning cascaded across the heavens. She could not see it with her eyes. Still, she wrapped her black scarf more tightly over her face and pulled her dirty black coat closer. In spite of that, the blaze of light touched her senses and blinded them for a moment.
The lightning outlined and illuminated her. She stood across from The Bishop’s Cross Pub in the grass at the base of a knoll. She was a slight woman with very black hair and dark skin. Her complexion was uniformly the color of coffee au lait. It was much darker than the Irish norm of Belfast. Her eyes were emerald and as deep as two still pools of water. They appeared almost Egyptian, or at least, like a tomb painting from that cursed British Museum. Klava was dressed entirely in black. And in her hand she held a small tablet of black metal that was covered with hieroglyphics and the depiction of a face. The face was hers and the tablet was hers.
Regardless of the downpour, Klava lifted up her cold wet hands. Water dripped down her sleeves and further chilled her. Her features tensed in concentration and strange words that were neither Irish Gaelic nor English escaped her lips.
Whatever your notes and development, the revelation of the character turns all that into a three dimensional being. That real being is what the novel is about, and that real being is what the author wants to show the world. After all, a novel is always about the revelation of a protagonist and usually a protagonist’s helper.