23 October 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 476, more Characteristics and Confusion 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)
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.
Appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, and actions are means of character revelation. I really like this list–let’s look at each piece.
A name is never enough. I’ve read many novels where the conversations became especially difficult to follow and some where the narration was confused. The main reason was the author initially introduced a character with a name and a little description, but then followed up in narration or conversation without any ID or tag except the name. This always frustrates readers. You an prevent this with good name choices, but the best and simplest method is to always use tags and IDs in addition to the names. In addition, always reintroduce a character with a tag or ID when you bring them back into the storyline.
This brings us back to the list above: appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, and actions. These are tags and IDs for your characters. They are the actions that differentiate one character from another. I mentioned appearance to a degree. If you remember the 300 word rule for major characters and the 100 word rule for secondary characters, you will make a good start. The key for the author is never to forget what your character looks like and to continue to give the reader appropriate tags and IDs throughout the writing. The other characteristic: speech, behavior, gestures, and actions are all external indications of internal character and thoughts. These are critical to the writer and to the reader. Remember, we show; we don’t tell. The way you show is through appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, and actions.