2 November 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 486, Behavior Characteristics 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.
Speech in a novel is conversation–behavior is narration and a whole lot more. Behavior is of course speech and everything else a character does wrapped up in a single word. Perhaps you are imagining behavior as how the character thinks or imagines, but behavior is fully what the character does–it is within this sense, the expected and unexpected action of the character. In a novel, no character’s actions can ever be completely unexpected. That is, unless the behavior of the character has not been well communicated to the reader.
People always communicate themselves through their behavior–the problem is many times, we don’t understand what they are saying (or doing). A novelist doesn’t let this happen. The novelist lets the reader in on all the potential action. In fact, the author gives the reader clues as to the future actions of a character–this is called foreshadowing. A wise author uses the behavior (actions and words) of a character to foreshadow future actions. The author doesn’t have to spell out those actions, but rather gives a foundation for those actions: the sweet girl who has a murderous personality, the good boy who might snap, the bad boy who might do something good, the mean girl who takes the time to help someone. These are all behaviors focused on actions–they should never be wholly unexpected actions.
The behavior of a character must be based in their character. In other words, if you wrote a character without any sympathy for any human being, and they act sympathetically to a person, you have created a foul. Such a person is impossible in the context of your novel. On the other hand, if you reveal a character who appears to show limited or no sympathy and give them a sympathetic behavior pattern, you have begun to express a complex character. Under what circumstances does that character act sympathetically–that is the ultimate question and the answer should lie in your novel.