20 November 2015, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 504, more What Actions 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. 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.
Appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, and actions are means of character revelation. I really like this list–let’s look at each piece.
Actions define a character. Words are actions. Here is an example from the newest novel I’m writing. It isn’t a young adult novel although the protagonist is a girl who ends up in an all girls school.
Essie returned to her room for a moment. She made sure her book and the branch were settled in her dresser under her clothing, then she headed to Tabitha’s room.
Essie knocked, then knocked again. She heard the sound of a short scramble then the door opened a crack. Tabitha stuck her head out, “Oh, it’s just you.”
Essie pushed her way inside. She spoke Welsh, “It’s just me.”
Tabitha stared at Essie for a moment then flounced on the bed. Clothing still covered most of the floor. Essie closed the door, “You are my house buddy. What does that mean exactly?”
Tabitha wrinkled her nose again, and asked in English, “Could you stop speaking Welsh?”
“Why? I like Welsh…it’s your language too.”
“Listen, Essie of the Lyons, you don’t want to stand out too much here. That’s just one way to stand out…”
Essie changed back to English, “Too much?”
“Yes, too much. The other girls will tease you and put upon you.”
Essie cocked her head. She sat on the desk chair with the least clothing on it, “How will you be put upon?”
“They’ll make fun of you. The seniors might confront you…physically.”
“They might hurt you or me?”
“That’s just it.”
Essie’s nose came up, “What’s that smell?”
“It’s cigarettes. Do you smoke?”
“I don’t know what cigarettes or smoke is.”
“Oh man, you are an odd duck…just my luck to have you as my boat anchor.” She pulled out a pack of cigarettes and tapped one out, “Listen, if you are going to be my house buddy.” She emphasized the buddy, “You need to learn some things.” She lit her cigarette and lit a small incense burner at the same time. “Amie and I smoke. You keep your mouth shut about that in front of the teachers and the housemistress and anyone else around here. Do you understand? It took us until this year to finally get a room together. I don’t want anyone messing up our little accommodation.”
“It’s a secret?”
Tabitha waved her cigarette around, “Yes a secret.” Tabitha stood and went to the window. She opened it a little wider to let the smoke out and the fresh air in, “You want a cigarette?”
“I’ve never tried one before.”
“Well, you shouldn’t start now. It’s a vile habit.”
“Do you want to stop?”
Tabitha grinned, “No. I need it for my nerves and to put up with this school.”
“Is it all that bad?”
“Depends where you fit in. What kind of girl are you anyway?”
“I play the organ…”
Tabitha laughed, “Ah, you’re that girl. You’re the one they were talking about. You gave that concert a week ago. I wish I could have heard it. Still, that isn’t very good for you…too much attention. I don’t want that rubbing off on me.”
Here I give the reader an introduction to Tabs (Tabitha) and a little about Essie. We know Essie doesn’t know much about the world, but the contrast is very strong when compared to a girl her age. The point of this small piece is to let the reader know about Tabs and to reveal more about Essie. The actions are words and some gestures etc.