26 January 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 571, Complexity 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 Escape from Freedom. Escape is my 25th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’m on my first editing run-through of 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 input (easy)
- Scene output (a little harder)
- Scene setting (basic stuff)
- Creativity (creative elements of the scene)
- Tension (development of creative elements to build excitement)
- Release (climax of creative elements)
I can immediately discern three ways to invoke creativity:
- History extrapolation
- Technological extrapolation
- 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.
- Conflict/tension between characters
- Character presentation (appearance, speech, behavior, gestures, actions)
- Change, complexity of relationship, and relation to issues/theme
- Evolving vs static character
- Language and style
- Verbal, gesture, action
- Words employed
- Sentence length
- Type of grammar
- Field of reference or allusion
- Tone – how tone is created through diction, rhythm, sentence construction, sound effects, images created by similes, syntax/re-arrangement of words in sentence, the inflections of the silent or spoken voice, etc.
- Mannerism suggest by speech
- 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 9. 9. Complexity
Complexity is related to the value of the unstated or the intentionally understated. Complexity comes out of tension and release.
Let’s look at complexity. Some might value a novel such as James Joyce’s Ulysses as a complex novel. Ulysses is impossible to understand, impossible to read, boring, stupid, venial, crass, repugnant, and unentertaining. I don’t think Ulysses has any redeeming complexity or characteristics, but it sure looks complex. The most damning feature is it is unentertaining. On the other hand look at a truly complex piece of literature—pick any of Shakespeare’s plays or poems. They are first entertaining. They appeal to the unintellectual and the intellectual. Their plots are fun and usually straightforward, but with wonderful simple quirks that draw out the final release until the climax. The word choice and the word play is beautiful and powerful. The writing is filled with figures of speech, word pictures, and jokes. This is complexity in English at its best.
How about a more modern version of complexity. Let me point out Dandelion Wine by Ray Bradbury. Dandelion Wine is a short story format novel—that means it is built with scenes that are each their own tension and release and they build to a singular climax tension and release. The writing, plot, and theme is entertaining. The novel is written with enough directness and simplicity it is usually assigned to high school students. But Dandelion Wine is a novel of explicit and yet indirect complexity. The themes are both unstated and intentionally understated. The ideas all drive to a single powerful climax and theme. The author deftly places the more powerful and complex human ideas into a very entertaining wrapper that defies the reader to ignore them. The reader finds in Dandelion Wine, Shakespearian word use and wordplay without the obvious attempts to dazzle with that wordplay. Instead of obvious complexity (like Shakespeare), Ray Bradbury provides figures of speech, great word paintings, and jokes without drowning the reader in difficult words that require a play and the players actions to explain. This is true and modern complexity in a novel—unstated, intentionally understated, and driven by tension and release. We will look at all of these.