1 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 577, Plot Multiple Tension 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:
- Historical 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.
What is complexity?
The first level of complexity is the theme. I discussed theme complexity earlier.
The second level of complexity is the plot. What makes a complex plot? In addition to the interweaving of the storylines, the tension and release cycle of the plot itself is directly related to the climax. This leads to the third level of complexity.
The third level of complexity is the integration of the tension and release into the climax and the revelation of the characters. The linear tension and release cycles in each scene drive the plot to the climax. The integration and relationship of each of these tension and release cycles must be directly related to the climax; however, within each tension and release cycle, the author can also include other tension and release episodes simply related to the storylines or to the plot incidents. I spotted a very simple one in Jack Vance’s novel, The Face, last night. In the storyline and plot, the characters are visiting a pub of extraterrestrial origins called Tintle’s Shade. I’ll slaughter the incident by synopsizing, but here goes. The serving woman takes an affront to Vance’s characters’ comments about her food and threatens to boil her crotch strap for their sausages. In a later chapter, when the characters are ordering food from the same pub, the serving woman offers sausages which both characters turn down. This is also the kicker for the end of the chapter. Read the book and see the example.
The point of this small tension and release is for a cheap laugh—a little levity—a chapter kicker, and a bit of unstated conclusion that drives to a release. This very small and complex tension and release is not really part of the climax or required for the storylines, but it fits elegantly in the storylines and doesn’t detract from the climax, theme, or storylines. It also continues and represents part of the tongue-in-cheek nature of Jack Vance’s writing. This is a very simple example of a nonlinear tension and release cycle added into the regular tension and release of the scenes. It increases complexity and as I mentioned it provides an unstated conclusion to a tension and release cycle. Simply, an unstated conclusion is one where the author never states what happens, but provides all the elements for the reader to get the unstated joke or punchline. In the current example, Vance expects the reader to conclude—oh, the serving woman might really have served them her boiled crotch strap for sausages. That’s the joke. Since it is unstated, the reader makes the conclusion and provides the release—this is a dual addition to complexity in the writing—the unsated conclusion or release.
The fourth level of complexity is the integration of language into the tension and release of the scenes.
The fifth level of complexity is the integration of literature and culture into the tension and release of the scenes.