7 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 583, No Confusion 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
Short digression: I’m in the Czech Republic on a short world tour. Flew into a couple of bases here–the Czechs are delightful people.
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. That leads to the individual scenes.
The fourth level of complexity is the integration of language into the tension and release of the scenes. Figures of speech are to writing what grammar is to language.
The only purpose, or I should more rightly state, the most important purpose, for a novel is entertainment. Without entertainment, no one will purchase, read, and continue to read your novel. Therefore, you must first strive for entertainment. Complexity leads to entertainment. Complexity is not confusion. This bears repeating and reflection: confusing can’t be entertaining.
To prevent confusion, the author must use all the common and uncommon tricks of writing I have been explaining in this blog. Figures of speech are just one method of reducing confusion. Figures of speech, in general, allow the author to make comparisons that would otherwise be impossible in the real world. This is supposed to make the writing more lucid and understandable. It should make the world of the novel more real and more elaborate to the reader. If it doesn’t or it engenders confusion, you either aren’t using figures of speech properly or you are interjecting unnecessary elements into the writing.
I mentioned yesterday, too much description is detrimental. Most authors can’t seem to provide necessary description, so most authors don’t need to worry about this. On the other hand, a few authors do use too much description. Use sufficient description to set the scene and characters. If you find yourself using less than 300 words for a character or for a scene setting—put some more in. If you find yourself using more than 1000 cut it back. Like I mentioned, most authors don’t use enough and don’t do enough scene and character setting.
Like a stage play, the scenes and characters of the novel should not be a secret from the readers. Show the readers what you should and use word pictures. Word pictures are figures of speech. When I write, I am trying to build an impressionist painting—a tapestry the reader can see as a piece of reality. Word pictures are the way to build this tapestry. With a picture, the author can place elements within that picture the reader can seek out and find. Through figures of speech, the picture can come alive in all dimensions.
The fifth level of complexity is the integration of literature and culture into the tension and release of the scenes.