8 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 584, Literature 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 suggested 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 fifth level of complexity is the integration of literature and culture into the tension and release of the scenes.
I’m absolutely sure we have not touched enough on figures of speech and the use of language in complex writing, but I’ll move on anyway into the integration of literature and culture into the writing.
If you notice how I wrote about this—the integration of literature and culture into the tension and release of the scenes. It does no one any good to just add a cast off quote or a simple unnecessary allusion to a scene—what matters is clarification and entertainment. To put it simply, allusions and quotes are used to clarify and entertain. It is unnecessary that every reader or every reviewer get the quote or the allusion. In fact, a prolific author might make allusions or quotes from his own writing in his new works. The allusions and quotes don’t have to be modern, new, hip, or understood by all. At one end of the spectrum, an allusion or quote can be viewed as an Easter egg waiting to be found by the observant and educated. At the other end of the spectrum, the less observant or less educated or less culturally knowledgeable reader might view a quote or allusion as a simple figure of speech. There is nothing wrong with this at all as long as the quote or allusion is entertaining and clarifying. It is not worthwhile if either is not entertaining or is confusing. The point is to not confuse and to entertain.
So then, what is a quote and what an allusion? A quote is a word for word repetition from another piece of literature. A quote must be attributed the best it can be—that is, unless it is a quote from the author. In the case of a quote from the author’s works, it may still be reasonable to attribute, but only in the context of the character. As I wrote, always attribute quotes. Not following this little dictum has led to the anguish of quite a few modern writers, speech writers, and politicians. Quotes need attribution and, by the way, this is one great way an author points to the quote as a quote. The point of using a quote is, after all, to entertain and to clarify. The entertainment comes from the reader’s assent to the cultural and historical knowledge of the attribution. Likewise the clarification comes from placing a problem, event, or issue into a cultural or historical framework. I’ll try to think of some good examples for both.