9 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 585, Allusions and 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.
So, the biggest allusion is an allegory. I already wrote an allegory for you to review. That allegory is Aksinya: Enchantment and the Deamon. Aksinya is an allegory of the Apocryphal work Tobit. Aksinya isn’t a close allegory, but it is an allegory and even uses a couple of the characters from Tobit. At one time, allegories were considered the peak of literature. The reason for this was that allegories tend to package complex older ideas in a new or more understandable format. This is true of Aksinya. Additionally, allegories point directly back to a past literary work. This is especially important for classical works. The assumption is that everyone has read the original work—all your readers start out with a similar cultural framework. Today, this assumption is bunk. Most readers have barely touched the “classics” and modern “classics” are about as classic as toe-jam.
Today, many writers who place allegory, quotes, or allusions in their writing are fighting for the appeal of classics (and complexity) in their writing, but they are also encouraging readers to read and appreciate the classics. For example, although I don’t tell my readers in Aksinya, the novel is an allegory of Tobit, that fact should be obvious to the most casual observer. Additionally, the novel is filled with allusions to other literature—most readers would assume this anyway. Many of the allusions are very direct—even to the point of addressing the actual works or histories. Many of the allusions are to works not well known today, but considered classics in antiquity. My goal (other than entertainment) in Aksinya is to give the reader an appreciation for the history and the times. Aksinya touches on sorcery, mysticism, evil, and repentance—all ancient and in some degree classical themes.