11 February 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 587, From the Ancient 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.
Allusions tie your writing into the human sphere. They do that by touching on past literature and past ideas. Look at the definition of creativity. Creativity does not happen in a vacuum. Creativity is always the extrapolation of ideas from the past—even science fiction. Because of this, the tighter an author can tie their writing to the past and especially literature of the past, the better.
For example, in Essie, I allude to A Little Princess. I do this as a novel—the main character is read and reads this novel to learn about school and about British society. In the novel, three of the “bad” girls at Essie’s boarding school are named after the three worst girls in A Little Princess. Why do this? First, I always tie my novels to literature and classical art—in this case to some novels and to classical organ music. This is one of my subthemes in the novel. The novels are just alluded to for fun and general interest because the protagonist is learning about modern British society. I picked A Little Princess because I assume most of my readers will have read the book. Who hasn’t read the book for themselves or for their children—it is an absolute classic of English lit.
Second, although Essie is not A Little Princess, she like the protagonist in A Little Princess to some degree. Essie is a very unusual girl and a wonderful creature whose purpose is to be abused in the world. She is an orphan with no mother or father (except the Dagda) at first and is adopted by Mrs. Lyons. You can note some parallels in Essie’s life with Sara from A Little Princess. I wanted my readers to remember Sara and see Essie. In this way, Essie is tied to A Little Princess.
Third, the bad girls from Essie have the same first names as the bad girls from A Little Princess. This is a throwaway—it just seemed fun to me. I don’t make any remark about it in the writing, I just note their names. The point is simply to tie the novels together. A Little Princess is not the only novel that is alluded to or directly mentioned in the novel, but it is the most obvious. Again, the point is to tie Essie into literature from the past to make it more relevant and entertaining in the present.
Allusions are not the only types of direct ties to literature direct mention and quotes are also useful and powerful.