3 July 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 729, Scene Based Style, Secrets of Theme Development, Style 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, proposed title, Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si, is this: Mrs. Lyons captures a shape-shifting girl in her pantry and rehabilitates her.
I just started writing my 27th novel, working title, Claire, potential title Sorcha: Enchantment and the Trainee. This might need some tweaking. The theme statement is something like this: Claire (Sorcha) Davis accepts Shiggy, the dangerous screw-up, into her Stela branch of the organization and rehabilitates her.
Here is the cover proposal for Essie: Enchantment and the Aos Si. Essie is my 26th novel.
The most important scene in any novel is the initial scene, but eventually, you have to move to the rising action. I’m editing many of my novels using comments from my primary reader. I finished editing Children of Light and Darkness and am now writing on my 27th novel, working title Claire.
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)
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 15. 15. Style
Woah—style is huge. I just spent more than six months defining style from almost every angle I could imagine. Here are the elements I found for an author’s style.
1. Novel based style
a. Writing focus
c. Scene development
d. Word use
g. Use of figures of speech
i. Character revelation
k. Real world ties
m. Character interaction
2. Scene based style
c. Tension and release development
e. Theme development
Quick digression: Back on the tarmac at home.
Scene based style is moving down into the weeds of the novel. So far, I’ve looked at the higher level style of the novel itself. Now let’s look at the elements of style in the writing itself.
Do you remember when your writing teachers taught you to write about what you know? They really didn’t mean it the way you think. How can a science fiction author write about what he knows when he writes about the future? How can a historical fiction writer write about a world she can only know through historical works? The answer is, you can’t.
In the famous novel about Anne of Green Gables—Anne succeeded when she wrote about where she lived and her friends. Thus a generation of failed writers imagined that the rule: write about what you know, is directed to what you can and have experienced. If this were true, as I so elegantly noted, we would never have any science fiction.
So what does it mean to write about what you know? This goes back to themes and knowledge or worldview. I happen to be a scientist, engineer, and a test pilot. I am also an aficionado of the arts, a musician, a writer, an author. I was a military officer. I have traveled extensively around the world. My worldview and my experiences make me fitted to write quite a lot. I do write about flying and science and the military, but even more, I write historical fiction novels that deal with intelligence forces, science, and a twist. The twist is usually the supernatural.
My experiences are many times not directly about my writing. What you know is not just what you have experienced. What you know is what you have learned and thought about. It was obvious that Anne of Green Gables couldn’t write a love story—she had never experienced romantic love. She could write about her life and friends. What you are fitted to write about must well up from your experiences, but there is so much more to most people’s experiences. Let’s hope this is true.
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