18 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 836, The Stage of the Novel, Time and the Stage
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 started writing my 28th novel, working title Red Sonja.
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)
How to begin a novel. Number one thought, we need an entertaining idea. I usually encapsulate such an idea with a theme statement. Since I’m writing a new novel, we need a new theme statement. Here is an initial cut.
Red Sonja, a Soviet spy, infiltrates the X-plane programs at Edwards AFB as a test pilot’s administrative clerk, learns about freedom, and is redeemed.
Let’s go back to the beginning. I’ll use my newest novel as an example. It’s a historical novel, and you can see the theme statement just above. Let’s look at a novel from the standpoint of a stage play. A novel is not a stage play or a screenplay, but the author should approach some aspects of the novel from this vantage point.
In setting the stage of the novel follow my rules for writing 4a above:
Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
In a play, the curtain opens to a set stage. In a novel, the curtain opens to an empty stage—the author sets the stage. In a play, the audience usually has a playbill with some information on the time and place and sometimes on the characters. In a novel, the author must set everything. This is why the setting is so critical. I’ve mentioned more than once that I like to state the time and place at the beginning of my chapters. That isn’t sufficient either, but it’s a start.
When the curtain opens, what time is it? Usually, the playbill tells you about time in a play setting, but not always. When the curtain opens, the lights come up—or not. The lighting tells you about the time. There may be a spot light on a window to imitate the sunrise. When a character enters the stage, they might say something about the time—like, “good morning,” or good evening.” There are many other ways the playwright can introduce time on the stage.
The novelist doesn’t have to show everything because the author can use description. The author can write:
On the first of December 1940, Joan stepped into the morning illuminated kitchen.
This tells us about the time, day, month, year, and season. These are necessary, and there is no reason to hide them. For some reason, many authors play guessing games with basic information like this. These are open items on the stage of the novel—there is no reason to hide them. In some novels, the time might be unknown to the protagonist and in the protagonist’s point of view (POV), the time information might be unknown for a while. This is obviously okay, but most novels are not like this, and in novels like this, the author should be ready at the earliest time to give the time and date. Notice, in the example, I gave time, date, month, year, and season (in the month). This is natural and reasonable information your reader needs to know, and that is set on the stage of the novel.
In your settings, put in the time (date, month, year, time of day, season, etc.), then go for the place.
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