28 October 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 846, The Stage of the Novel, Developing Action on 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:
4. Don’t show (or tell) everything.
4a. Show what can be seen, heard, felt, smelled, and tasted on the stage of the novel.
In developing action on the stage of the novel, the author must have some degree of experience in the action he or she describes. What if you don’t have any experience in an area, and you still want to write about it? You have three choices. The first is get the experience. The second is interview someone who has the experience. The third is study the subject of the experience.
The first is the best. The second is the next best. The third is the least best. Most authors get their experience vicariously using the third method—that’s why much writing is crap when read by the experienced. On the other hand, many experiences, especially those in history can’t be experienced easily. Some can, and some are closer than you think.
My biggest problem with many historical fiction writers (and some historians) is their complete disregard for the experience of the people in the past. Some authors get it right. Many don’t at all. My historical fiction has been set in the eras of 400 BC, 1200 BC, and around 50 AD. These are supposed well known eras, but most historical writers completely miss the experience of the times and people. I could go into great detail on this, but you might ask: how do you gain experience in historical cultures and societies? That is a great question that has ramifications about every experience in writing.
When you write about what you have experienced, we generally think about writing set in now time. Now time writing is great only if we remember that future readers don’t live in the now. The best example of this is that a novel written in now time today every single person knows what a cell phone and a computer is. Everyone knows what a TV is. Everyone knows what a car is. That is now time today. Move back just 20 years and there were no pocket cell phones. Move back just 30 years and there were no personal computers. Go back 60 years and no TVs. Go back 70 years, and 80 years, and 100 years—do you get it? In just 110 years aircraft went from none to supersonic and common. Within about 120 years, the automobile went from none to everywhere. The first step in writing outside of now time is to know what existed in the time you are writing about.
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