3 November 2016, Writing Ideas – New Novel, part 852, The Stage of the Novel, Conversation 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.
To me, conversation is just another type of action. However, conversation is approached much differently than action. In the first place, action is written in paragraph form with the action driving he paragraph. The author writes action oriented paragraphs with a topic sentence, interconnected sentences to a kicker or conclusion. You don’t write conversation like this at all.
In English, we separate each speaker’s piece of the conversation into a paragraph. There can be a coherent paragraph of conversation, but generally, conversation is written in a back and forth of logical repartee. I did an entire week or so on conversation with great details. I wish I could remember all the great points I made. I’ll try to repeat many of them.
Let’s look at the beginning of conversation. No conversation in any novel is real. What I mean by that is that conversation in a novel is more akin to conversation in a play or a movie. Real conversation is filled with spaces, filler words (uh, like, yeah, ah), repetition, non-words, and whole illogical or unimportant parts. Obviously conversation like this is entertaining in the real world, but would become tedious in a novel.
The conversation in a novel is a perfect conversation—it is the kind of conversation people imagine themselves having until they hear a recording of their conversation. Conversation in a novel, a play, or a movie are idealized and perfect conversations.
Additionally, from 50 to 80 percent of all conversation is body language. To capture this in a play or a movie is not difficult—it just takes good acting. To capture body language in a novel requires the author use action imbedded in conversation. In fact, it is this integration of action and conversation that makes conversation in a novel appear real. Without this, the novelist will not be able to build conversation that seems “real” to the reader.
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